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Smash That Interview

By Simon on

The person who gets the job isn’t necessarily the most talented or most experienced, it’s the one that has been a joy to interview by virtue of their attitude and makes the best, long lasting impression. It’s the one that is the most likeable and fits the team dynamic.

Interviews are like theatre and the style of them has not changed that much over the last 20 years or so, so it makes sense to be in the best position to win over hearts and minds. You won’t win everyone over and don’t worry if they don’t go to plan – you may be dodging a bullet! But, here are a few things that may help.

  1. It’s all about fit: Cultural fit is the elusive match between you and the social and behavioral profile of each company. You won’t fit everywhere so never let it bother you, but it does make sense to get a feel of their social profile and see how you may blend into their culture. You can get an idea by looking at their owners’ backgrounds, employees, company history, reputation, market position, and future plans. Ignore rumours and idle gossip – focus on facts and make your own mind up.
  2. Don’t be yourself! Anyone who tells you to be yourself is missing the point. The self you present is the most prepared and polished one who’s done the best research, is on time, immaculately presented, is fully aware of what the job entails, and how best you can add value. An indifferent attitude towards the basics of interview etiquette will significantly devalue your chances.
  3. Likeability is huge: No matter how scientific the interviewing style, likeability is a powerful influence in deciding who gets the job. It is human nature to like people who are honest, decent and hold similar values and interests. Creating this isn’t easy but people can be won over by your humility, openness, honesty and levels of integrity. Credible interviewers and business owners will look at how you engage, listen as well as your levels of politeness, patience, credibility and how you treat others. Your body language, posture, and gestures may also come into question. Communication skills are a highly desired trait – there is a reason we have 2 ears and 1 mouth.
  4. Avoid the weird stuff: No matter how relaxed things may seem, never treat your interview as a confession of your imperfections or cultural, social, or political viewpoints. Be natural but keep some things to yourself. An employer can be worried about making a hiring mistake so destroy their fears, give them peace of mind. Rather than pledge your eternal loyalty (no one stays forever), demonstrate that you’re tuned into the primary and key functions of the role, your desire to do the work, your manageability and willingness, and show that you’ll fit with gang.
  5. Don’t just rely on your education/degree: Companies want people that can add value. Bring new skills, energy and motivation to do well. Relying on your education to pull you through your interview is a mistake. Education is a different world to work where deadlines, people and financial implications come into place. Instead, spell out what you’ve learnt and how that part of your education can benefit your employer.
  6. Immerse yourself in your CV: Sounds obvious, but explaining your CV can be similar to explaining how you walk. It’s something we do naturally but being asked to explain it is a different kettle of fish altogether. It’s essential to practice talking through your career, achievements and successes to date. You’d be surprised at how many people stumble on the ‘talk me through your current role/career’ question. This is because you subconsciously carry out your day-to-day role without a second thought – being asked to explain it can throw up all sorts of problems. Being able to talk flawlessly through your key areas of expertise is moving you closer and closer to pole position.
  7. Small things do count: Right or wrong but, those first few minutes in an interview can influence the outcome. So, makes sense to be on time, bring a couple of fresh copies of your CV or email them beforehand, get your attire in order, be very nice to the receptionist, think of a few questions, be totally tuned into the nature of the job and company, and show a genuine interest and passion for what they do.
    Answer the most common questions: Tell me about yourself is probably the most common question. Don’t answer ‘what do you want to know?’, instead, memorise a brief synopsis of your education, expertise, and maybe a few outside interests. Get your skills, competencies and career history down and relate it specifically to the job. Focus on the needs of the employer, show you understand them and have the specific skills to handle it.
  8. Focus on what you have to offer: The price for ignoring this is way too high to overlook. No matter how much experience you have, employers want to hire people that are willing, honest, and who’ll continue to learn and grow within their company. Never underestimate your personal qualities and, as you answer job-related questions, don’t just focus on your experience, show how your efforts served the needs of your previous employer and the aims of the company.
  9. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE: No point reading the above if you have not done this. The quality of your research can significantly swing the outcome of an interview. Information is everything, and these days, it’s everywhere. Interviewers will notice if you’ve made an effort to find out about them and will be impressed if you’ve looked into what the company does, where it stands in their field and any further information, such as news stories or achievements, that can’t be gleaned from the website. Employers consider your research as a reflection of your interest, intelligence, and enthusiasm. Don’t mess this one up!
  10. When you’re hot, you’re hot! If someone chases you soon after you’ve left the building – they’re sold on you. If it is what you want, engage quickly because it’s where you have a lot of leverage and the cards are in your favour. A lack of response can raise doubt and can quite easily move someone else up the queue. If it isn’t for you, politely and respectfully turn it down – it’s a small world and paths can cross again.