Break the ice
The walk to your interviewer’s office can feel endless. Rollag suggests getting the other person to talk about himself. “Think about topics that give people energy,” he says. If it’s close to the holidays or vacation season, ask your interviewer if he’s had time to travel, and if so, where? And don’t get too hung up on awkward pauses. There’s a natural ebb and flow to every convo.
bring the energy
Your interviewer may be grumpy, distracted by matters unrelated to you, or could even be hazing you to see how you react. Keep your energy high, and forge ahead. “If you get the sense that an interview is going poorly, ask a question to show that you’re curious,” Sherbin says. “That will also give you time to recalibrate your responses.”
sell your experiences
It’s the catch-22 of entry-level job interviews: How are you supposed to talk up your experience when you don’t have any yet? If you haven’t worked much, Sherbin says, discuss the leadership skills that you have developed from other places, whether in your community, school, sorority— even a part-time job in a different industry. “Convey professionalism and good judgment through the interview process and they might consider redefining their idea of experience,” she says.
always be adjusting
Watch the other person’s reactions closely for clues to how well an interview is going, so that you can adjust. Does your interviewer seem to check out when you give a long reply? Shorten your next answer. Do you sense skepticism or surprise? Acknowledge it openly. If you think you might have missed the mark, it’s okay to ask, “Did I answer your question fully?” says Sherbin. “That shows you have emotional intelligence—you can recognize and address the needs of others, including potential clients.”
remember Who’s boss
Bubbling over with big ideas? Great! Just try not to diss your potential employer. “Sometimes when people feel confident, they think that they are being proactive by making unwanted suggestions,” says employment attorney Lori B. Rassas, author of The Perpetual Paycheck. Instead of bulldozing your interviewer with “fixes” that may seem presumptuous, Rassas suggests formulating a “30-6090 plan”: what you a sk ing smart Que s t ions i s g re at ! b ut o Ffer ing u nsol ic i t ed “Feedback ” i s r isk y. would do in one, two, and three months on the job, after you learn more about the culture and the challenges.
yes, ask some Questions
The moment when an interviewer asks, “Do you have questions?” is the best chance you’ll have to lead the conversation. “Some people think they’re being annoying by asking a question, or they want to take their wins and leave before they say something wrong at the last minute,” says Ghosn. “That’s a mistake.” A few Qs that always work: “What would a typical day be like?” “What would it look like to knock this job out of the park?” “What challenges would someone with this job need to overcome?” Show your interviewer that you have thought seriously about the role and envisioned yourself in it.