Your job interview is critical as you make a first impression on your prospective employer. Talk about stating the obvious. You’d be surprised at the gaffes made by even seasoned professionals in interview situations.

After your meeting, you want your interviewer to report back that “I had a great conversation with that candidate. He really thought a lot about our business and how he could contribute to our success.”

How can you be that candidate – and prove you’re incisive, thoughtful and ready to come on board and contribute?

Listen Effectively

Avoid being perceived as disinterested or “zoned out” during an interview. This will immediately take you out of contention.

  • Pay attention. Appearing distracted or missing a question naturally leads an interviewer to wonder how you’ll stay focused on the job.
  • Stay engaged. Maintain eye contact and make an active effort to listen attentively.
  • Don’t talk too much. Keep your responses succinct and to the point. Avoid rambling, getting sidetracked or talking about your personal life. No matter how warm and welcoming an interviewer is, this is a professional situation.
  • Use nonverbal communication. According to CollegeJournal, body language comprises 55 percent of the force of any response. Verbal content provides only seven percent while paralanguage – intonation such as pauses and sighs – represents 38 percent of the emphasis.
  • Be polite. Smile and nod, but don’t overdo it. Keep an even tone to your speech, not too loud or too quiet. Lean slightly forward to show your interest. Stay calm and don’t interrupt. Rest your hands on your lap or the arm of your chair so they don’t flail when you’re making a point.

Ask Insightful Questions

An interview is a dialogue – and your questions are just as important as those of the hiring manager. They show your interest and demonstrate your thoughtfulness and preparedness. This can put you a key step ahead of the competition.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is there room for growth in the job? Career development doesn’t solely mean promotion. Look for opportunities to train for new skills, study for qualifications relevant to the position and benefit from mentoring.
  • Why is the position open? Understanding why a job is vacant provides invaluable insight into an organization. If it’s a completely new role, this suggests the company is on the up and upand it may be an opportunity for you to blaze a trail. If the former employee resigned, try to find out why. A vacancy that is a result of a promotion may be more promising for your career progression.
  • Which are the leading skills needed to make a difference in this role? This question assumes you have thoroughly researched the vacancy prior to interviewing and that these skills are evident throughout your resume. It’s an opportunity for you to reiterate why your abilities and experience make you the ideal candidate.
  • What is the company leadership culture? Company culture comes from the top – and poor leadership is one of the main reasons employees quit their jobs. Any hesitancy in answering this question hints at a lack of clear leadership. It should raise a red flag as you consider joining the organization.
  • How do you communicate with your staff? Morale is generally low in organizations that are poor at communicating. The best companies schedule face-to-face meetings with employees, supplemented by ongoing updates. The response you get to this query will tell you a lot about the employer’s relationship with its workforce.

As noted by the recruitment team at a leading technical company, “by asking questions – not just any questions, but memorable, thought-provoking ones – you come across as a cut above the average candidate.”

For more tips on rising above the competition in your job search, read our related posts or contact the executive search consultants at BrainWorks today.

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