Friday, April 12, 2013

Adapting to the Changing Landscape of Job Interviews

     Successful people are versatile.  This is a well-documented fact in the world of business.  The search for gainful, rewarding employment is no different.  Possessing flexibility is not only necessary; it may be the determining factor of whether the job you are seeking is offered.  Where will a prospective employer first observe your adaptability?  During the interview process.

     In the present job market, adjusting to the changing landscape of interviews is essential.  For instance, web based video job interviews are becoming a practical tool when organizations decide to screen candidates for potential employment.  Digital interviewing platforms operated by businesses such as HireVue, Montage, and GreenJobInterview are able to evaluate pools of talented candidates around the world via webcam.  Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Ocean Spray utilize this technology, in addition to many other Fortune 500 companies. 

     What does this type of innovative technology mean to you and your ability to nail your next job interview?  It might just mean the difference between employment and continuing to pound the pavement.  How can you adapt to this changing landscape?  The short answer:  Exercise the knowledge that you already possess.

     Regardless of whether you are speaking into the eyes of a human being or directly into the electronic eye of a webcam, building positive rapport is imperative for quality outcomes.  Though it has been offered countless times, one piece of advice speaks to successful results:  “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”  Whether in person, via your iPhone, through any of your electronic devices, or even jotted down in the lines of a handwritten note, employers seek professionalism and initial encounters mean everything.

     Job interviews are the final step in the elimination process and a successful outcome hinges on how well you have conducted yourself while being evaluated.  An accurate, error-free résumé accompanied by favorable references, along with the appropriate knowledge and skill-sets needed for the job, are integral parts of an effective start; but, likeability will play into the employer’s final decision as well.  Consider the following:  On average, an employee spends eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week at work, so it makes sense when a decision-maker asks him- or herself, “How well will this candidate get along with the entire team?”

     As with many aspects of the employment process, there is no one shortcut that results in instant success; however, there are seven proven rules that, if followed, will pay large dividends as you prepare to share your ideas, personality, and qualifications with the interviewer(s).

     Preparation breeds confidence:  Prior to the interview, it is essential to conduct ample research on the organization you are interested in joining, the particular position you are applying for, and other variables that are relevant to the industry as a whole.  Completing this exercise will give you the poise needed to illustrate why you are the best candidate for the job.

     Develop essential questions:  During the research stage, compile a list of straightforward questions that you plan to ask during the interview.  When considering the list, make sure the questions are to the point and nonintrusive.  You want the employer to recognize that you have done your homework without being too inquisitive.  Developing questions does not mean that you must ask them; however, if the opportunity arises, you will be prepared.

     Practice, practice, and practice some more:  Those who practice well play well.  This theory also applies to those who interview well.  Practice answering interview questions using proper grammar, while being able to describe your strengths and weaknesses when asked.  During this exercise, prepare actual examples that illustrate past successes and accomplishments, and never shy away from asking trusted family members or friends for help and an honest critique.

     Be punctual:  Employers are always searching for those who are reliable.  If you cannot be on time, be early.  To ensure your prompt arrival, plan to drive to the interview location in advance of your appointment to know exactly where you are going.  Choose your wardrobe the night before so additional stress is not added.  If the interview is being conducted via webcam, tidy up your workspace prior to joining the online discussion.  Time, or the lack thereof, can be your greatest asset or a major detractor.  Let time work in your favor, not against you.

     Be yourself and stay calm:  Decision-makers are shaping opinions of you from the moment of your initial interaction.  First impressions are being formed based on your attire, tone of voice, and eye contact.  Be true to who you are when answering questions and discussing your background.  Relax and stay as calm as possible throughout the process.  Slow down your breathing and take a moment to regroup, while listening carefully to comments and questions being posed.

     Enjoy building rapport:  When two or more people feel as though they are reading from the same page, it is human nature to become more at ease.  Be the first to extend respect to the employer conducting the interview.  The message you project through verbal and nonverbal communications will either suggest that you can be trusted or not.  The more confidence the decision-maker has in you, the greater chance you have of being offered the position.  Trust is a key factor when it comes to building rapport. 

     Follow through and follow up:  If you say you are going to do it, then be sure to follow through.  Regardless of the field, the employment landscape is more competitive than ever before.  Employers want individuals who follow through on their promises in a timely manner.  Next, they are in search of those who will follow up as well.  The conclusion of a job interview is a perfect example.  Once the discussion has finished, it is imperative that you immediately forward any additional information or materials that the employer requested.  A handwritten note of thanks is of no less importance.  When decision-makers see the quickness of your follow through and the sincere appreciation you have for their time, it sends a strong message that once again helps to build an ongoing connection.
     These guidelines will help you as you continue adapting to the changing landscapes of job interviews today.  Be aware, however, that your preparation, practice, and follow up are only a few elements that equal success; nonetheless, the more you employ these techniques, the better off you will be.  Whether you are taking part in an online video interview or seated in a boardroom across from a three-member panel, exercising your knowledge and utilizing these skills will take what may seem like a daunting task and give you a solid foundation from which to build.  With the right amount of planning, you can nail your next job interview.