Winning the job at the interview

Having obtained an interview, you need to prepare for it. Not just turn up and hope. You only have one shot at “First Impression”. Make it a good one!

4. Research

You should have carried out some research on the target company to support your original application. If not, do so now. Are they local, national or international? Where is head office? How long have they been in operation? What do they do?

So at the interview you can demonstrate some knowledge of the company which underlines your interest in working with them

5. Personal Presentation

The first impression is critical. When you arrive for the interview, you need to be dressed appropriately and both you and your clothes are clean and sparkling.

The day before the interview, sort out what you are going to wear and ensure it is ready. No point in finding out at 8.00 o`clock that the clothes you need for a 9.00 o`clock interview need washing or ironing.

For a professional position, males, suits and ties, females, suit or smart top and skirt or tailored slacks. It may sound sexist, but a smart tailored skirt will beat slacks most of the time for the girls

For warehouse, production, driving and etc. positions, smart casual clothing.

There are some exceptions such as advertising agencies or musicians agencies where street cred counts, but that is not the rule

Absolute no no`s, bare midriffs, tattered jeans, scruffy runners, dirty clothes, dirty nails. These could be seen as a lack of respect to the interviewer and a lack of judgment on your part.

Do not have a heavy night before the interview, save the celebrations until you have the job.

Be aware of your body language. Do not fiddle with things in your pockets or on the desk. You want to give an air of assurance without being arrogant.

Notice the actions of the interviewer, their pose, breathing patterns and facial expressions. Mirror those.

Keep good steady eye contact without staring, no Mark Latham or Julie Bishop moments.

Do not be afraid to smile

When shaking hands, firm (not squeezy) palm to palm handshake and good eye contact. This is for both males and females; the limp fish handshake is a turnoff whoever does it. Two to three shakes is ample.

6. The Interview

Be on time. Allow for arriving before time, you can always stay in your car in the car park or go for a coffee close by if you are early. If the weather is hot, this will give you a chance to cool down. You do not want to front up hot and sweaty.

Present to reception 5 to 10 minutes prior to the appointment time. Nothing infuriates interviewers as much as people turning up late, particularly if they have a tight schedule. It implies disrespect. While waiting, there may be a company magazine or newsletter in reception, allowing you to extend your knowledge of the organisation.

If you are late due to unforeseen circumstances, acknowledge the fact and apologise. Do not just pretend it did not happen because the interviewer will be very aware that you are late.

Be prepared that you may face a panel of people, not just one. Do not be nervous (if you can help it), the interviewers are often nervous as well so, if you are at ease, they will appreciate it and you will impress.

Shake hands when introduced to the interviewer(s). Sit when asked to, not before, and remember body language (see above).

When facing a group, concentrate on the one asking the question but answer it to all of them.

Stick to the truth, if you embellish, you will probably get caught. It is always easier to remember what you have said if it is the truth.

When asked why you left previous positions, do not be negative. If there was a personality clash, then say so but do not blame the other person. It is preferable that this is not the reason you left all previous positions.

Be prepared for questions about why you left or what were the downsides of previous roles, it is one of the most common areas of questioning. Once again be positive.

You may get asked hypothetical questions about the proposed role, like “What would you do if……..”? Think these possibilities through prior to the interview but do not answer to quickly, better that it looks as though you have thought on your feet and come up with a solution.

Another popular line of questioning is “What do you see as your greatest weakness?”. Preferably have a weakness that is a positive. For example “I can be quite short with people not pulling their weight”, “I get annoyed with myself when what I do does not work out as well as intended”.

Have a list of questions (in your head) Things like “are there promotional opportunities from this position?”, “is this a new role?”, “Is there further training available”.

Do not focus on the salary package. That will come up when they are ready to do so (usually when they are thinking you are the person for the job). You do not want them thinking you are only there for the money.

At the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration. Be polite and positive. If you have not been notified of the outcome of the interview, there is no harm in asking when you might hear the result

Clive Cooke ©

Article by Clive Cooke from Escape Consulting Pty Ltd

About the Author

Clive Cooke – Managing Director, Escape Consulting Pty Ltd

Our Managing Director, Clive Cooke, has over thirty years experience in the human resources field. He has held senior management positions in national and international organisations and has worked.

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