Interviewing advice on the internet abounds. But while we all by now know the basics, certain tactics may not get the amount of airtime they deserve. Experts we heard from said that, despite being underestimated, the following 10 interviewing strategies are ones worth keeping in your toolkit.
1. Admitting when you’re not an expert.
“If you're not an expert in something, it's okay to admit it,” Andrea Madden, an FGB VIP, said. “When I interviewed for my current position, I let them know that I don't have much experience with graphic design. Once I got the job, my boss actually said he was glad I had said that upfront because it allowed him to make sure there was part of the budget set aside to hire a freelance designer. No one expects you to be an expert in everything, and as long as you know your strengths and weaknesses, that's what matters.”
2. Pausing before you respond.
“No matter how prepared you are for an interview, it's likely you will at one point be asked a question you don't have a rehearsed response or ready example for — and it's OK to take a moment to gather your thoughts before you attempt to respond,” Gwyn Gaubatz, an FGB VIP and Product Manager, said. “I promise that the length of a thoughtful pause is NOT as long and noticeable as it feels in the moment! But instead of freezing like a deer in headlights, narrate for the interviewer: ‘That's a great question! I'm going to need a moment to consider the best way to respond.’"
3. Looking polished.
“Image is everything!” DeLisa Dawkins, an FGB VIP, marketing strategist and residential realtor, said. “Never underestimate the power of being ‘put together.’ You are judged within the first five seconds of meeting an individual. From your hair to your nails — you are your own brand! Represent yourself as the success you are.”
4. Using “we” instead of just “I” or “you.”
“Good candidates will make suggestions toward assuming they will be selected for the position. This is not to mean they should be overbearing, but they should ask and answer questions with a mindset of ‘we,’” Anthony Babbitt, a business consultant and executive mentor, said. “For example, a candidate may ask questions similar to ‘What metrics would my team be measured on and how soon would you expect us to achieve them?’ or ‘Where will my department fit within the five-year plans of the company?’ Similarly, this ‘we’ mindset should be used when answering questions, such as ‘my team,’ ‘our department,’ and ‘our future goals when working together.’ When a candidate starts painting a picture of the company with themselves in the frame, it makes the leap to an offer shorter for the HR managers.”
5. Incorporating (appropriate) humor.
“Don't be afraid to be light-hearted and crack an appropriate joke if the opportunity presents itself,” Ethan Taub, CEO of Debtry, said. “You are walking into an arena that is falsely set up to create pressure. Showing an appropriate humor in the right points can really help your personality shine through, while helping recruiters remember who you are and showcasing just how easy you find situation with strangers — a bonus for employers that will be able to see just how easily you could fit in with the team dynamic.”
6. Mentioning relevant hobbies.
“Personally, I want to see candidates who have been productive in their spare time, whether it's by picking up a book, learning a new language or skill or just doing something to better themselves,” Mark Condon, founder and hiring manager at Shotkit, said. “This shows me that they have the desire to do more in life and are willing to work harder even when nobody is watching”
7. Telling a story.
“Craft and practice a few stories that show and don't just tell about yourself and your skill set,” Lauren Cohen, an executive coach, said. “Figure out what you want to make sure the interviewer learns about you and make sure you work it into an answer during the interview. Storytelling will make you more personable and memorable, and no matter what role you are interviewing for, you will be glad this is something you've rehearsed ahead of time. Time yourself so you know how long these answers are, and have short and long versions for each.”
8. And making one of your stories be about a time you failed.
“Tell a story about a time when you failed spectacularly,” Dr. Matt Marturano, Vice President of Orchid Holistic Search, said. “For one thing, storytelling is a much sought after meta-skill that will help you stand apart. For another, being able to speak with poise about your failures demonstrates confidence. Just be sure to mention what you learned, and how you changed your behavior as a result.”
9. Relating to your interviewers on an interpersonal level.
“As someone who hires freelance trainers, one technique that I have come across that can be highly effective in interviews is the concept of 'social engineering,’” Dr. Valeria Lo Iacono of Symo Training said. “In an interview, you can use social engineering to build a connection with the people giving the interviews… If you are able, find out who the interviewers will be. Research online to find out what you can about the interviewers. These days social media will usually be sufficient, or use LinkedIn. Then find keywords and terms that relate to those interviewers' own interests and passions. Next, build those keywords into your interview. You want to do this in a meaningful way, though, i.e. not to lie in any way but to find common ground and interests with the interviewer.”
10. Being yourself.
“The number one way to sell yourself in an interview is to BE YOURSELF,” Alyson Garrido, an FGB VIP and Career Coach, said. “We often perform or look for the 'right' answers that an interviewer wants to hear rather than sharing the truth. Go into the interview with stories that really show who you are, what you've accomplished and how you work through problems. This authenticity will give the hiring managers a clear picture of who they are hiring and how you'll fit in with the team as well as ensuring you can continue to be yourself once you get the role.”