Interviews are both an art and a science.
Success boils down to:
Preparation, first impressions, Q&A and finishing strong.
Let's look into part 2 of 4 first impressions and top tips for proactive job seekers.
Ok, so you're uber passionate about the opportunity, you've drunk an obscene amount of coffee, you've; researched, questioned, followed, reviewed and everything inbetween. The CEO of the organisation can't possibly know as much about the place as you do. All of that is great....unless you balls the whole thing up in the first 5 minutes of pleasantries! It's not game over if you do but it will be an uphill climb from the unpleasantries.
First impressions begin the minute you make contact, in whatever form that takes; application, email, phone or face to face. Don't make the common mistake and assume it's all about showing up and performing on the day. The interview is only part of the process. There's opportunity to shine and opportunity to drop the ball in every single interaction.
You had me at "hello"
- Build positive relationships every step of the way with everyone you interact with.
- Always be professional; if you have a telephone interview don't talk on the phone while you're doing the washing up (yes sadly that's a real example).
- Don't just fire off emails without thinking, all correspondence matters.
- If your voicemail screeches whaaattssssuup...? you might want to rethink that (!)
- Treat everyone you meet as you would your interviewer, all staff members are likely to be asked for their opinions.
Top tip: If you answer the phone, respond to emails promptly and try to be flexible in the process (within reason of course) then you put yourself in a very strong position from the get go.
- Wear a smart outfit, even if the organisation has a relaxed dress code.
- Black, navy, dark grey are preferred colours if you choose a suit. Select a smart top or shirt but keep it simple, neat and not too distracting.
- Don't forget those devilish details; shine your shoes, remove that chipped nail varnish, clear out your bag so you don't rummage around looking disorganised.
- Unless you're applying for a role in the fashion or creative industry it's best to think neutral and natural. Generally speaking interviews are not the place for overt expression of personal style. The whole purpose of the interview is to get hired for a job and you want the hiring manager to be focused on your skills and abilities, not distracted by flares, bows and whistles.
Top tip: It's a good idea to dress a level above what will be expected if you do secure a role.
- Leave plenty of time to get to the interview location, find the correct address and relax somewhere nearby to read your notes and freshen up.
- Often the thing that derails candidates is not leaving enough time. They either arrive stressed or fall victim to public transport. Sometimes it's unavoidable but most of the time it's not.
Top tip: visit the location and find the building before interview day. It gives you the opportunity to check out the area and you'll feel less stressed on the big day.
- Greet your interviewer confidently, be aware of your body language.
- Make eye contact and smile...that's very important!
- Try to relax and be yourself, take things one question at a time and just do your best, that's all you can do.
- Make sure that your body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are congruent with what you're saying. If you're trying to convey your passion and interest for the role in a bored voice, fiddling with your watch and looking at the door ...well you might as well just get up and walk through it.
Top tip: offer a limp lettuce handshake and you significantly reduce your chance of success. If a firm handshake doesn't come naturally to you, practice on a buddy beforehand.
You know this already but as we're here:
- Never, ever smoke before or immediately after a face to face interview or during a telephone interview.
- No chewing gum either.
- Make sure your phone is completely turned off, don't just silence it, that vibrating sound is not OK.
Top tip: if you think you might be tempted, remove the cigarettes and gum from your bag in the morning. Set yourself a reminder 15 minutes before your interview slot to silence your phone.
Congratulations, you're half way through my alchemy series. I'm sure you're feeling super confident but no doubt eager to get your teeth into the Q&A section.
Abraham Lincoln would be giving you the nod of approval right now for adopting his wise approach "give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"