If we're being honest, nobody likes job interviews. In most cases, the interviewer despises them as much as the interviewee. They take up lots of time, they're awkward, and there are so many pointless formalities involved. However, they're a way of life and anyone who wants to land a good job has to jump through all the hoops involved.
5 Ways You Can Grab the Upper Hand
It's challenging to say, "Here's a formula for landing a job, now go put it into practice." While the following advice rings true in theory, you'll have to be the judge of what feels right and what's not appropriate given the situation. Familiarize yourself with all of the topics below and be prepared to use them. But, you have to recognize the fact that every interview is unique and what's successful in one environment may not be in another.
With that being said, let's take a look at some of the top interview tips and how you can gain the upper hand by taking control in an appropriate and respectful manner:
While many companies will try to get cute with their interviewing and may ask a few strange questions to keep you on your feet, the major ones will always be the same. Interviewers are always going to want to know who you are, what experience you have, why you're a good fit, and how you'd handle certain issues and situations. If you want to quickly build your confidence, prepare for and expect the following questions:
The goal in answering these questions isn't to have the perfect answer. While the interviewer cares about your response, they're really focused on the fact that you're able to quickly respond without much hesitation. This shows that you know your stuff and have opinions on relevant issues.
When it comes to strange questions like, "If you were an animal, would you be a hunter or gatherer?" don't sweat. These questions are typically posed to see if you have a sense of humor and creative mind. These aren't going to make or break your interview.
If you're going to throw out facts and figures in your interview, you need to be willing to back them up. Saying you helped your former employer reduce cyber security threats by 35 percent last quarter is a pretty empty statement on its own. Anyone can make that claim. However, bringing a colorful spreadsheet with you that provides data and clearly proves your claim is both impressive and honest.
Any time the interviewer asks you a question and you respond with a claim that can't be verbally verified, have something to show. These materials may include spreadsheets, charts, graphs, emails, paperwork, certifications, awards, or written referrals.
These materials show that you're prepared, organized, and attentive to details. You can even use them to direct the flow of the interview towards topics you're most comfortable with.
Did you know that most interviewers are often less prepared than you are? In fact, most interviewers aren't actually trained at interviewing. They're often forced into the responsibility by result of their position. Your interview is often squeezed in between meetings, meaning they actually have very little time to prepare. This may be an opportunity for you to guide the direction of the conversation.
This all bodes well for you. Keeping this in mind will give you an added amount of confidence that may encourage you to be a little bolder and stronger. As a caution, though, some interviewers are not only prepared--but they're also very experienced. Take this tip with a grain of salt and be prepared for both novice and veteran interviewers. You can usually gain some insights ahead of time by doing some research on your interviewer.
While we've covered the topic of which questions you'll most likely be asked, you also need to be prepared to ask the right questions. Unfortunately, this is a place where many people stress out and mess up. Everyone knows the, "Do you have any questions?" question is coming, yet very few are prepared for it. It's like the proverbial elephant in the room. We'd rather just ignore it and hope it doesn't come charging our way.
However, this is your time to shine. Don't ask boring questions about where the interviewer sees the company going in five years or what their favorite part of the job is. Instead, get creative and show that you've invested thought into the question. (After all, everyone in the room knows you've prepared these questions in advance. If you present something like, "Can you describe a typical day in the office?" you're showing you lack preparation skills and foresight.
Bold creative questions include things like:
Questions like these give you the upper hand and put the interviewer in the hot seat. They're forced to really think about an answer, which shows them you're creative and unique.
If you're in a second or third interview where salary talks come up and you have the leverage to negotiate, it's important to gain control of the situation. Jim Camp, President of Coach 2100 and expert negotiator, always stresses the importance of physical responses. "Do you lean forward, talk too much, squirm or wring your hands in a negotiation? If so, you are giving away too much information and demonstrating that you are emotionally needy," he says. "This is a very bad place to negotiate from."
However, in your pursuit of gaining the upper hand, Camp is quick to shrug off the notion that you should be aggressive. He points out that people are very reluctant to negotiate when they sense the other party has backed them into a corner. The goal is to gain an advantage by encouraging the interviewer to take down their guards. Camp suggests letting them do as much talking as they're willing to do. "The interviewer who needs to be smart and to do all the talking has an elevated level of emotion and will give up more information than they should."
Ace Your Next Interview
With these five tips, you'll find yourself much better prepared and exponentially more confident when it comes time to interview for a new job. Always remember to take it slow, relax, and casually gain the upper hand.