You may well have faced a moment in your life when you know what you want to say and are more than capable of doing it, but under pressure, things can sometimes take a funny turn. An interview is one such situation and the crazy thing is that once you strip it down, you’re only been asked a series of questions about you or your career. Although it’s not surprising that the thought of being closely scrutinised can have quite an impact on your nervous system.
Some people thrive on this pressure, feel energised, and perform well in tense situations, but it’s fair to say that the majority of us may find an interview difficult. Interviews are funny things, you’re being taken out of your comfort zone and have strangers asking you all sorts of different questions, so don’t feel hard done by if they don’t go to plan!
Even if interviews don’t go to plan, they are worth persevering with. Success can sometimes happen when you least expect it, and an opportunity can present itself out of nowhere.
To follow are a few tips that may put a few things into perspective and maybe debunk a few interview myths.
I’ve arranged hundreds of interviews, and without question, the most common positive feedback I receive from a potential employer is that they really like the person. I do emphasise the word ‘like’ as likeability is a key factor and it’s beneficial to demonstrate the right personality traits. You may find it surprising, but I cannot remember the last time I saw an employer hire on skills alone. Therefore, my first tip is quite simple. Be cheerful, open, and honest and project genuine verve and enthusiasm. It’s worthwhile leaving a few of your dark tendencies at the door!
Go that extra step, be early, polite and considerate but most of all – listen. To really listen is an art and it demonstrates an air of composure and thoughtfulness. A wise tip is to demonstrate dignity because others will hold you in greater esteem. Some of the most successful people I’ve met don’t show off or boast about their achievements. It’s very important to be polite and considerate. Your potential new boss and colleagues want people around them that are genuine and likeable because it exerts a positive influence on others.
Don’t grumble, dwell on the past, complain, or moan about previous and recent employers. Your career isn’t always a jolly up and at times will be crummy. It may also see you encounter some dreadful and incompetent bosses (hope you’ve left them behind), but to wax lyrical about them at an interview is a turn-off. I used to work alongside someone who always used to reply ‘magnificent’ whenever someone asked how he felt. I did ask him why, and he responded that it always made others feel better around him. It’s seriously worth eradicating all form of negativity from your thoughts and show the brighter side of your personality. Employers like bright & engaging people because it brings energy.
Competence always outweighs confidence. There is a misconception that successful people are confident. Overly confident people are not as good as they think they are, and their exuberance hides gaps in their skill set. They always get found out. Once all the pleasantries are out the way, an employer will be more interested in someone that is competent and has honed their skills by virtue of study or commercial experience. Employers will always look for kindness and empathy over arrogance.
Be genuine in asking the right questions, not ones you think sound well. The better you understand the nature of the role and company ethos, the more likely you will garner the right response. Asking the right questions also gives you breathing space. But, do remember there is a limit on how many you should ask.
Accept there will be differences to your previous job and embrace the new things you will have in common. A shared vision or views of the industry in which you work goes a fair way. Do remember that each company needs different people with different qualities to achieve common goals and objectives. Being in sync with the commercial ideology of your new boss is only a good thing.
You’ll never be able to do everything in a job. Even Mark Zuckerberg can’t run all aspects of his business, so don’t pretend. You’ll win people over by being curious about the role, honest about your abilities and what you can offer, and asking the right questions.
No job or company is utopia. That is an illusionary thing and spending too much time chasing that type of job will only end in heartache. However, if you get that gut instinct and feel a sense of contentment, it’s worth pursuing. If you get the fireworks and butterfly feeling, you’re definitely in the right place!
Dress like it means something. It’s hard to gauge the correct attire nowadays because the dress culture of some companies has significantly changed. But, I can guarantee that people will react differently to you if you make the effort.
The success of your interview will be greatly down to your preparation. You can’t fake research. The fact of the matter is – when you are knowledgeable about a company and the role in hand, it’s not generally difficult to divulge your knowledge, even when the odd nerve makes you forget a thing or two. Most of all, it earns you a huge amount of respect and your potential new employer will take note of you for the right reason.
Do remember that it is just an interview, and if it goes pear shaped, so be it – it’s not life or death. There is always a positive in stretching yourself because you are most alive when you are outside your comfort zone, taking risks, learning & exploring.