Job interviews are intense, not only for the applicant but also for the interviewer. Managers need to fill a vacancy with the best candidate for the job that meets the rules and regulations of hiring within a certain company. This means a long process of in-house postings, screenings, background tests, credit checks and all other company protocol regulations. At the same time, the vacancy that you are hoping to fill might currently be delegated amongst the rest of the staff, who are probably already carrying a demanding schedule.
In order to read an interviewer’s mind, it is necessary to set yourself apart from the crowd of faces and forms by asking the appropriate questions at the right time. That means doing your homework on a company and reading your interviewer. Of course, you are nervous, already feel scrutinized and every time you look at the future, a sense of desperation can grip your soul. (Don’t tune in at 11 for the news, unless you have to, desperate fear sells stories that create anxiety.)
Now, this may come as a bit of shocker but you might not be the only one who feels that fear. The person sitting across from you trying to determine if you are the right fit for the job might also be reflecting that the last 5 people he hired for this position didn’t work out and that he would like to get this position filled so that everyone’s load can be lightened and great customer service can skyrocket earnings and company morale.
Take your cues from him or her during the interview process. Watch what’s going on behind the scenes at the workplace as you are waiting for your interview. Plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early to study the faces and the overall vibe of the workplace. I watched a perfectly great candidate for a job blow her interview by arriving 20 minutes early and studying nothing but her coffee cup.
Form your questions from your observations. People are impressed with an astute observer and a good listener. When it is your turn to speak, ask your interviewer to describe the “Perfect employee” for this position. The first five qualities out of their mouth are the top requirements for the job. Don’t interrupt, but let that person tell you exactly how they measure success at that company. The more they talk, and you actively listen- is the best insight you will receive on how to be successful at this position and be an asset to this company.
Active listening is an art form, practice it in your everyday relationships and put it to good use on these job interviews. Don’t check off a mental list in your head as they are describing the challenges they need the job applicant to meet. Just listen and nod and jot a bit of it down. You intend to work there, so you will need all the tools and insight that this interview can give you. “What would you say is the biggest obstacle to success for the people who have previously held this position?” The top five things out of their mouth are the top five mistakes you will be memorizing not to make. Eye contact and a sense of empathy will make your interview memorable. This is research and insight into company dynamics whether you are being interviewed by the CEO or a shift-manager. Your actions should portray that of co-problem solver because of your excellent questions and active listening skills, and because of the energy you have invested into listening to what they are looking for, you should be the best qualified for the job by all the knowledge you have gathered, and the interviewer should feel a sense of relief and renewal about the top qualifications they are looking for in an applicant. Don’t be surprised when they call you back, because you took the time to observe and ask the right questions which helped them get a better idea of what they need to hire the right person, whom I hope is you! In the event that it is not, use that experience to springboard and learn more ways that you can present yourself as the perfect person for the job, the problem-solver and confidante.
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