The presidential race, finally behind us, is truly the longest job interview ever. However, some of you may experience interviews that seem years long, even if they only last hours. How can you steel yourself to succeed in even the most tiring and involved interview scenarios? Use the following advice to prepare for the inevitable extended interview you will face during your job hunt.
1. Ask questions in advance. You want to know what type of interview to expect. Don't only ask about the time you'll start and expect to finish. Be sure to find out who you should expect to meet, and if the interview will be individual or with a group or other job seekers.
2. Be well rested. Regardless of how long you expect the interview to last, make sure you are well rested and prepared to showcase your best self. In case the interview lasts longer than you expect, you don't want to lose steam or appear sleepy.
3. Prepare stories and examples to describe your successes. When you're subject to an extended interview or a series of interviews, your preparation (or lack thereof) will be subject to extended scrutiny. If you need to address many people's needs and explain your skills and accomplishments to a variety of stakeholders, you'll need to be prepared with a slew of examples of how, when, and where you used the skills the company will need from you in the job in question.
Consider structuring your stories to include a description of the Problems you solved, the Actions you took, and the Results you accomplished. (These PAR stories can be very useful for all job seekers.) The longer your interview, the more opportunities you'll have to explain how your past actions demonstrate that you can solve the organization's current problems. Don't underestimate how important it is to prepare these stories in advance.
4. Pay attention to your body language. If you've been grilled for hours on end, even the most well-rested candidate may begin to get fatigued. Don't let your body language indicate you're tired or bored with the questioning. Interviewer No. 5 doesn't know that you were peppy and friendly in your morning session; she is going to judge you based on how you act in her meeting.
You can always pick out a pessimist by his or her body language—slumped shoulders, eyes down, expressionless (or frowning). No one wants to hire someone who seems sad or pessimistic. Straighten up, smile, and make eye contact. Research shows that body language makes up more than half of how people perceive you. That means that you may be describing your greatest business accomplishment, but if your posture isn't good and you don't make effective eye contact, you might as well tell the interviewer about the time you lost your portfolio on the way to a presentation.
5. Practice active listening. By the time it's the end of a long day of interviews, it's easy to let your mind wander during questions and to lose focus. Be aware and mindful of your reactions to the interviewer. Be sure you nod and smile, but avoid interrupting or making predictions in your mind about what they are going to ask you. Keep focused on the questions, and don't let your mind fast-forward to future meetings or what may come next.
6. Keep your answers succinct and to the point. Even if you have a lot of time to try to impress interviewers, don't draw out your answers or talk for longer than absolutely necessary. Remember, most people don't have long attention spans, so get to the point when you respond to inquiries. Include details that will intrigue the interviewer and make him want to know more, and be sure to actually answer the question.
Anticipate an extended interview with a positive attitude and the right preparation and you'll wow them with your expertise.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.