I could be in bed right now
I know what it’s like…
To breeze through an interview without a care in the world. When your well-rehearsed career pitch rolls off your tongue with ease, and is met with agreeable nods from the interviewer who obviously can’t contain his excitement, when he eagerly asks, “So when can you start?” At times like these, you wonder why you even bothered turning up, when you could have simply Skyped in.
In contrast, there are interviews which can make or break our future. They have the power to turn even the most confident candidates, into nervous wrecks, fearing the slightest mistake will be the difference between winning and losing a job. Surviving the interview becomes the number one priority, as we search for any way to overcome our nerves and secure that contract.
Notice, it’s always the interviews which matter most, that we replay in our head, gnashing our teeth as to why we said that!
Thankfully these feelings are universal, as people with incredible experience also struggle under scrutiny. It’s often psychological, as we obsess over the process to the point where, we set ourselves up for failure, forgetting that excellent preparation, coupled with an ability to think on our feet can help us succeed.
The job market is getting more competitive by the day. Before the recession, companies had bigger budgets, and were more flexible in their hiring, if a candidate matched 90% of their criteria, it was considered a good job fit. Nowadays, companies have stricter guidelines, and cannot afford to hire someone unless we are a 100% match. The fact you have been invited for a meeting, is proof the employer already believes you can do the job. A recruiter’s aim is to figure out if what’s written on your CV, matches what you can actually deliver in real life.
Whether you’re up for a job at Mcdonalds or JP Morgan here are 7 interview tips that will help you secure ANY job
1. Preparation is everything
Getting hired starts in our mind. Focus on a positive outcome. Tell yourself you’re brilliant and meditate on the rewards that will result from executing a great interview. Ensure to research the company’s heritage, competitors, and it’s niche in the market. Write down questions you maybe asked, then find an effective answer for each. Remember an interview is a performance so practice makes perfect. Why not interview yourself in the mirror, or grab a trusted friend to listen to the clarity, pitch, and tone of your voice.
Are you really eager?
Go the extra mile, and illustrate commercial awareness, by contacting a customer to ask them:
- What makes the company unique?
- What it’s like doing business with the company?
- What makes the company successful?
Bonus points will be dished out to anyone who can explain their research. Taking initiative is also a fast track method to standing out of a crowd. Not only will you give evidence of your personal enterprise, research skills and genuine interest in the organization, you will also convey a strong sense of business acumen.
2. Good time keeping is professional
Running to an interview like a mad woman is never a good look! It sounds cliche, but try and arrive at the venue, a full 15mins ahead of time, by planning your journey. That way if you need to fix your hair or make-up – you can. On top of that, you’ll have enough time to scope your surroundings i.e check out your competition, and the type of workplace you’re potentially entering. By the time the interview begins, you’ll be composed, without any nasty sweat patches (yuck) or frantic breathing.
3. Sell your experience
The best person doesn’t always win the job, the position usually goes to the candidate who is best at presenting themselves. “Tell me about yourself?” or “Talk me through your CV?” are normally questions asked to ease us in; have a prepared statement, and start strongly with “I’am a project manager with 5 years experience in media” for instance; follow this with a summarized chronology, showing how you got to your current position. No career history is perfect so have a way of relaying this, without getting defensive. Keep your response 2-3mins long, to prevent a snoozefest!
Another cool strategy is the STAR technique, acronym for ‘Situation’: try using it to outline your current job description:
- Describe the situation you were in?
- What was required of you?
- What you did/delegated to others?
- Result of your actions?
4. Confidence will set you apart
3/4 of interviews are failed within 3 minutes of the candidate entering the room because recruiters are put off by weak handshakes, lack of eye contact, poor posture, bad body language, miserable attitudes plus lazy grooming. A recruiter makes early judgements about our trustworthiness, likeability, professionalism, and spends the rest of the interview confirming his opinions. Play up your assets, by doing your hair and make-up properly. Think of yourself as a product, and find unique points about yourself to package into strengths.
Don’t be afraid to pause and think, as nervousness has a habit of making us eat our words. If you find you’re speaking too quickly, just slow down. Interviewers are human and prone to making errors of judgement, such as giving preference to those with a similar background or personality. Work this to your advantage by picking on any hints of shared experience.
Another proven technique is mirroring body language. When we first meet someone, we need to assess quickly whether they are positive or negative towards us, we do this by scanning the other person’s body to see whether they move or gesture the same way we do. Human beings mirror each other’s body language as a way of bonding, being accepted and creating rapport, although we are usually oblivious to the fact we are doing it…see if it doesn’t work on your next date.
5. Statements to avoid
- What’s your annual leave and sickness policy? It doesn’t look great if we’re planning our absence before we’ve even been hired!
- Is it okay if I take this call? It’s not okay to take calls, or text during an interview!
- Oh my God, s**t! Never swear in your interview, even if the interviewer lowers the bar, set the professional tone yourself!
- My previous employer sucked. No matter how mind numbingly boring our previous roles may have been, speaking badly of an employer is unprofessional and reflects badly on our character!
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Doing your job! Genuine answer or not, build a response around the experience you hope to gain, rather than threatening the interviewers job.
6. Take a copy of your CV to the interview with a cover letter
Don’t forget what you’ve written in your covering letter. A one way ticket out of the building is acting surprised about the achievements found on your own CV.
Embellish your qualifications…but not too much.
7. What to do after your interview
Make sure you’re clear about the next steps following your interview. Many organizations take a lot longer to get back to us than they say, hence it may be worth asking: ” So you’ll let me know by next Monday? If I don’t hear by Wednesday is it okay to drop you a line?”
Whether you’re successful or not in securing a role, look at it as a good opportunity to engage people, grow your network and get better for next time round. If you’re not successful, ask for feedback although many corporations are coy in case feedback is used against them.
If you have performed to the best of your ability, displayed all of your relevant technical expertise, demonstrated competencies and communicated in your most engaging manner but you’re still turned down? Then take comfort in knowing it was the wrong firm for you! Sometimes rejection comes from the interviewers gut feeling rather than an outright flaw in your interview technique. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, keep your mind focused on future opportunities.
What do you do to prepare for an interview?
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