Landing a job interview is incredibly exciting –- and often terrifying. But fear not. There are clever ways to transform your angst into nerves of steel. After all, a good interview should feel like a conversation, not an interrogation. Here are five essential key tips from the world of public speaking that'll help you look just as awesome in person as you do on paper.
1. Know Yourself
Most people dread the moment when their interviewer utters the words - "So, tell me about yourself." But it's actually the simplest question to navigate once you get down to the root of what's being asked. "Tell me about yourself" really translates to: "What can you tell me about how your personality, interests, work habits and background will help you rock this position?"
Before you answer, rewind back to when you applied for the job -– the moment you decided that you and the position would be a solid match. Usually, the reasons that ran through your mind before you chose to apply are the answers the interviewer is looking for. Since you're the most well-versed on the subject of you, this is your moment to paint the picture of what you bring to the table and why you're the most dynamic and capable person for the job.
2. Bridge the Gap Between Confidence and Enthusiasm (Then Marry the Two)
How many times have you been confident in your ability to perform a task but not necessarily enthused about doing it (or vice versa)? Confidence speaks to the way you perceive you, while enthusiasm is more indicative of your feelings about something or someone other than yourself — in this case, the gig.
To make sure there's a healthy balance between the two, draft a list of reasons you're confident about your ability to perform the job, and pair each one with a reason why you're enthusiastic about showing up. You should be able to clearly communicate these reasons during your interview.
Example: "In over 15 years as a graphic designer, I've mastered a number of software programs and techniques. Those skills have helped me contribute to some great work, but the best part of the experience, for me, is collaborating with a team to build something that clients can fall in love with."
3. Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Practice
The last thing you want to do in an interview is regurgitate your resume or Linkedin profile. Instead, take a look at how you described your role at previous jobs and practice how you might integrate these into an actual conversation. In other words: if your resume bullet points were complete sentences describing how your experience is relevant to the new job, what would they sound like?
To prepare like the pros, do a mock interview with a friend and video record your answers. Ask yourself, "Can I really see myself saying this?" to gauge the authenticity of your delivery.
4. Know When to Wrap It Up
Big audiences don't like a Chatty Cathy -– and neither do busy interviewers. To avoid coming across as a rambler or bad listener, always be mindful of the length of your answers. Even if the interviewer doesn't give you validation in the form of a nod, smile or laugh, don't be afraid to simply stop talking once you've answered the question.
If you can effectively communicate a point in five words, don't use 25. Trust that if they want to know more, they'll ask.
Need a little practice on this? Do a search for the "most asked interview questions" relevant to the position you're applying for, jot down the ones you struggle with and practice answering them. Open-ended questions sometimes require lengthier responses, but typically, you should be able to provide a thoughtful answer to most interview questions in under 60 seconds.
5. Be a Team Player
The letter "I" stands alone. Unless you're applying for a position that requires you to work independently, the reality is that stellar results (no matter the industry) require team effort. Be sure to incorporate "we" language to show your ability to work well with others. This doesn't mean refrain from sharing your individual responsibilities and accomplishments, but be clear about how those things benefitted your team.
When in doubt, stick to this equation: What my team does + How I do my part to make sure we get to the finish line = Victory
Of course, no two interviews are the same, but if you apply these tips, you're guaranteed to boost your odds of getting a call back. Knock 'em dead!