How to succeed at face to face job interviews
It can be quite tricky to navigate the difference between a phone interview and one that takes place directly across the desk from your potential employer.
In some cases, this may be the first time you are being introduced to the hiring manager; in other cases, you may have initially had your phone interview with a recruitment specialist. Either way, the principles are the same when it comes to communication and preparation (see our blog: How to Nail a Phone Interview), we just need to add a little extra to the mix this time around… Presentation.
I have had my fair share of candidates turn up for an interview (and others who didn’t show up at all), who have not taken the time to prepare themselves at all. I remember many years ago, a young and hopeful candidate relied on luck to get him through interviews and his approach was “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. This same candidate turned up to his interview late, was not prepared and struggled to articulate why he was the right person for the job based on his skills and experience. This candidate was an 18-year-old me.
Funnily enough, I still managed to successfully obtain employment with this company. I put it down to the swanky new business attire that I had purchased. It wasn’t until I was going for my next career move, 4 years later, that I realised how poorly my interview really went when I was 18. My next career move was one that was still within the same field but taking on many more responsibilities. Because this was a role that I really wanted, I ended up researching blogs and interview tips like the ones I am sharing at the moment to help me overcome any fears so that I could present who I was and why I was the man for the job. It all came down to a few simple steps. Think of it like a first date.
1. Dress to impress.
Putting on your best business attire changes your attitude, the same as putting on your PJs at the end of the day.
2. Arrive 10 minutes early.
Your potential new employer’s calendar for the day will not just consist of a meeting with you. Arriving early lets them know you are prepared and ready to go at the allocated time.
3. Make eye contact with everyone involved in the interview, as well as anyone you meet on the way.
Shake hands and make sure to look them in the eye and smile. And don’t forget about the seemingly ‘unimportant’ people you may meet along the way, such as the receptionist. I have known more than one person to miss out on the job because they only turned the charm on for the interview panel! A rude introduction to the receptionist could cost you the job before your interview has even begun.
4. Break the ice.
Ask how their day is going or try commenting on the building layout or how the office is set up. Breaking the ice will allow you to break down your nerves by building rapport from the very beginning.
5. Listen, listen, listen.
Take your time to digest each question as it is being asked and refrain from answering until the question is finished. We all have a friend who talks over others when we wish they wouldn’t! It’s expected you will take your time to formulate an answer so if you need a moment just explain ‘that is a great question, let me think of an example for you”
6. Be prepared with questions.
You would normally be asked if you have any questions towards the end of the interview. This is the time to show them that you have done your research. Ask them about their strategy or what a typical day looks like in the role. Don’t ask questions about what you can get from them, this is a partnership and those perks will be there. Instead, try ask questions that will help you determine how to do your job more effectively. This will tell them you are forward-thinking and strategic in your approach.
7. Honestly rules.
If I had a dollar for every person who had oversold their skills, only to fall short once employed, I would be a millionaire. Be honest about your experience, your capability and your knowledge. The interview is not the time to oversell yourself. Remember, you will be found out if you get the job!
To conclude the interview, thank each member for their time. Now the waiting game begins to see if you have the skills, experience, personality and drive to take you down this new and exciting adventure.
Take a moment after you have left the interview to let it all sink in. How did I answer the questions? Did I do enough research on the company? Was I able to articulate enough the reasons why I am the right person for the job? Self-reflection is key, and in most cases, you will be provided feedback on how they thought the interview went. By comparing your thoughts of the interview to how they felt it went will give you invaluable information on what you did well and what you can improve for next time if need be.