Put on Your Game Face: What You Want a Potential Employer to See

In 2015, a tweet from Matt Buckland, a prominent talent manager in London, went viral. He had an unpleasant run-in with a man on the morning train, and then that man appeared before him in an interview. It’s a cautionary tale that all candidates can learn from: You never, ever know who is watching you. When you’re actively engaged in a job search, you must always have your game face on. Here are some strategies to ensure you don’t end up the subject of a viral tweet after your next interview.

Know Your Cards

Professional poker players know their cards. They commit their hand to memory as soon as it is dealt so they don’t have to check and recheck their hand, interrupting the flow of the game. In an interview, “knowing your cards” means knowing what you are going to say ahead of time so you don’t stumble or get stumped. That doesn’t mean memorize canned answers, however. Instead, practice answering common questions and have a pool of anecdotes you can easily draw from throughout your meeting to illustrate the reasons why you are the best candidate for the job.

Mind Your Manners

From the security guard to the parking attendant to the receptionist – treat everyone as though they were the CEO of the organization. Hiring managers often ask other members of the staff how candidates treat them in the waiting and welcome areas to get a feel for the interviewee’s “true self.” Smile, be polite and remember that eyes and ears are on you at all times.

By All Means, Smile

Interviews are stressful, and it’s easy to forget to smile when you’re trying to remember to sit up straight, speak slowly, share your best stories, etc. But smiling will actually help you relax and help you connect with the interviewer. Remember, hiring managers want to work with people they like, and it’s hard not to like someone who smiles.

Show Your Enthusiasm

While you should always remain poised and professional, don’t be afraid to let your genuine passion for your work shine through. Interviewers know they can teach someone skills, but they can’t teach them enthusiasm. If you love what you do, don’t hide it.

Answer Questions Directly

Interviewers are looking for honest, candid answers to their questions. They don’t want to hear rehearsed answers pulled off of an online cheat sheet. Be genuine, listen to the question and provide real answers. Make it clear you took the time to research the job and the organization and you are truly interested in their unique opportunity.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

You should come to the interview prepared with a list of questions that goes beyond salary and benefits. What, exactly do you want to know about the job so you can make an informed choice? Write those questions down. Creating your own list of personalized questions will set you apart from the competition and will demonstrate you are genuinely interested in learning more.

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