Tips For Interviewing

Tips for interviewing: From getting a job to writing a story, interview skills will help you in every profession. Here are the do's and don'ts.

Many people fail to get the most from an interview because they don't know what's expected. From job searches to journalism, the following do's and don'ts will help you in your next interview.

DO your homework - not just for the Who and What, but also the Why.

Coming into an interview without knowing the background of your subject is rude and irresponsible. Basic preparation includes knowing the proper pronunciation of names, functions within the organization, and if possible, a more complete background of the individual. Stronger still would be to determine what this person is hoping to hear from your conversation. If you can adequately predict what's going to happen, you have the best chance of not being caught off-guard.

DON'T pretend that you know much more than you do.

The point of an interview is for the listener to understand the speaker's area of expertise. At the end of the interview, your subject should be able to give an accurate portrayal of this to a third party. If you try to mislead the subject, you will wind up with a weak interview - either from a lack of your understanding for the subject, or from the subject's lack of trust in you. Admitting your ignorance isn't just honest, it's also the best way to get to a point where true learning can occur.

DO repeat answers to your subject.

It's a simple phrase, but one that will save you from dangerous misunderstandings later: "So what you are saying is..." Interviewers inevitably put things in their own words. After all, you are far more likely to remember and understand it that way. But that doesn't mean that you'll always get them right. Repeating answers, when done in moderation, confirms that you are on the same wavelength as your subject. More importantly, it confirms that you are listening intently.

DON'T look at the clock.

An interview is an intimate and personal experience. After all, where else do you get complete and undivided attention paid to you? When you let your subject know that they are working under a time limit, you undermine the trust and depth of the experience. This prevents the sharing of greater insights.

If your schedule is truly tight, let the subject know at the start of the conversation. That way, they won't be taken by surprise or think that you are blowing them off... and they are much more likely to work with you to give you what you need, during the time constraints.

DO make eye contact. DON'T be a slave to your notes.

Many interviewers avoid eye contact and focus on reading and writing notes during an interview. Neither tactic helps you achieve a rapport. You don't have to make a lifelong friend, but the simple act of making frequent eye contact shows respect for the individual as a thinking person, rather than an aid to the notes you are filling out. Without that rapport, your chance for a truly great interview is minimal.

DON'T end the interview without covering the bases.

No interview is complete without checking to see that all of the bases are covered. Even if everything seems to have been said, a simple "Is there anything we missed?" can save you from a big miscue.

DO follow up with the subject.

When you complete a good interview, you have also created an opportunity for future dialogue. Following up with your subject with the results of the interview adds to your roster of contacts. After all, you never know when you might need to speak to the subject again.

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