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Interview Tips: Four Tricks That Make a Great Impression

January 23rd, 2015

Before you step into your next interview, add these four slick moves to your professional repertoire and you’ll increase your odds of making a positive impression. You already know that you need the basics: timeliness, neatness, preparation, eye-contact, and follow-up. But you may not know a few of these other strategies that can help you increase your likeability and establish a foundation of trust.

Enjoy the Process

Of course you’re nervous. All interview candidates are nervous, and all of them do their best to hide this fact. Employers are used to this and they expect it. A little sweat on your palm or a little restless tapping on the desk won’t hurt your chances. But if you can look past the moment, keep the entire day in perspective, and enjoy the ride, you’ll do two things: You’ll keep your nerves in check, and you’ll also put your interviewer at ease and help both of you create a positive memory.

Listen, Don’t Just Talk

Candidates often expect the interview process to resemble a kind of oral exam in which each question is followed by a polite (and correct) answer, a pause, and then another question. Interviews always happen this way in the movies. But in real life, interviews tend to take the shape of a conversation, and interviewers often take this opportunity to explain the nature of the job and the company. If you’re smart, you’ll listen while your interviewer talks. If you’re extra smart, you’ll take notes, and you’ll ask questions at the end of the process that show how well you’ve been paying attention.

Be Yourself

This sounds like a cliché, but during your interview, don’t try too hard to construct a persona that differs wildly from your real self. Unless you’re a professional actor, you won’t fool anyone; you’ll just confuse them and make them uncomfortable. Don’t flash your million dollar smile and try to tell jokes if you aren’t a smiler or a joke teller. If you’re naturally quiet and reserved, embrace that, and be the most professional and trustworthy quiet-and-reserved person in the room. If you’re naturally loud, that’s fine—use it to your advantage. If you’re a leader, be a leader. If you’re a follower, don’t hide it—be a follower, and a good one. Work with the grain of your real personality, not against it.

Treat the Interview Like a Date (Sort of)

Obviously, you shouldn’t make or accept romantic overtures with your interviewer, but the job search process and the dating process have a few things in common: In both settings, two parties come to the table as adults and equals, and both have something to gain from a potential partnership. Both parties are looking for the right match, and both benefit by presenting themselves honestly and expecting the same in return. Ask as many questions as you answer, and be polite but clear about what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.

For more interview tips that can help you relax, present your best self, and share information honestly with your potential employer, contact the staffing professionals at Merritt.


Networking: It’s Easier Then You Think

October 24th, 2014

You’ve been working steadily for several years now, or maybe you’ve been making your way through a few years of college course work. You’ve been applying yourself to daily tasks all week long and then socializing on the weekends with no particular need to merge these two activities and no desire to force an overlap between your social life and your professional ambitions.

But now all of that is about to change. Soon, you’ll be leaving your current routines behind and facing the job market…and that means you’ll need to start the process of “professional networking”, a form of social career-building that can inspire anxiety even among extroverted and outgoing job seekers. But don’t panic just yet. There are plenty of ways to keep this process natural, organic, genuine, and even easy. Try the moves below.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Just do it better.

Carry on your normal mode of socializing…just dial up your level of effort and pay more attention to the details of other people’s lives. Work harder to remember names when you’re introduced. Don’t walk away from someone at a party just because their story doesn’t interest you. Listen harder, remember more, and actively engage with those who may not seem to have much in common with you at first. If you reach out and listen, you’ll learn more about the world outside of yourself. You’ll also make a better impression on those you meet.

Ask the right questions.

Ask people where they’re from. Ask them what they do. Ask them how they feel and what they think about various topics relevant to the moment. But most of all, ask people about their experience with the kinds of things that can support your own career growth. If they can help you in any way, or if they know someone who can, they won’t necessarily volunteer this information without prompting.

Offer favors before you ask for them.

If you listen when people talk, you’ll catch valuable information about the things they need and want. If you can provide any of these things, you’ll place yourself in good standing later when the tables are turned.

Be brave.

When the time comes to ask for help instead of offering it, step up to the plate. This can be very difficult, and we’ve all felt a moment of hesitation when requesting a favor from someone we just met, or a long-lost contact, who may respond with a blank stare. But reach out anyway. Most of the time, this feels far more awkward from our own position that it does on the receiving end.

For more on how to build your network in a way that is both effective and genuine, reach out to the staffing and career-building experts at Merritt.

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