A Job Interview is Just a Conversation

The more comfortable you are as a conversationalist, the better the interview will be.

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Karen Burns
The tougher the job market, and the longer you’re out of work, the more likely it is that you'll be nervous at job interviews.

This is bad because the key to successful job interviewing is to be relaxed enough to relate, on a human level, to your potential employer. Job hunting is all about selling, and selling is all about making an authentic human connection. Yes, it’s true, a lot of career (and life) success comes down to chemistry.

But fret not: you can ace the whole chemistry thing if you teach yourself to think of your interview, not as a test you’re terrified you’re going to fail, but as a conversation. This means:

Ask questions and listen, with interest, to the answers. Let the person talk! Ask follow-up questions that show you to be intelligent and sane.

Act engaged. Lean forward a little. Keep your hands open and relaxed in your lap. Smile. Maintain friendly eye contact.

Speak clearly and audibly, in complete sentences. Take a breath between thoughts. Avoid “uptalk,” which makes you sound unsure of yourself.

Use familiar language. Every industry has buzzwords or jargon. Using them shows you are part of the in-crowd. Just don’t overdo it!

Consider that the interviewer may be nervous, rushed, or under pressure. Concentrate on putting your interviewer at ease and you’ll earn that person’s gratitude, liking, and respect. Plus you will be too busy to worry about your own nerves.

Be a good conversationalist. Get the job.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com.