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Sometimes moving your career forward and landing an offer means focusing on the people around you, not just on the job. And sometimes impressing an employer has nothing to do with your skill sets or industry knowledge and everything to do with your ability to read a scene, connect with others and form honest relationships.

As you prepare for your upcoming interview, make sure you research the company carefully and prepare an elevator pitch that emphasizes your job-related strengths. But while you’re doing these things, make a plan to connect with your interviewer as well. Try these moves.

Listen, don’t just talk.

When your interviewer speaks, focus on them, not just on yourself. Instead of organizing your response in your head, look for nuances in your interviewer’s word choices and body language and try to determine what they really mean, which may extend beyond what they’re actually saying. If they’re asking you, for example, “Do you consider yourself a leader?” don’t just respond by saying yes. Instead, provide them with all the background information they needs to make a decision that matters to the company. Tell them exactly how and why your leadership skills can help them to accomplish goals.

Consider your interviewer a friend.

You just met this person, and you may or may not have a close working relationship with them in the future. Show them the respect you would show any other interesting new acquaintance who might later become a friend. Give them the benefit of the doubt, look for positive aspects of their personality, and look for common ground between their goals and your own. In other words, treat them exactly as you would want to be treated if your positions were reversed.

Give more than what’s asked of you.

If your interviewer says “We’re opening a new branch of the company in France and we’re looking for bilingual account managers. Can you speak French?”, answer honestly. But go beyond the language issue and provide more information than what’s been asked. Explain other ways in which your unique skills and experience can help the company with this specific expansion.

Eye contact and body language are critical.

Relaxed, focused, fearless eye contact can help you put another person at ease in any kind of conversation, and so can body language that says, “I like you, I’m comfortable with you, and I’m comfortable with myself as well.” This may mean leaning toward the person as they speak and leaning back when it’s time to process and think about what they’ve said. It may also mean moving on when they’re no longer interested in the topic at hand, or having the courage to make small jokes if the occasion calls for it. Let them set the rhythm and tone of the conversation and follow along while remaining true to your own personality.

For more on how to connect with new acquaintances, including network contacts and interviewers, turn to the Milwaukee career management experts at Extension today! You can also check out our available Milwaukee job openings!

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