It’s always interesting to meet people at interview and then to see them later in a normal day to day setting, because more often than not the two personalities are entirely different.
As a former recruitment consultant I have conducted numerous interviews and my biggest frustration is often a person’s lack of preparation for interview. In fact, I often wonder whether our institutions are really fulfilling their responsibilities in preparing people for the outside world because often individuals present themselves in such a way that suggests they have had no guidance on the importance of presentation in an interview and so, at the very first hurdle when really they probably have a lot to offer, they fall.
For that reason, I have a few tips that may just make the difference between an interviewer making a negative decision about you within the first 10 seconds, and them offering you a second interview or even a job.
Firstly, always remember that to have got to the interview stage, your CV has impressed someone enough to think that you may be suitable for the post. Your credentials have passed the initial test and somewhere within your experience, education or even just in how you come across in the writing of your CV, someone has recognised that you are a person they would like to meet. This is a good thing – they want to meet you so don’t assume they want you to fail.
Secondly, always remember that they need a suitable person to fill a post – this is not a one way street, they need someone just as much as you need the job in the first place – they are not doing you a favour, they will be paying you to carry out a job that they require. You are not the inferior party at an interview. You may have competition in alternative candidates, but that does not make you any less important.
That is not to say however, that over-confidence (arrogance) and intense questioning is the approach to adopt – they may want someone for the job, but they want someone to work for them, not the other way around!
Of course there are hundreds of interview tips out there – all you have to do is Google ‘interview tips’ and everything from ‘imagining your interviewer naked’ to ‘always make a positive out of a negative’ will be listed. From my experience of being both interviewee and interviewer however, there are only a few key things that you should remember:
Honesty – you don’t want a job that isn’t suitable for you just as much as they don’t want someone that isn’t suitable for them so be honest about your experiences and your ambitions, but make that honesty positive – explain how your ideas are going to work for them and how your approach will be a benefit, don’t just think you need to list a lot of buzz words so they can tick a few boxes, this is your opportunity to show them who you are.
Confidence – there is nothing more attractive in a candidate than a good balance between confidence and humility. This applies to life, not just interviews – everyone likes a genuine, sincere, decent human being – often likeability goes further than any interview technique or certificate you could ever have. Potential employers will be ‘imagining’ working with you – if they like you, you’re already half way there.
Last of all, there are two basic things you can do to help convey yourself as the honest, confident person we just mentioned, and they are very easy, but so often overlooked – ALWAYS start with a good strong hand shake and good eye contact.
You would be amazed how quickly people can change their mind about someone given a good confident hand shake and the sincerity they will or won’t see in the whites of someone’s eyes.
The bottom line? It isn’t rocket science – first impressions are everything. If you meet someone at a party and are looking everywhere in the room but at them, they will either think you are rude or disinterested or both – if you initially look shy but walk into a room and give someone a good strong handshake I would bet in that instant they are questioning their initial judgement. If you are ever unsure – think about how you would like people to perceive you, think about the person you want to be, and as long as you maintain that persona, it is you they are interviewing, and not somebody else.