So, congratulations – you’ve made it to interview stage. Your application form and C.V. have already done a sterling job. However, it’s a buyer’s market. Don’t be the bruised apple hidden in the bargain bin, be the huge, ripe, eye-catching tomato in the front row.
Finding work is particularly tough in the current climate. More and more candidates are battling for the same job. Here are a few tips which could help improve your chances.
Put yourself in the shoes of your potential employer. Who would you want to take on?
1.Someone punctual, reliable and looking the part.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be late but arrive with time to sit, relax and compose yourself. Turn up looking harassed and edgy and you’ll be marked down before you even start.
Covered in a recent blog (‘Dress to Impress’), I cannot emphasise enough how big an opportunity this is to mark yourself out from the crowd. You should look scrupulously clean and well groomed. Your choice of clothes should look neat, tidy and well put together. Everything about your appearance will speak volumes during your interview. Imagine you have a great skill base and excellent references but you are one of TWO final candidates to be chosen from. If the other candidate is evenly matched with you then things like your appearance could be the clincher. You don’t have to be a supermodel, just someone who can make ‘smart/chic’ look effortless. (ANYONE can with a little effort)
2.Someone who looks like they mean it.
Body Language is such a powerful tool. Some hiring managers claim they can spot a possible candidate for a job within 30 seconds or less, and while a lot of that has to do with the way you look, it’s also in your body language. Your interviewer/s will be processing things from your posture to your level of eye contact without them even realising it at the time.
Sit up straight and slightly forward. It says you’re taking this seriously and you are seriously interested in the job. Be aware of moving your feet up and down repeatedly in a nervous manner – it’s a sign of boredom, even if you don’t mean it to be.
Smile. It’s an ice-breaker. It’s a way of showing warmth and friendliness. However serious the role, everyone wants to see the human-being they are going to employ.
Be yourself – no point pretending to be someone you aren’t. However what you SHOULD do is have a sure idea of your skills and strengths and practise articulating them.
If you have more than one person interviewing you at once, make sure you briefly address all the people with your gaze and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.
Your physical gestures should be open and expressive. You want to try to involve the interviewer in what you are saying – remember it is a conversation, not a monologue. Keep palms up and open to suggest honesty, and avoid pointing or banging fists on the table to emphasise a point.
3.Someone who sounds like they mean it.
The content of the responses is extremely important but the tone and pace of voice is just as important. Your tone of voice sets the atmosphere during an interview. It projects your inner confidence, your authority and the ability to cope.
If you are nervous, often the pitch of your voice can rise. Take deep breaths when you are not speaking, in through your nose and out through the mouth. This will help calm your nerves and keep your voice grounded.
Be aware of your voice – is it matching your message? If you are excited, allow this emotion through your voice, otherwise people will not believe your words.
Remember to speak up, don’t mumble and if you stumble over your words, slow down. Use pauses as they are much more powerful than filling the silences with erms!!
4.Someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Do your research. CEO’s often tell me that interviewee’s do not know enough about the company they are applying to..Find out as much as you can about the company such as relevant facts and figures. You can then use that information to explain how you can be an asset in your potential role. Not only will it impress, you will feel much more confident about answering questions. At the end of the interview you are likely to get asked the question “do you have any questions for me?” – always have at least one and this is where researching the organisation prior to the interview comes in handy.
5.Someone who copes well under pressure.
Interviews are stressful. However, with a little practice and the right mind-set you can appear cool and relaxed. Remember, it’s only a job. The people interviewing you are only human too, with their own sets of challenges and real life issues. Use the nerves to your advantage – it can give you that spark and if they are under control it can give your voice more energy giving you more presence.
If you don’t get the job, then you are taking the experience of that particular interview onto the next one. What worked, what didn’t? Nothing is wasted.