“Look The Part – Give A Winning Interview!”

I seem to be attracting clients looking to improve their interview performance. A sign of the times, I guess. So I looked out for an article I wrote a few years ago that I wrote in consultation with a recruitment consultant. I hope it helps:

D Day is here!
It’s here – the day that could change your life! You’ve carefully prepared yourself by researching the company. You have practised going through the obvious questions (have a look here for the commonly most asked interview questions – just see how you would answer all these). You are well briefed. Now it’s your confidence and personality that gets the interview panel to choose you. So you will need: –

  • a professional image
  • to listen to what is actually being asked of you
  • to talk about yourself easily

to know what you want to do in the job.

Make Or Break….
The first impression is the lasting one. Arrive on time, dress appropriately (just one level above the company cultural norm), and most importantly when you are greeted, give a firm handshake and eye contact. Since people make judgements about you in the first 4 – 7 seconds, the make or break moment can come in the company’s foyer when you are being introduced. Watch the body language of the panel to see who is leading.

  • Give everyone eye contact slowly panning around when you talk, and reserve most for the leader
  • Mirror their body language and especially the pace of their delivery – it shows you are in synch with them
  • Some people have a tendency to look away when replying to a question. Keep your head facing in the direction of the person who asked the question and just look past them if you need to reflect before answering. You are still keeping them engaged in what you are saying.
  • Listen carefully – be sure you’re answering the question that’s being asked (some of them are in two parts so answer both)
  • If a question flusters you, take a breath and slowly repeat it to give you time to think
  • Be prepared to tell them about yourself – prepare 5 qualities of yours, your strengths and weaknesses and 4 or 5 anecdotes to illustrate them
  • Beforehand, rehearse in your imagination a triumphantly successful interview and smile – even a false one helps circulate endorphins that make you feel good. And the unconscious cannot distinguish between a vividly imagined event and a real one – so you have already got the job before you walk in through the doorway!
  • Research the company you want to join – ask around, look at their website and Google them (obvious I know!)
  • Make sure you know which position you want in the company
  • And be prepared to talk about your passion and how this position will fulfil it. Talk about your short term goals.

Relax and enjoy it. Some of the best interviews become easy conversations. Take your time. Allow your breathing to be steady and your voice calm. Smile only when it warrants it – too much and you’ll seem submissive and too eager to please. At the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama already looked presidential. So if you want to give an impression of calm professionalism and easy confidence – like Obama, you already look the part.

How NOT to……!
Vice Presidents and Personnel Directors of 100 large corporations were asked for their most unusual experiences in job interviews. They reported that candidates: –

  • Said they hadn’t had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries whilst being interviewed.
  • A balding candidate excusing himself, returned wearing a large hairpiece.
  • A candidate who said that if he was hired he would demonstrate his loyalty to the company by wearing the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.
  • An applicant who interrupted the interview to phone her therapist to ask advice on how to answer specific interview questions.

The following are actual quotes from candidates: –

  • “Why am I here?”
  • “Will the company pay to relocate my horse?”
  • “If the pay was right, I’d travel with the carnival.”
  • “Does your company have a policy on concealed weapons?”
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About anrah

Anrah is a business development consultancy specialising in helping senior women in engineering and science, their teams and doctoral students increase 'presence', improve communication and generate impact to win stakeholder buy-in at the highest level.
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