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Top interview techniques for success

Let’s face it: some people are blessed with exceptional interview skills, seemingly without even trying. Luckily for the rest of us, you don’t have to be born with these abilities – there are a raft of interview techniques you can learn and use that will help you interview like a pro.

Start the job interview with a bang

With interviewers sizing you up within minutes or even seconds, there are no second chances – so you have to make sure you get off to a cracking start.

Your first consideration is how you visually present. It goes without saying that you should carefully choose what to wear to the interview and be impeccably groomed.

Before you enter the job interview, take a few minutes to ‘get in the zone’ by getting into a relaxed and positive mindset so you radiate ease and confidence. Use relaxation techniques, affirmations or visualisations, take a few deep breaths, strike a few power poses – do whatever works for you.

Be polite to everyone you encounter, including (or especially) the receptionist.

When you meet your interviewer, smile, greet them by name and shake their hand. You know what everyone says about the importance of having a good, firm handshake (but not too firm or aggressive)? It’s true.

A little bit of friendly small talk at the beginning of the interview can help establish rapport and make you feel more relaxed. Just asking the interviewer how their day has been can add a personal touch and shows your interest in them as a person.

Connect and consolidate

You need to back up the positive first impression and connect with the interviewer throughout the interview if you really want to dazzle. As nerve-racking as interviews can be, that means letting your personality shine through, and being warm and authentic. The last thing you want is to be a cardboard cut-out candidate who barely makes an impression. There are a range of interview techniques you can use to bolster your rapport with the interviewer:

  • Smile: It will not only make you appear more friendly and pleasant, it will also make you feel more positive and relaxed.
  • Eye contact: The ability to maintain eye contact is an important social cue and denotes confidence, interest and trustworthiness. Avoid staring, however, and try not to blink too often.
  • Body language: Maintain an upright but relaxed and open posture, shoulders back; don’t slouch, cross your arms, fidget or tap your foot; and of course, smile. All these body language signals will convey confidence and engagement, and positively influence how you feel as well.
  • Mirroring: Subtly mirroring the interviewer’s expression, posture, tone of voice and language is a technique used to create an unconscious connection. It’s not the same as mindlessly mimicking; it’s about matching the person’s energy, expressions and body language to establish rapport in a subtle way.
  • Be an active listener: This communication technique means you are really concentrating, understanding and responding to what is being said. Show genuine interest while you are listening, and occasionally nod or slightly lean in. Refer back to specific things the interviewer has said when it is your turn to speak.
  • Think on your feet: If you have prepared well for common interview questions as well as behavioural interview questions, you should be able to readily engage with the interviewer’s questions. Be prepared to tailor and tweak your responses, however, to incorporate whatever has specifically arisen during the course of the interview.
  • Ask questions: Asking the interviewer intelligent questions demonstrates both interest and insight into the needs of the business and the role. See our suggestions for some of the best questions to ask in an interview.
  • Use humour: Interviews are a serious business, but injecting a little bit of light-heartedness into proceedings can help break the ice and establish a more personal connection with the interviewer. Tread the line carefully, however – don’t be inappropriate or overly familiar, and answer all interview questions with the seriousness and professionalism they deserve. Your best gauge is the interviewer – if they are very formal and reserved, it might be best to respond likewise

There are also some things you need to avoid doing at all costs:

  • Don’t ramble, stray off topic or provide excessive detail (unless asked for). If you see the interviewer getting restless or impatient, wrap it up!
  • Avoid answering questions with only yes/no. It’s important to be succinct but also thorough in your responses, and provide the information they’re seeking. If you are unsure of exactly what the interviewer wants to know, simply ask for clarification.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Don’t swear or use inappropriate language; keep it professional and politically correct.
  • Don’t check your phone (It should be off and stored away).
  • Don’t panic if you make a mistake or don’t answer a question ‘perfectly’ when first asked. You can always ask to revisit and further clarify the point later. Interviewers understand that you are nervous (as well as human), so handle any missteps with calm and composure.

Make it complete

Before the job interview ends, ask the interviewer if there are any last questions they would like you to answer or if there’s anything that you missed. Revisit any points you didn’t adequately address and ask any questions you didn’t have a chance to raise.

Briefly reinforce your interest in the role and why you think you would be a good fit for the organisation.

Ask about next steps in the recruitment process: when they will be making their decision and when you should expect to hear back from them. You can also ask if it’s OK for you to call them within a certain timeframe.

Always end an interview by thanking the interviewer for meeting with you. Smile and be friendly. Also follow up with a short thank-you email once again thanking the interviewer for their time.

Read more on how to close an interview on the right note.

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Hudson (NASDAQ: HSON) offers highly specialised professional recruitment, recruitment outsourcing and talent management solutions. Clients partnering with Hudson achieve greater organisational performance by attracting, selecting, engaging and developing the best talent for their business. With a global presence of more than 2,000 employees operating in approximately 20 countries, Hudson delivers great people and great performance.