"But it seemed to go so well! We talked about all sorts of cool stuff…campus life… the weather… the football season. I just don't understand why I got a rejection letter…"
Beware the interview that gets too chummy. It may be that the interviewer has already rejected you and out of politeness passes the remaining time talking about everything but you.
The truth about interviewing is that most initial interviews last only about five minutes. Oh, sure, the actual interview always takes longer than that. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Sometimes even an hour. But the interview is usually over in five minutes or less. If you have not convinced the interviewer by the five-minute point that you are the right person for the job (or at least a contender who should be taken to the next level), it can be next to impossible to recover. Recoveries do happen. But they are rare.
In that first five minutes of the interview, the interviewer will have noted many critical aspects. Your appearance. Your grooming. Your handshake. Your personal presence. Your eye contact. Your articulation. And, most importantly, your personality. Notice that there is typically no mention of anything related to your major, your coursework, your GPA, or even your work experience. That is what got you to the interview in the first place. But it is the soft factors that will take you to the next level.
Having taken the right courses, having good grades (critical!), and having related work experience are all important initial qualification criteria. But they do not matter one iota if you are not a strong interpersonal fit for the employer.
The truth is that most interviewers rate individuals highly who are able to present themselves well in a face-to-face interview. They are seeking to recommend those who will be a good reflection upon themselves and their selectivity. So most interviewers naturally gravitate to specific "critical success factors" that have worked for them consistently in the past.
No matter how good you look on paper, no matter how well you present yourself, no matter how well you answer their questions, you will not get the job unless you make a personal connection with the interviewer. They need to know from the very start that you are someone who can be trusted to represent them and their company. How do you establish that trust? Simple. At the very beginning of the interview, when the introductions are being made, concentrate on looking directly and solidly into the interviewer's eyes, giving them your sweetest and most endearing smile. Think of it as a "shy smile," or even a "cute smile." The bottom line is to make it a warm and friendly smile. Then think about the fact that you are truly pleased to be there in the presence of this person. Establish that personal connection both physically and mentally with the interviewer.
How do you know when the connection is made? When they return your smile in a comfortable, relaxed manner you are connected and ready to communicate on a personal level. Remember, employers only hire people with whom they are comfortable. If the connection is not made, they won't hire. So take the time to establish that personal connection.
Then, as a second step, simply visualize yourself working with or for this person in the future as if it is a present reality. Treat them like your manager before they are your manager. Or your peer. You will be operating at the work level instead of the interview level. This will greatly enhance the opportunity for making a personal connection with the interviewer.