Make it a conversation.
That’s it. That’s the most important thing. Make your interviewer Joe have a good time; make your interviewer Joe enjoy himself in interviewing you. Make your interviewer Sally have something that she can say back at home to her spouse about how her day went. Make something you say able to be repeated by your interviewer Marcel at a cocktail party.
Make it a conversation.
Well, what do I mean “make it a conversation?” Specifically, I mean:
- Cocktail-party interesting
- Having a lot of stories in your interview
- Enthusiastic and lively
These may be a lot of bullet points to remember, but you don’t need to remember them. All you need to think about is “How can I make this into an interesting conversation?” I work with clients frequently on interview practice, specifically the interview start.
Two specific tips:
1) How to start the interview in a fun way
- Ask the first question. Intrerviews follow a path of inertia once they get started. If the first question is to you, you’ve alredy turned the tides into a routine interview. So ask the first question. Ask about the company. Ask about the specific position. Learn something from the answer, and then address what you have learned in some of your follow on questions.
- Be curious. You don’t know everything. No one expects you to. Ask for clarification when you need it.
- If boxed into answering first, clarify the question to create a sense of back-and-forth.
2) How to have a conversation within a question
- Clarify the question. If you’ve been asked something and you don’t want to fall into the routine, “Interviewer asks, interviewee answers,” then clarify the question.
Interviewer: “Tell me about a time when you’ve shown leadership.”
YOU: “Would you like that to be in some recent experience or my overall largest example of such a time?”
Interviewer: “An example from your current job would be great.”
- “To answer this, could I first ask you a couple of things about [the position, the work environment, the projects]?”
- Respond to conversational invitiations. Sometimes your interviewer Reggie may take an important call, and then after hanging up, may say, “That was from Operations. We’ve announced that we’re looking to buy a new plant.” Respond to this. Feel free to ask, “Is that good news or bad news?” Be open to these parts of the conversation.