Turn Interviews Into Memorable Conversations
By Wim Dodson
Interviews are among the most intimidating experiences in our lives. We sit, mute, glued to our chairs, feeling like the captured Allied spy in Nazi Germany.
“What is your name?!” the interviewer shouts at us. ?It feels as though every question the interviewer asks is meant to break?us?under the full glare of a bare light bulb blinding our senses.
Unfortunately, bleating muted answers to rapid-fire questions is the worst way to conduct an informative conversation the interviewer remembers. Instead, interviewers remember the way individuals conduct themselves — not the practiced answers to unimaginative questions.
Instead, grab for the fulcrum in interviews.
The best interviews are conversations between two human beings attempting to understand one another: their concerns, their interests, their problems and how each may be able to improve the condition of the other.
Simply answering questions without asking any of your own directly after your response makes the interaction one-sided. Unbalanced. Its like both of you sitting on the same side of a see-saw: its not a very dynamic interaction.
Grabbing the fulcrum means achieving the balance any conversation demands. The fulcrum is the center of the see-saw, the point that allows both participants to give and take.
Without balance in an interview, you are giving your tacit agreement to participate in an interrogation.
Two of the most difficult parts of attaining and maintaining balance in an interview are preparing your own questions and remembering to ask them directly after youve answered the interviewers questions.
The best way to prepare your questions is to read up on the company. Of course, the companys website is a great place to start. Also check out Glassdoor.com: query the company and read what staff say about the challenges and opportunities of working in the company. Another great way to learn about companies listed on stock exchanges is to search for their annual reports on google, yahoo or bloomberg. Merely referencing the annual report in your interview will set you head and shoulders above the rest of the interviewees.
And then practice asking the questions in front of a mirror, or with a friend or family member. It is not natural for us to have forced conversations with strangers who put us under magnifying glasses. So, work out your uneasiness before you enter the interview.
Come the conversation, then, remember to answer questions succinctly — hopefully by telling brief, heroic stories about how you helped previous employers — and be sure to immediately follow up with an informed question of your own.
Turning interviews into engaged conversations will also take some of the pressure off interviewers, who dont know what theyre doing anyway (none of them have received training to be professional interviewers). The approach will also set you apart from other candidates and make you a memorable and appealing prospect for employment.