In many cases, the choice comes down to chemistry—and we're not talking atoms and molecules. It's that mysterious rapport between veritable strangers that often seals the deal, whether you're interviewing for a job or graduate admission.
Although chemistry might seem random, it is actually a learned art. There are things that you can do in any interview to set the stage for immediate connection.
No matter how important the prospect, you must remember that the person on the opposite side of the table is just that—a person. Though you may be nervous, the interview is a chance for both parties to illustrate their potential. Give yourself plenty of time prior to the interview to get into a relaxed and confident frame of mind.
2. Speak candidly.
Many candidates make the mistake of thinking that they can only talk about the job or degree opportunity at hand, when in reality, interviewers want to see your human side as well as your academic and professional traits.
So while talking about religion or relationships may not be a great idea, you can endear yourself by venturing possible commonalities such as children or interest in local sports. Just be sure that your perceptions are legitimate—making assumptions about your interviewer's personality could make things uncomfortable.
3. Come prepared to learn something.
It is vital that you research any prospective school or company prior to the interview, but interrupting your interviewer—or worse, debating with them—is a surefire way to be dismissed as a know-it-all. Listen carefully while the interviewer is speaking, and make note of questions as they come to you. Your thoughtful consideration of each response will not be lost on the interviewer.
4. Be passionate.
If this is an opportunity that you really want, prove it. Leave no room for doubt concerning your commitment to the field of work or study. Cite your own past accomplishments as well as the information that you've gathered on the prospective position/program as proof that there's nowhere else you'd rather be.
5. Leave your mark.
Much like the proverbial doorstep after the first date, the way that you exit an interview is as important as your entrance. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the program or position, and ask (tactfully, of course) when you can expect to hear from your interviewer. Even if you're unsure of the interview's success, don't bolt out the door in a blur. The departure, if done well, can handily negate awkwardness on both ends of the handshake.
Naturally, you won't find a soul mate in every interview situation, but if you are determined to exude positivity and professionalism regardless of outcome, you will leave a lasting impression on those who can help you move your career further. And now that you know the "dos" of the interview process, check out a few of the most common interview "don'ts."