The job interview books keep coming. There have to be hundreds on the market, each one regurgitating the same tired information. Amazingly, they sell or else publishers wouldn’t publish them.
Even though most of the books rehash or try to put a new spin on proven advice, a few of the new ones offer solid tips worth heeding. Garrett Miller’s Hire on a WHIM is one of them. Miller is a career coach based in Andover, N.J.
The premise of his interview strategy rests on standing out from the competition. The United States Marines’ slogan, The Few, The Proud, the Marines, exemplifies the importance of demonstrating that superiority, Miller asserts.
Companies are “looking for a few special candidates with the right skills and qualities to join their ranks,” he says.
Miller says that the following seven tips can set you apart from the competition:
1. Make small talk. Small talk is a good way to learn something about the interviewer. Looking for something to say? Some topics of conversation include: sports, front-page news, and local events, to name a few. The idea is keep it light. It’s best to stay clear of expressing political or religious opinions. The goal of small talk is to explore common ground so that interviewers get a sense of your personality.
2. Take notes. Taking occasional notes during an interview tells interviewers that what they are saying is important to you. It also shows you are good at listening, you’re paying attention to detail, and you are prepared. When it’s your turn to ask questions, refer back to a comment, statistic, or observation you jotted down.
3. Sit at attention. Don’t get too relaxed: Sitting back in the chair and crossing your legs may be comfortable to you, but the message you are sending lacks energy. Instead, sit straight up and occasionally lean in when you are excited. This body language signals a higher energy level – and your interviewer will remember it.
4. Be enthusiastic. Tell your story with enthusiasm. Make sure you come across as excited. If you can’t get excited about your own story, how can a recruiter expect you to get excited about their company’s story? Without being over the top, showing some emotion is a good thing. It also demonstrates good communication skills.
5. Arrive early. To most recruiters that’s 15 minutes prior to the interview. Arriving five minutes early is considered late. It sends the signal that you are a “just in time” kind of employee and didn’t allow enough time to get to the interview.
By arriving at least 15 minutes early, you have time to compose yourself and get ready for the interview. “Sitting quietly before an interview could be the most important five minutes you spend that day,” says Miller.
6. Edit yourself. Don’t be a chatty. There is no need to tell your whole story. If you begin your answer with, “I was born in Guilford, CT,” then you are providing too much detail. Answer the questions fully, and then ask if they would like more information.
7. Ask relevant questions. Prepare at least one or two questions beforehand. Miller says recruiters dismiss candidates who don’t ask questions as neither interested in the job or engaged in the interview process. By the same token, avoid questions that focus on what the company can do for you. “Instead, ask insightful questions about what you can do for the company,” he advises.