The importance of setting the right tone in your job interview
There’s more to “nailing” your interview than just answering questions and discussing your skills... the outcome may depend more on your body language and tone. According to the online education site, Classes and Careers, “33% of 2000 bosses interviewed claim they know within the first 90 seconds of the interview whether they will hire someone.” You haven’t even been asked a question yet!
It’s critical that you control the “image” you project, the tone you convey and the attention you pay to the less obvious things that will influence your odds of getting the job. That same study reveals the quality of your voice, use of grammar, your confidence and even the way you “walk through the door” to greet the interviewer all impact the hiring decision. The interviewer is evaluating you as a team member, especially in a “people business” like hospitality.
So how do you strike just the right balance between seeming cocky, meek, or even “robotic?” Of course you’ll do the usual prep for questions and ensure that you share experiences that demonstrate your skills and experience, but how do you convey warmth, confidence and enthusiasm while still remaining authentic?
Setting the Right Tone
1. The most common mistake candidates make in an interview is poor eye contact. Be careful here… too much is uncomfortable and too little seems “shifty” or insincere.
2. Wear clothing that’s appropriate for the position. It seems obvious, but this is not the place to show off your trendy fashion sense or wear loud colors and patterns. That may convey the impression you are unable to “fit in” as part of the team or that you crave attention.
3. Be confident in your answers and use facts to back up your claims. If you are skilled in a particular area, share a fact such as you won a particular award – not just that “you’re the best at your job.”
4. Be energetic. Show your enthusiasm for your career and the passion you have to contribute to this company. Lean in a little and sell yourself in a humble way. Be engaging.
5. Share the credit with your team members. No one likes to work with those who take all the credit. Explain how others contributed to your successes and how you all worked together as a team to get results.
6. Answer questions concisely, but fully. Practice your answers so you’ll be able to convey your skills and experience without rambling on or repeating yourself. You want the interviewer to have all the time they need to feel comfortable hiring you.
7. Whatever you do, don’t exaggerate. It rarely feels true and the interviewer will be skeptical of anything you say after that. If you claim to have done something that you can’t back up when probed for details, you’ve just blown it.
8. Be honest about weaknesses and failures. Let’s face it. Everyone makes mistakes, and interviewers know that. Be real and give an honest answer – it shows you’re self-aware. Then explain what you’ve learned and how you’ve overcome it.
9. Smile! This is a little like the eye contact rule – too much is scary and too little seems awkward. You want to show that you’re warm, friendly and engaging.
10. A few notes about your voice: Body language certainly makes an impression, but consider what your voice says about you.
- Put some life into your voice – don’t speak in a monotone... it’s boring.
- Pace yourself so you’re not speaking too quickly or too slowly.
- Try to avoid the “ums” and “ahhs” and long pauses. If you need a minute to gather your thoughts, that’s fine, but it can become awkward if it goes on for too long.
- Finally, don’t speak too softly or too loudly and be sure to speak clearly. No mumbling.
Don’t get so caught up in your answer preparation that you sound over-rehearsed and robotic. Of course, you need to be able to speak intelligently about the job and your skills, but don’t “memorize” your answers. Take a moment to formulate a thoughtful response or ask for clarification of a question. And best of all, do a practice run with someone you trust and ask for honest feedback about “how you come off.” It wouldn’t hurt to record your practice, review it and make adjustments.
It’s all about being authentic, personable and engaged. That will go a long way toward getting the job in addition to your list of skills and experience.