You hear all sorts of rules about job interview success:
* people decide about you in the first 10 seconds
* you have to make a good first impression
* always ask insightful job interview questions
* learn as much as you can about the company
* they'll probably ask interview questions designed to trip you up
* have some quick answers to interview questions at the ready
Not bad, as far as rules go: some of them make perfect sense. But getting the job you want isn't about following rules or giving the ‘right’ interview answer.
It's about presenting yourself in the most authentic way that takes care of you and the interviewers at the same time.
So many people chuck their chances away: they don't take enough care and interview preparation time so that the whole process is enjoyable, stimulating and informative for both parties.
Your First Opportunity: Getting The Interview
If you want the job, chances are so do about a million other eager people, so your application has to stand out from the crowd. British CVs are usually dull and boring, and people create them as historical documents, rather than as marketing tools. You can boost your chances of getting an interview by making your CV look and ‘sound’ special.
Use good paper, design a personal logo, fiddle with the layout to make it easy on the eyes. Edit it ruthlessly. People always put in too much detail. Highlight the bits that relate to the job you're going for. They don't need to know you went to St Mary's School when you were 12! Put ‘who you are now’ at the beginning of your CV, and leave education and qualifications for the end.
If you don't have what you think are the right educational qualifications, don't worry. Just leave them off. If you include enough interesting and intriguing material about who you are now, what you didn't do is far less important.
I recommend a short paragraph at the beginning that says something about your personal qualities and your business skills. A short statement about what you're seeking can also go down a treat.
As we know, a job for life is so rare nowadays, that eclectic, unusual and even inconsistent CVs are OK as long as they're presented well.
Even if you think your current job stinks, look at the good points as though you were looking at it from the outside in. Most jobs appear much better from the outside than they do from the inside (only you know the real truth); so pump up the goodies and soft-pedal the baddies!
So that worked. You've got the Interview; now what?
Preparing For a Job Interview
Here's the key and the most important thing to remember when preparing for interview
Before you go through the door, tell yourself that unless they are simply going through the motions because they've already appointed someone, they want it to be you.
They want to know their search is over, so for the length of the interview, the job is yours. You need to make the most of it.
Having said that, first impressions are incredibly important. Be yourself right from the start, turning up the volume on those bits of you that most match the job; turning down the volume on the bits that don't. However, never ever shut the volume off entirely, as you will then be pretending to be someone you're not - a sure recipe for disaster.
Not a good idea to lie! You can be judicious with the truth, but lies have a tendency to return and bite you in the bum! Even if they don't know you've lied, you will be giving out signals that are a give-away that something is wrong.
Being put on the spot can feel very uncomfortable, and it's easy to fall into a defensive posture. If you're not sure of answering interview questions or feel boxed into a corner it's all right to buy time - including saying ‘I need some time to think about that. '
No matter how nervous you are, you do need to look after the people interviewing you. Show that you know how to communicate and relate to people: ask surprising questions.
Have a stockpile of question to ask at interview and anecdotes of past triumphs (and even a few disasters, as long as their funny or humorous side is apparent). This is not just a list of what you can do, but some personal examples that paint the whole picture.
There are no right answers to job interview questioning. In fact a good interview question is one that allows you a chance to talk about yourself.
Job Interview Follow-up
At the end of your interview, if you haven't been advised, ask when they think they'll be making their decision. At least then you'll know how long you’ll have to wait before you hear.
Many places don't automatically let people know if they haven't got the job; so one follow-up call is allowable. More than that and it can feel like badgering.
No matter how badly you think the interview went, if you want the job, always send a follow-up interview thank you letter. Since most of us think of clever things to say after the fact, include one or two of those, referring to something specific from the interview.
Use phrases such as:
'I've given a lot of thought to our interview and. . . '
‘Something you mentioned got me thinking. . . '
‘What you said about _ really struck home. . . '
If you don't get the job and you're curious why not, phone up and get some feedback. It may help you for the next interview.
Happy job hunting!
Jo Ellen and Robin run Impact Factory a training company who provide Interview Skills, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Communications Training, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching for Individuals.