We hear a lot of advice about preparing for an interview. It’s always about how early you sleep and wake up, how good your breakfast is, how familiar you are with the route to the company’s premises, how much you researched the company beforehand and how ready you are for the possible questions.
It’s a very different story when you’re actually doing the interview, though. Comparing your home practice to the actual interview is like comparing a practice exam with the real exam. You can always review a practice exam after checking the answers, but when you submit your real exam papers your answers are final and will determine your score.
Similarly, there is no way to undo the impact of your answers on the interviewer’s assessment of you. And of course, your performance at the interview will determine a significant part of the result of your application.
The only real weapons you have in the on-the-spot situation of an interview are signals – cues and habits, whether verbal or non-verbal, that tell the interviewer you have what they need for the position. Anyone can answer a question knowledgeably if they really know what they’re talking about, but when done in an unconvincing way that knowledge is just wasted.
So how do you send out these signals for interview success? Let’s run over each one in the coming weeks to get you ready for your next turn at the candidate’s seat.
MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT.
This is probably the most familiar piece of interview advice to everyone by now. But there isn’t always a description of how to do it effectively without getting nervous. And that’s the biggest hurdle to maintaining eye contact: the awkwardness of looking another person in the eyes when you’re not used to it.
Luckily, there are at least two different ways to reduce the awkwardness of seeing that another person is staring right back at you. These two methods involve focusing on just one point instead of both eyes.
You can try focusing your vision on only one of the interviewer’s eyes. This is known as the triangle method, because it involves your own two eyes making up two points of a triangle with the interviewer’s eye as the third point.
You can also try focusing your vision on the space between the interviewer’s eyes. This has the added advantage of giving them the impression that you are actually looking directly at their eyes.
Through these tricks, you can demonstrate that you have no problems connecting with people and that you don’t hide from direct challenges.