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Interviews are among the most stressful situations that adults face because so much rides on having steady employment; housing, food, and utilities. I’m at the point where I have interviewed over a dozen times for various positions ranging from cardio instructor to a pharmacy technician. There are a few key things I’ve done, or avoided doing to seal the deal.

Schedule an early interview

When I have the option, I choose an early interview time. Early interviews get you in front of a person who has eaten breakfast, is still fresh minded, and caffeinated. I make sure I have done those things too so we meet on equal footing. Securing a morning interview leaves the day open for the company to deliberate and let you know if you have the job or a second interview by the end of the day.

Ask the first question

After you have introduced yourself, shook hands, and have sat down be the first to ask a question. This question should involve something that shows you know something about the company. At my most recent interview, I asked them if they knew their job ad had a sentence that read “The fur on the dog is yellow.” I recognized it as what it was, a way to see who was paying attention. I asked the man who was my interviewer, “Did you know your ad has a line that says the dog has yellow fur?" His eyes flew open, and he said, “I sure did, it was a test and you passed with flying colors.”

People are impressed and relieved when you take the pressure off of them to ask all the questions. Always remember that you are interviewing to company as well to see if it’s a good fit for you.

Give short and direct answers

Questions are one of the ways that a potential employer sees how we handle stress. Giving answers, which take too long waste the interviewer’s time and might make you look disrespectful. If possible try adding humor to answers, it’s an unexpected way to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s vital to pay attention to the demeanor of your interviewer because they will give you nonverbal cues, which will indicate if you should try to be more engaging or to tone your level down.

 

Pretend you are talking to yourself

I am entirely comfortable talking to myself, we have spent the last thirty-five years together so you could say we have a rapport. When you look across the desk at someone and see them as different, the encounter becomes stilted or a competition. When I pretend I’m looking at me across the desk, I immediately relax and answers flow more easily and authentically.

Arrive early

Arriving early to an interview allows you to notice the tone of the company. Can you hear employees arguing? Is there easy parking? Does someone other than the boss introduce themselves? This is key to recognizing a problem before you’re hired. At my last interview, the boss was a bit harried, but polite. He mentioned that one of their employees had their baby three weeks early. This allowed me to be comforting as well as prepared to dazzle them so it appeared that I was the answer to their problem.

Dress appropriately

Wearing the right outfit shows a potential employer that you are serious about the job, and that you respect the company. When I was interviewed to be a cardio kick boxing instructor, I wore workout clothes, which would allow me to demonstrate my ability. If I had worn a business suit, my ability to show that was the right candidate might have been compromised.

Hygiene

If you want to be hired you cannot miss this step. Make sure you have recently showered, have fresh breath, and have applied deodorant. Be very careful with scents if you want to wear cologne or perfume. Many people are very sensitive to smell, and it can eliminate you as a candidate. Make sure your hair is styled in a way that is representative of the job which you are seeking. When I was interviewing for a pharmacy technician position, I made sure that my hair was tied back and neat. I wanted to show that I was there to work and not to show off the latest hair style.

Names

The one thing people hold most precious is their name, and if you forget it or mispronounce their name, you’re in trouble. I make a concerted effort to remember the name of my interviewer and any employees I am introduced to. At my last interview, I was introduced to my potential boss and an employee. After the formal portion of the meeting, I was given a tour of the facility. At the end of the interview I thanked them both for their time, by name. Common courtesies like that will keep your name fresh in their mind.

Ask a closing question

If the interview has gone well it’s important that you give a sign to your potential employer that you can see yourself working there. I usually ask what the dress code is or what their policy is on cell phone use. I’m not really concerned with the answer, but it lets the employer know that you are a serious candidate who wants to follow the rules and be a team player.

Resume

No matter how big or small your resume is, be prepared to answer questions about it, especially if there are lapses between employment. You will likely be asked to explain why you left previous employment. Even if you were fired you can say that you and your boss couldn’t see eye to eye, and you parted ways so you could pursue a job to which you are better suited. At a recent interview, the employer thought I was a barista because the company I was working for is called World Literary Café. I explained that it was a misnomer, and that I help promote independent authors. He was chagrined having not read my read my resume entirely, but I cleverly turned it into a joke, and we moved on.

To dominate an interview you don’t have to be forceful or demanding, you just need to know what you are looking for, what you can and cannot compromise on in a job, and be willing to see the person across the desk as your friend. What are your tricks to dominating an interview? Please leave me a comment.