8 subtle and not so subtle hacks to ace that dream job interview!

Image credit: Sanjana Jain

Interviews are often synonymous with feelings of apprehension, unease and anxiety. Our first thought as we are walking into the interview is the singular hope that we don’t embarrass ourselves. Maybe, somewhere along the line, our urge to make a good and lasting impression becomes even stronger than getting the job.

How do we prepare for these interviews?

I guess we brush up our academics, experience and think of our strengths and weaknesses. Maybe, we do that extra bit to make sure that we look our best to make an excellent first impression. If you do these, you are like thousands of others who follow the same routine.

I want to offer you eight simple hacks to ace the interview for the job that you so desperately want, co-created and time-tested with some of my coaching clients who have managed to land up with some great opportunities.

1. Perfect your pitch: More chances then less that you will be told to introduce yourself. Hence, please make sure that you rehearse your pitch or introduction well as this will set the tone for the meeting to follow. Let it be focussed, credible and concise. Weave in a personal story while giving your background or your motivation for the career you are in; this will reflect ‘authentic warmth’.

2. Match words from the Job Description: Highlight key words in the Job Description. These words find a mention there because that is what the organisation values and that is the way it thinks. Use the exact same words when you give your introduction or talk about your experience, in response to the interview questions.

3. Establish eye contact: Your facial and eye movements are always being judged and perhaps matter even more than the skills and credentials on your CV. The eyes reflect our interest level, confidence and professionalism during an interview. Establishing good eye contact will convey your full intent to listen, make you feel heard and appear likeable. In cultures, where eye contact is seen as disrespectful, you may want to be less direct. Also, remember eye contact is not staring; you just need to do it subtly and intermittently for a few seconds now and then.

4. Playback key words spoken by the interviewer: Use some of the key words that the interviewer(s) use when they talk or ask you a question. These words are important to the interviewer, and if you can subtly get them into your conversation, it would help build great chemistry.

5. Mirroring the Interviewer: Mirroring is the practice of adopting another person’s behaviours, mannerisms, and ways of speaking. We trust people who are like us, and mirroring does precisely this. Remember some critical rules when you mirror:

· Don’t mimic, keep it subtle (only some actions, not all)

· Give 20–30 secs before you mirror

· Mirror only positive behaviours

· Don’t be so hung up on it that you stop hearing and being present in the conversation.

6. Think through your Weaknesses: Always introspect and prepare equally well for your weaknesses as you do for your strengths. It is not “uncool” any more to talk about your weaknesses. But do make sure that you also communicate how self-awareness is helping you deal with and work on your weaknesses and how you are ensuring that these don’t impact your performance on the job. Self-awareness is a critical element of emotional intelligence which is being highly valued by most organisations as an essential leadership trait.

7. Prepare your questions: You need to do this for two reasons. First, you want the job as much as the organisation wants you and hence you genuinely want to ask questions to get better clarity. Second, your questions help the employer understand your way of thinking and approaching a job. Some insightful and ‘look good’ questions could be the following or their variations:

· What are the organisation’s values?

· How do you expect employees to embody values at work or what kind of characteristics do you expect in the employees to ensure that they represent the same values? (for the second question, you could also, just pick up one value)

· What are the three critical success factors for an employee to succeed in this job?

· How does this job add value to the overall vision or strategy of the company?

· What does success look like in this job, and how do you measure the same?

· What do you like the most about working for this organisation?

· What else on my CV, could have qualified me as the best fit for this job?

8. Maintain your position as an equal: Make sure that you participate in the interview process as an equal; however, desperate you may be for the opportunity. Your confidence should come across in the discussions; in fact, that is the reason that it is said that you should move on when you are at your best! Don’t foul mouth your current employer and don’t let the frustrations of your existing job surface. You should be in a mode of ‘exploration with great zeal’. When it comes to making the offer, the employer should have to make an effort to win you over.

These strategies work not only in interviews but for other conversations as well. These help people relate to you better, help you develop great chemistry and build more profound engagement with others, from the very first meeting onwards.

All the best for that dream job interview, go for it with full confidence, armed with these hacks!

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