When we consider the secrets of the letter ‘S’ in our job interview, we usually think of schools, salary or even success: but there are some not so well known ‘S’ words that deserve some consideration when we are preparing for our interview.
The first one, surprisingly, is Silence! Silence can be a heart stopping moment in an interview if we are not prepared for it; so consider for a moment how it can be used to your advantage rather than the interviewers.
Many interviewers have been coached in the psychological advantage of remaining silent! The sound of silence in an interview can cause a minor panic attack “Oh my goodness, what should I be saying? What have I missed?, I can’t stand this silence any longer …” and so the poor victim leaps in to fill the void and often, being so fixated on the silence, does so without any care or concern about what they finally say! Many a previously excellent interview falls to pieces when faced with the power of silence.
So what to do? How can we avoid having it all disintegrate around us? Learn to love it! Using your calming mantras; smile confidently; and wait patiently until the interviewer breaks the silence. That is a really scary thing to do, so the other technique is to pose a question back to them. “Was there something else you would like to know?” A question like this puts the onus back on them. They have to come up with an answer or look foolish.
It might also show them that you are awake to the intention of using silence to prompt an unprepared response.
So do not be afraid of the silence, use the opportunity to review the interview so far, is there a clear pattern emerging? If you feel that the silence is being prolonged to your disadvantage, (remember the time constraints) then prompt the interview with a carefully chosen question – “Is there anything else you need to know?”
Another lesser known ‘S’ word in respect of interview is Serious! Yes, Seriously!!
Nerves can have a strange effect on some people; in order to appear unstressed, light hearted even, some serious contenders for the job can turn into an unpaid comedian. Cracking jokes, being flippant about career paths, making witticisms about achievement, or even downplaying their skills. While some carefully chosen wry humour may be effective, humour is such a subjective thing that you cannot be sure that your interviewer will appreciate your little gems.
Much better to remember the time constraints the interviewer is facing, and leave the humour to them. There is no reason why you cannot appreciate their humour, but be careful about introducing your own – it may not be appreciated.
And think about the impression it leaves; if you cannot be serious about the interview they why should they suppose you would be serious about the job?
No! I am sorry, but leave the jokes, the wisecracks and the amusing anecdotes at home for the celebration party; in the interview you must seriously demonstrate that you are serious about this job.
And finally a word about Self-Confidence; it is absolutely imperative that we present ourself as a serious contender for this job; at the same time we don’t want to leave an impression of being a know-it-all, now do we?
It is a fine line between real self-confidence and an arrogant belief in our superiority!! When being interviewed for a job we need to show that we have a self-belief that we can do this job, that we have something of value to offer – but we must also show that we also have an appreciation of the possibilities for us if we are successful.
The problem with showing self-confidence when we are nervous is that we can go overboard. In an endeavour to show that we are not nervous we can be perceived as being arrogant.
The trick is to learn how to handle our nerves; and develop our positive attitude to support our intention to win this job. There is an immediately recognisable difference between being quietly confident in our abilities, and being arrogantly pushy because we are terrified. Work towards achieving the first!
So; in summary; realise the power of Silence, and make it work for you. Beware of falling into the nervous trap of being a comedian; your interviewer is seriously looking to fill a job vacancy; you need to show you are a Serious contender for this job. And finally, work on your Self-Confidence by learning the techniques of controlling nerves, and aiming to portray that quiet air of confidence that indicates that you are positive you are the perfect choice.
Then it is only a matter of time before you are Superbly Successful – Sorry! Couldn’t help myself!
Michele @ Trischel