Past Issues

March 04, 2013

Interview Tips Guaranteed to Get Their Attention

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Have a job interview coming up?

Mary Eileen Williams, Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor

If you have a job interview coming up, think Oprah!

How would you like to make a great first impression, connect with the interviewer and convey your points with confidence and clarity? If so, it's time to borrow a page from the self-help gurus and act "as if."

Oprah Winfrey is the undisputed master of interviewing and no one could argue that this great communicator was born into circumstances that would guarantee her success. Rather, her phenomenal rise to stardom came about as a result of a number of personal factors that would bode well for anyone seeking employment to adopt. So, as you prepare for your next interview, remember the gurus' advice and act "as if... Oprah."

The following are three characteristics that set this media queen apart. These same factors will help you to distinguish yourself in a job interview and set you up as the candidate of choice:

Do your due diligence: Oprah prides herself on thorough preparation and doing her homework down to the last detail. As you ready yourself for your job interview, make certain you're well versed on the job requirements and prepared to target your response to the interviewer's initial background probe.

"Tell me about yourself" is your invitation to state your skills and examples that relate specifically to the position description. Follow this tact throughout the interview and you'll be presenting yourself as a match to the hiring manager's needs and the problem-solver the organization has been seeking.

Personality is a major plus: Oprah exudes an aura of professionalism blended with personal warmth. Her body language underscores her energy and engagement in the conversation. She smiles often and easily.

You'll want to display a similar friendly yet professional demeanor when you interview. Better yet, be certain to go beyond body language and openly express your interest and enthusiasm for the position. Employers want to hire problem-solvers but, equally important, they want to work with someone who's pleasant to be around and who wants the job.

Ask the right questions: Here's where you can really use Oprah's style to make a difference. Your job interview is your opportunity to sell yourself to the employer's needs. But it can be difficult to thoroughly understand the specifics of what the hiring manager is looking for. The posting/job description will provide you with a general idea, however you'll want to ask the right questions to dig a bit deeper and uncover the details.

So do as Oprah does and ask well-thought-out, open-ended questions. For example asking, "what do you consider to be the most critical components of the position?" Or, "what needs to get done immediately?" will start the hiring manager opening up about their real concerns and help you present yourself -- once again -- as the problem-solver they've been looking to find.

Therefore the next time you prepare for an interview, remind yourself of the positive qualities of the Talk Show Queen and "think Oprah." Prepare well, exude warmth and professionalism, ask the right questions, and anticipate success. That's a combo that is guaranteed to get their attention and, with a little luck, you just might ace the interview and land the job!

Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife job seekers to achieve satisfying careers. Visit her website, Feisty Side of Fifty.

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