5 Simple Steps to a Better Interview

You’ve been on the job market for a while now, and during that time you’ve landed several interviews, all of which have gone pretty well. You opened each one with a smile and a firm handshake, the interviewers seemed to like you well enough, and you left at the end of each session feeling positive, all things considered. There’s only one problem: you haven’t actually landed a job yet.So what can you do to take an adequate interview to the next level? How can convince employers to come to a unanimous conclusion after meeting you and decide to offer you the job before you even make it all the way home? Here are a few moves that make help you polish your style and tighten your message.

1. Forget about the minimum.

Yes, you know how to shake hands properly. Your grip is firm but not too firm and your smile is wide but not too wide. Great. But keep in mind that a firm handshake, a wide smile, and basic punctuality won’t actually land you a job; they’ll just get you into the running. They’ll keep employers from rejecting you outright. That’s not quite enough. Don’t stop and decide to coast once you’ve gotten the basics down.

2. You’re an adult…so act like an adult.

You’re not here to beg for a handout like a trained circus dog. You’re here because you’re going to sit down with another adult professional person and work out a deal that will mutually benefit both of you. Don’t immediately place yourself on the weaker end of this transaction. Ask as many questions as you answer, and take as many notes as your interviewer takes.

3. Provide context.

Don’t answer your interviewer with simple, boring yes’s and no’s. Skilled interviewers will ask open ended questions and invite you to tell stories drawn from your back ground; for example, instead of asking a simple question like “Are you a strong leader?”, a smart, experienced interviewer will probably say something like: “Describe the most difficult leadership challenge you’ve ever faced. How did you respond?” But since not all interviewers are experienced or skilled, show some initiative on your own. Take control of the conversation. Fill out your simple, one-word answers with context, stories, and relevant detail.

4. Share.

Of course you’re trying to hide your nervous energy and showcase only the most polished, professional aspect of your personality. But the rest of your personality is also pretty terrific. Believe this, and try to relax and share some of who you really are. When you answer a question about yourself, be honest and speak from the heart—don’t just recite what you think your employer wants to hear. This will help both of you gather enough information to determine if this match will work.

5. Don’t lie.

Don’t overstate your accomplishments. This move is often far more transparent than candidates realize (especially younger and less experienced candidates.) At the same time, recognize when you don’t have to answer a certain question, and don’t answer. For example, you’re under no obligation to reveal your past or current salary to your interviewer. If she asks, answer by offering your preferred salary range instead.Visit MyPerfectResume for more on how to gain and keep control of your interview session, and for tools that can help you polish your resume and land more interviews in the first place.