Preparing to attend a job interview is mostly scary for many people. You’ve got to ensure you’re on your best behaviour, carry a significant CV, and dress to impress. However, there’s so much more to being successful at an interview, and there are aspects that applicants sometimes forget, or at least mistakenly relegate to the back burner.
One of these aspects is that employers use the interview to get to know you – the real you. So they’re not super impressed with a gold bordered CV or the fact that your shoes might match your handbag. Being real in an interview, being yourself, is almost an intangible factor; nobody can really give you lessons, but it’s an integral part of the interview process. Be crisp, be focused, be present. This is probably more important than anything else.
For sure, a recruitment manager will ask the expected questions about your abilities, skills, education, experience, personality and values, etc. These are the basics, but they will also be evaluating you – sometimes subconsciously – with regard to how you present yourself: how you are seated (body language); your level of calm and confidence; your knowledge of the company; your air of enthusiasm; and an inquiring mind.
Charge up your interview interaction
Set the mindset before you leave the house:
Make sure you project a friendly, confident, professional air from the moment you set out for your interview. You want to come across as calm and organised, not flustered and under-prepared. You want everyone who comes into contact with you to see you in as positive a light as possible. In every part of the journey and the engagement, you should project an attitude of energy, enthusiasm and interest.
Don’t make what you wear everything about you:
Wear neat clothes, clean, and appropriate. Nothing too bright, nothing too ‘out there’ in fashion or quirkiness. But Gucci bags or designer shoes may not impress as much as you might think. Employers will be looking at personality, intellect and competency in answering questions.
Know the job description and research the company:
This will put you in a good position to ask the right questions, and to match up the tasks with your experience and develop talking points that assist the conversation to move smoothly and with substantiation. When you are aware of the company’s mission and value system, you are in a far stronger position to participate in the conversation with intelligence and solidity, highlighting the key achievements you’ve had that relate to the role you’re applying for.
Pause before answering questions:
Think about what you are going say, marshal your words. Answering too quickly may reveal anxiety, and you might well spew out either the wrong answer or an indefinable babble. Or you may talk too much. Keep to the topic at hand, and answer the question directly. Lean forward and keep eye contact. Answering questions seriously and genuinely is the best way to bolster your confidence.
Develop your listening skills:
Don’t interrupt the interviewer with a sudden question, or deliver an answer you think might be the right answer before the interviewer has finished speaking. This gives you the wrong information to continue the conversation, and will give the interviewer an impression of unprofessional conduct and a tendency to bombastic behaviour. Keep listening, absorb and comprehend before replying.
Never complain – about anything! Particularly your previous employers:
Speak positively about your previous experiences. Always remain motivated, passionate about what you want to achieve. If pressed as to why you are moving, always use the positive statement of career direction, greater job satisfaction. Do not at any stage, until the topic is brought up, talk about money. Never say you are moving for more money, and never say that you had problems with your previous boss. Don’t mention those aspects, even if they might be lurking under the radar as the truth.
Be as prepared as possible, but also as be as natural as possible:
Some may advise you to have questions and answers practiced and at the ready. This might be a mistake. A prospective employer may be interviewing many people in a day, and what they don’t want to hear is the same approach from each person. It’s attitude and aptitude that will sell your potential. Keep some topics top of mind in case you have to make small talk, but keep to the topic of the job as much as possible. Explain your career path and your ambitions, your expectations and your intentions of contribution and team participation.
What do you want your interviewer to remember about you?
This is an aspect people tend to forget. You may be so keen to make a good impression, you become blind to the actual attributes you are presenting. Corporate fit is important to the person interviewing you. They are usually looking for someone who not only has the education, qualifications and experience to do the job, but someone who will get along with the other people on the team and within the company.
And very often, this is the middle-of-the-road person with a sense of humour, a clear grasp of the company’s vision, and a well-conveyed desire to contribute to the success of the company as a whole. If you are prepared on all levels for your interview, it will undoubtedly go well.