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How to Ace Your Job Interview - Part Two

So, you’ve almost reached the finish line. You’ve made the shortlist and now all you have to do is give a great job interview. Here’s how.





Soft Skills in a Hard Job Interview


In this the second of our two-part look at absolutely nailing your job interview, we’ll give you more practical tips on how to approach the big day with confidence.


So, you’ve done your research, you have some inside info on who is interviewing you and, on the company, you’re looking to join. So, what are the questions you’re going to be asked? Well beyond the industry and role-specific questions that you are bound to be asked, your prospective boss will be trying to tease out of you your soft skills. Soft skills are becoming more important to employers when choosing between applicants with similar experience and education. Whether its team spirit, communication skills or being a quick-thinker, expressing and demonstrating the right soft skills can make hopeful candidates stand out from the crowd. Soft skills give candidates an edge, and show potential employers the social and cultural benefits they would also bring to their new role and company.


So, what are soft skills? Soft skills are about who you are, rather than what you know. As such, soft skills cover traits that decide how you interact with others, and are usually part of your personality. Where hard skills can be learned and perfected over time, soft skills are harder to acquire. So how will this manifest itself in your interview? You’ll be asked to tell the interviewer about your strengths and weaknesses. This deceptively innocent question is actually quite loaded, for it is here that you will be revealing a lot about your soft skills and how they will relate to the role and team you could potentially be working with. For strengths, pick a skill you have that applies directly to the job and use it as your answer. "What is your greatest weakness?" is next to impossible to answer correctly, but it's more about a situational weakness rather than a personal one. Answer this question in direct relation to the job. For example, if you're applying for an administrative role, but you have trouble lifting something over 20kg, mention that. Basically, picture the question as a benefit for you, not a hindrance. It's a chance for you to test the waters of a job to make sure you can fit.


The other approach is to answer the question with an actual weakness and then elaborate on how you're working to correct it. Let's say you respond that you have trouble keeping a clean desk at work. Follow that with, "I've been using a few new methods for organisation recently to keep my desk uncluttered and organised."


But the overarching things to get across are to talk about your communication skills, your ability to engage with a variety of stakeholders, your attention to detail, your tenacity to see a job through to conclusion, your ability to remain calm under pressure. These traits are all strengths that are universal and much in demand.


Work the Room


There is a huge psychological aspect to succeeding in our job interview. From your firm (but not vice-like!) handshake, to smiling and maintaining eye contact (but not weirdly!), how you present yourself is as important as your experience and qualifications for the position. Once you’ve settled into the interview, there are a few subtle things you can do to ingratiate and engage with your interviewer. There’s a technique known as “mirror and match” which is a basic tenet of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) that will work wonders. If you’re sitting opposite your interviewer at a table, and they cross their arms, after a few moments, do the same. If they lean back in their chair, do so as well. Obviously, you have to be subtle about this. But the effect it will produce is that you are both in the same zone, with similar objectives and that you are both non-threatening but confident in your space in the interview. It’s a great technique, try it in a social situation and watch how it puts people at ease without them even realising it.


Summary


Remember, if you do get off to a rocky start in the first part of an interview, don't worry, it's not a lost cause. Just try to relax and focus on the rest of the meeting. Remember these tips and put them to use. Use the meeting as an opportunity to highlight your strengths and what you bring to the table. Keep in mind, too, that you are interviewing a company as well. There must be a good fit on both sides. If you feel you need some more leverage in the interview situation, speak to Gramerci’s coaching experts for some invaluable preparation for the big day.

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