Saturday, 5 April 2014

My simple 6 interview tips

It's been a crazy few weeks of relentless interviewing following the threat of (and then actual) redundancy. I'm exhausted and not sure if I have the energy to answer the question, 'What are you doing in your current role?' for the umpteenth time. Nevertheless, interviewing is a fact of life. Even having conducted hundreds of interviews myself as an ex-Recruiter, I still feel that entering an unknown building and trying to impress an unknown person is just as daunting to me now as it was at the beginning of my working life.

I am up to the final rounds of interviews so I thought I'd take the opportunity to impart some of what I have learnt about myself and the interview techniques that work for me, in the hope they might help another. It's important to show enthusiasm over desperation. Being a person with a dependent your head says, 'PANIC!' but this must not show on your face.

There are plenty of formal structured ideas of how an interview should be conducted, but I would like to give a friendlier list of Top 6 Tips for getting the job you want:

1) Be the best version of yourself - This sounds fairly obvious, but it's surprising how tempting it is as an interviewee to fall into a trap of thinking, 'What do they want me to be?' Of course you want to show you are suitable, but you must be true to you. If you project a false image you will be discovered in the end, and that will be counter-productive for both parties.

2) Know your CV and tell the truth - There is a fine line here. In the dating world, it's not advisable to try to impress someone by saying you can relate to their interest as an annual competitor in Iron Man, if in all honesty, you're referring to regularly running for the No. 9 bus. This false projection will not doing you any favours in the end. However, there is nothing wrong with amending your CV to align to the job spec and highlight related strengths in specific areas.  If you have experience in something and it's relevant make sure it's on your CV. You must know the dates, companies, job titles, length of time and reasons for leaving each role. Make sure not to give a negative answer like, 'My manager was a bitch.'

3) Arrive 10 minutes early - I was two minutes late for an interview, and because of the rush and the flustering I was worried I'd blown it instead of focussing on my performance. This is not the best first impression you want to give at interview.

4) Get an early night the day before and DO NOT DRINK! - I once turned up to an interview severely hungover, with my collar inside out and no make-up. My hair looked like I'd been caught in the middle of a fight between a fox and a badger. I sat in the interview with waves of nausea rushing over me. I had to ask him to repeat a question because my mind had focussed on more important things, such as whether I was going to keep that Prosecco down, and whether there was a bin in the room within grabbing distance.

5) Interview the interviewer - I find this works wonders. It's recommended that you take a list of questions with you. I say make sure you memorise these questions. There's no need to wait until the end to ask them, if it's an appropriate moment, ask! This isn't prison. You need to make sure you're happy with them as a company and as potential colleagues. It's your life! I had an interviewer ask ME if I had any reservations about him. That's your aim.

6) Smile, make eye contact and show them you want it - This is by far the most important thing you can do. Any hard-faced, bull dog of a VP or Director or CEO will crack a smile in response because it is the human condition to do so. Ultimately, it's people that build businesses. They want to see you have a personality and you are confident in your abilities. My thoughts: "Yes, this is scary as hell, and I am severely intimidated, but I'm going to be happy, enthusiastic and positive about the whole situation, because I may need a sense of humour if I am to be spending the next few years of my life answering to you!" Make sure you drop the interviewer a succinct thank you email afterwards. Mention one key point from the interview such as, 'Your obvious enthusiasm for the company must be a great motivator for your staff'.

So there you have it. Just remember that you might not want the job anyway. If it's the right company for you then there'll be chemistry from both sides. Intuition is a very important aspect of this process. Just think, you're basing a life-changing decision on an hour in a chair. Dig deep, smile wide and make them want you on their team.

Good luck job-seekers! Here's to the next great opportunity.

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