March 7, 2013
How to talk yourself into a job
Last week, we discussed how to "run" a job interview (in the event your job interviewer is unprepared, inexperienced or untrained).
Most of the time, though, interviewers are reasonably competent and you will not need to manage your job interviews. Your biggest problem will be managing yourself!
Let's be honest: Interviewing for a job is stressful, especially in a tough job market. And the longer you're out of work, the more stressful it is.
But job hunting is all about selling, and selling is all about making an authentic human connection, and authenticity is all about being relaxed, or at least appearing relaxed, so that you can relate -- on a human-to-human level -- to your potential employers.
In brief, you gotta make them like you.
Fortunately, this is not as tough as it sounds. The key is to think of your interview not as a test you're terrified you're going to fail but as a conversation. In a conversation, you are not up on a stage all by yourself, performing. No, a conversation is a congenial give-and-take. A conversation is just talking.
So how do you talk yourself into a job?
First, consider that the other person may be nervous, too. Or maybe just rushed. Put your interviewer at ease and earn that person's gratitude, liking and respect. Plus, you will have less space to worry about your own nerves.
Using familiar language is a good way to put people at ease. Every industry has buzzwords or jargon. Show that you are familiar with them -- just don't overdo it.
So is asking questions and listening, with real interest, to the answers. Let the person talk! Ask intelligent follow-up questions.
Of course, when you speak, do so clearly and audibly. Avoid "upspeak," which makes you sound unsure of yourself.
And always, act engaged. Lean forward a little. Keep your hands open and relaxed in your lap. Smile. Maintain friendly eye contact.
Thinking of a job interview as a conversation -- one where you are your best self -- just might do the trick. Try it.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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