Top Ten Rules of Job Interviewing

Rule #1: Keep Your Answers Brief and Concise.
Job candidates often ramble, talking too long or in too much detail when answering questions. Unless you’re asked to give more detail, speak only one to three minutes in response to each question.

Rule #2: Include Concrete, Quantifiable Data.
Job applicants tend to speak in generalities that often fail to convince interviewers of their assets. Include measurable information (dollars, numbers, and percentages) and specific accomplishments—again, in less than three minutes!

Rule #3: Repeat Your Key Strengths Three Times.
Adhere to the training and sales tenet, “say it, say it and say it again”. Articulate your strengths—and how they relate to the employer’s goals and needs—at least three times during the interview. As you find different ways to repeat your strengths, you are embedding them in the mind of the interviewer.

Rule #4: Prepare Five or More Success Stories.
List your five best skills or assets and then prepare a personal “success story” that relates to each one. Each story has to stick to the right format: speak for less than three minutes, include concrete, quantifiable data and repeat key strengths.

Rule #5: Put Yourself on the Team.
Speak less like an “outsider” and more like an “insider” by using “we”, “our” and “I” to position yourself as a competent team member. You might say, “In this position I would evaluate XYZ so that we could achieve our goals.”

Rule #6: Remember that Image is Often as Important as Content.
Physical appearance, attire, gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions and the way that you walk and sit all influence the impression that you make to the employer. Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, stand erect, sit tall, avoid nervous gestures and use body movement (like leaning forward) to convey interest, confidence and authority. As far as attire, always choose conservative over casual.

Rule #7: Ask Questions.
The types of questions you ask and the way that you ask them can make a tremendous impression on the interviewer. Questions give you a chance to impress the interviewer with your expertise, knowledge and prior research—and allow you to maintain subtle control of the interview. Your questions guide the direction of later interviewer questions, emphasize your strengths and gain valuable feedback. Ask the interviewer questions such as: “Which areas of this department would you like to see strengthened?”, “What are the priorities and major challenges you see for this position?” or “Where do you see the major growth potential for this company in the next five years?”

Rule #8: Maintain a Conversational Flow.
The interviewer’s decision is likely to be made in the first 15 minutes of the interview. By consciously maintaining a conversational flow—a dialogue instead of a monologue—you will be perceived more positively.

Rule #9: Research the Company, Product Lines and Competitors.
Research generates important data for you to refer to during the interview. Review annual reports and 10-Ks (pay special attention to CEO statements). Refer to business publications, trade journals and local newspapers and search the Internet for information on the company’s strengths in the business world.

Rule #10: Debrief After the Interview.
For your own files, write a brief summary of the interview. Note any follow-up action you should take and think about how you handled yourself during the interview. Did you communicate all the most important points about your strengths, skills and accomplishments? Did you ask the right questions? How can you improve your “performance” for the next interview? After you evaluate your interview, be sure to send a brief thank you letter that restates your skills, your fit for the position and the company and your interest in the job .