Face to Face - Interview Skills
Everyone has had the unnerving "Interview" - facing off across a table with people who can make or break your hiring experience.
Whether you are a new graduate, a top executive, returning to the workforce or are taking an abrupt change in career direction, the Interview is as much a certainty as life itself!
Daunting? The process need not be with a small amount of planning. As recruiters, we see people every day, and as predictable as it sounds, the best skills in the world pale if someone is unable to sell herself.
Read on for some of the top strategies to make a lasting mark in Interviews.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
There is nothing that screams "hire me" more than taking an interest in your prospective organisation. Research the company and culture; know exactly why you want to be a part of this group.
Try to find out the form the interview will take - will it be focussed on your experience and history? An informative style? Be targeted towards hypothetical situations or involve directly testing your skills? Or is it a panel or group situation?
Know yourself - think about how exactly you match the role and why exactly they have to hire you. Be specific and honest.
Avoid the curve balls- think through those "worst case scenario" questions as well as being geared for the stock in trade, easy ones.
Literally practicing possible scenarios can make it easier when you are put on the spot on the day.
The more prepared you are, the more comfortable and confident you are likely to come across.
MAKE AN IMPRESSION
As much of a cliche as it sounds, those first few seconds can form a memorable impression, and not necessarily a favourable one!
Think about how you dress. While there are less "absolutes" now in interview attire, you should be aware of what dress codes are like in your target employer. Err on the conservative and formal side; make sure you are comfortable and pay attention to detail.
Arriving radically early can be almost as annoying as being late - a few minutes prior to the scheduled time is usually safest.
Set the tone for the interview right from the start. Greet people by name; offer a firm handshake and eye contact. Don't forget anyone you encounter can make a difference - flashing all your attention at the interviewer, but being off-hand with the Receptionist can be deadly.
Find your "Zen" place! There is no easy answer to being calm and in control in an interview situation, but it is definitely important to sit comfortably, be natural and smile. Remember that employers are not in the habit of wasting valuable time - you would not have got this far without the strengths and experience to be a contender for the role.
Making a connection with the interviewer is paramount, just make sure you don' t come across as ignoring the formal component of the meeting by being too casual.
THE INTERVIEW ENTIRELY SURVIVABLE
Be flexible. Adapt to the style of the interviewer and reflect their wording if appropriate.
Be prepared, but be equally ready to cope with unexpected approaches.
Sharpen your professional edge by avoiding slang and clumsy speech - a thoughtful silence is often less off-putting than a string of "umms". Try to be concise.
Do not be afraid to ask for clarification if required - it is better to ask than head off on the wrong tangent.
Listen, rather than having an agenda - there is no better way of conveying interest.
There are not always right or wrong answers to questions. Back up your answers with real life examples. Nothing is a better sales tool than your past successes - use them to justify your point of view.
Be positive! Use assertive and affirmative language. Never fall into the trap of being overtly negative about an ex-employer - it never looks good.
Enthusiasm sells - both in the content of your answers and in the delivery tone.
Your opportunity to ask questions - do make it count! Nothing is more disappointing to an interviewer than questions that are poorly thought out and could have easily been researched before. This is a real chance to close the interview and reinforce your interest in the job.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Follow up - a letter or call following the meeting thanking interviewers for their time is entirely appropriate.
As trite as it might sound, treat it as a learning experience - it genuinely is the best way to hone in your skills for future interviews.