We all know that the interviewing process can be a nail-biting, stressful time for some. Particularly if you are applying for entry into a coveted position with a highly sought after company, you might get put “through the wringer” in multiple rounds of interviews.
Interviewing however, can be a gratifying experience if you are ready for the process. The 4 P’s of interviewing have gotten me through many interview processes successfully.
This might seem the obvious answer to the interview pro, but I have also been on the employer side of the table where people come to an interview unprepared, as if they are doing it just for the experience or as if they are desperate for just any job. Don’t waste an employer’s time in this way! It is impressive when a candidate is well prepared (if not over-prepared) for an interview. Preparedness demonstrates your level of interest in the position, and your commitment to work in order to get the job - which an employer would hope is indicative of your commitment to your work once hired. It pays to be prepared!
When you go into an interview with passion, it can separate you from other candidates who are nervous and less enthusiastic. In my own experience, I have had interviews in which I was not always the strongest candidate on paper. However, my passion and enthusiasm always seems to give me an edge. So how exactly do you use your passion in an interview? The catch here is it must come through naturally. If you are not genuine, it will show, and you will likely not get the job regardless of how your qualifications stack up against the competition. I once landed a job where I told the hiring committee, “I love career development…and whether you hire me or not, I will be doing this type of work somewhere.” This was a risk… I’ll admit that, but it was my third interview with this committee and I had a good sense of who was in the room. When I made this bold statement, I could tell by the body language of some of the committee members that it resonated with them. Needless to say, I received an offer for this position and accepted. My advice is to not just say you have passion, but demonstrate that passion with your language. It would also help if you spoke about examples of other times you were passionate about your work.
I have been in interviews where candidates had great resumes an all-around qualifications, but lacked personality and those candidates were one thing….FORGETTABLE! After an interview experience is over, you definitely want the person or people you’ve interviewed with to remember you for more than what your resume states. I caution you to be careful here as well; this requires a delicate balance of a sense of humor, interesting and relevant stories, charisma, as well as confidence. Your personality is equally as important as your ability to do the job in many situations. If a hiring manager cannot get a feel for how you will interact with the team members, they may not be comfortable hiring you over the other candidate who seems to be a better fit.
One might think this is understood but you might be surprised to know that many people underestimate the value of professionalism. This gets tricky when you have to interview in a “non-traditional” office environment. The point to remember here is always keeping your interview hat on! Your interview may require that you give a brief presentation, go out to lunch with potential co-workers, or take a tour of the office; in all these scenarios remain professional. These additional components of the interview are like tests, and everyone involved is grading you. One major interview faux-paw that people tend to make is letting their guard down. Although I’ve suggested that you show your passion and personality, you should never do this at the expense of professionalism. You should always be polished and poised because like it or not, you are being evaluated. It should also be noted that sometimes a candidate may be chosen for a position for their level of professionalism especially when the final candidate choices are equally qualified. Be sure to refrain from jokes and sarcasm as to not offend your potential employer. Whatever situation you find yourself in while interviewing, be sure your demeanor is appropriate for the environment. To ensure you demonstrate professionalism when communicating focus on explaining and illustrating your knowledge of the position, organization and industry. And let’s not forget being professionally dressed. In interview situations, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Interviewing can be daunting but it can be handled with ease if YOU THE CANDIDATE, remembers that YOU are an essential part of the process. One of the most widely touted interview tips is to remember that YOU are also evaluating the employer. Think of your interviews as an important conversation. Take the Four P’s (Preparedness, Passion, Personality and Professionalism) with you to guide your interview experience.
Stephanie D Reed received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Johnson C. Smith University and her Master of Arts in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Stephanie has 15 years work experience in career counseling. Follow Stephanie's blog.