Five Tips For Delivering Job-clinching Interview Performance

Poor interviewing skills are to be blamed when an otherwise promising candidate loses a job offer. Fortunately, interviewing skills, like many life skills, can be perfected with preparation, practice, and persistence.

The first step, however, is to understand how employers make hiring decisions. Many companies use behavioral interviewing -- a technique that allows them to gauge an employee's potential on the basis of past performance -- as a key decision-making tool. Successful candidates are normally ones who can demonstrate how their past experience prepares them for the future position.

Consider the following tips:

1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

During my coaching practice, I come across many candidates who just show up at interviews without any preparation whatsoever. Considering the stakes, preparation is not an option.

Preparing for an interview is a multi-dimensional effort covering multiple areas -- company, candidate (you), and culture (the three C's of interview preparation).

The company: Research everything you possibly can about the company and the position. Analyze the job posting, review the company's website, know their products, read press releases, browse through newspapers and periodicals, study competitors, speak to stakeholders (clients, vendors, employees, etc.) and read whatever you can find about the organization.

The candidate: Conduct an honest assessment and develop several stories about your past experiences and accomplishments. Prepare scripts for commonly asked interview questions and a list of convincing reasons for "why should we hire you?" type of questions.

The culture: You must know the cultural norms of the company. From interview responses to your attire, knowledge of a company's culture can play a crucial role in the interview process.

2. Take the interrogation out of the meeting

It is a very common misperception that an interview is an interrogation session. Hiring decisions are as much about you as about them and an interview is the best time to understand the company, its cultural norms, and other details. Be prepared to ask intelligent, but relevant, questions that will transform the meeting into a collaborative discussion as opposed to an intelligence gathering effort.

3. Talk about results and experiences

Based on your preparation, you should come up with plenty of examples demonstrating how you benefited your past employers. The key is to tie these results and experiences to the question being asked.


Interview question: Are you able to lead teams?

Sample interview response: I am a gifted leader who has fortunately had the opportunity to lead many cross-functional, cross-cultural teams globally. In fact, in my recent position I had to lead a team of 80 employees who were dispersed across 22 countries. Although, the distance was a challenge, I leveraged my team leadership skills to motivate these geographically-dispersed teams through weekly phone conferences and daily e-mails. My constant communication and employee-focused leadership style resulted in 100% team performance consistently. Our teams are recognized across the company. In fact, we won 14 awards last year.

4. Demonstrate interest

In addition to your skills and talents, employers would be very interested in determining your level of interest in both the company and the position. Through your responses, you must be able to convince the employer about your serious interest in the position.

5. Follow-up

Write an offer-clinching thank you note to every interviewer. The letter must be a very powerful piece and must be written to impress the hiring team. Briefly, but politely, summarize a list of reasons why you would be the ideal candidate for the position and touch upon issues discussed during the meeting. If done right, this letter (or follow-up phone call) could be your ticket to the new job.