My favourite subject – Interviews. I love interviews for two reasons. Firstly, it means that I have a good CV and everything stated on it is meaningful. It has attracted an employer => I must be good. Secondly, I get the chance to know where I stand in the market, what my strengths and weakness are. For example, I got all the jobs that I was interviewed for in 2010-11, except one. That one was for a social cause, I realised I am not cut-out for that, at least not yet.
This blog post will try and make clear the ‘true’ reasons behind the interview process. I am not an HR guru but anyone who argues on these points needs to tell me why. This blog post is basically explaining why I’ve been successful in 8 out of 9 interviews that I have been to (I applied for 10 jobs over the period between July 2009-August 2011 total*).
Why are you being interviewed?
- Either you have applied for the job, or a recruiting agent has forwarded your CV through the agency.
- In the initial CV review you have stood out as a candidate that can do the job, along with few others.
- This means the employer (interviewer or HR) likes your skills and wants to know more about them and you.
- The employer believes you are a prospective candidate and are close to getting the job.
This is the truth of why you are being interviewed. The employer, and especially their HR team don’t have any time to invest in you if they don’t believe you are good enough for their set requirements at that moment.
This in itself should be enough to motivate you and boost your confidence for, and at the interview. You are of the select few. You’ve worked hard to gain that position, whatever hierarchy of management that is at – nobody is doing you a favour, you’ve earned it. Be confident. Be hired.
I get nervous when in an interview…
Being slightly nervous before an interview is normal. But only slightly. If you are sweating or stammering, say sorry and walk out, you are not capable of handling it. It simply means you are not prepared. But you can overcome this –
- Do your research well: that way you gain knowledge about the company/technology/industry sector – this will improve your confidence. Knowledge is the single most important factor to improve your confidence. The point of research is not to know everything about the company – it boosts your confidence too!
What is the interviewer looking for?
The interviewer is looking for clues on two levels – personal and professional:
- The personal refers to whether you are a fine person. Someone who can fit into the culture of the organisation.
- The professional refers to whether you can do the job.
That is pretty much it in a nutshell. The whole outcome of the interview is based around those two points, and in that order. Yes, that’s right, you need to be a fine person for the organisation first, then comes the question of whether you can do the job.
So how EXACTLY do I become successful in an interview?
1. Show you are a nice person -
- Be slightly relaxed, with good body language. Don’t cross your legs or arms. Don’t lay your arms on the table please.
- Use positive language – never say “I don’t know”. Remember, you are a good learner, or a quick learner, and that is a fact, if not, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post to improve.
- Dress up well. They say never judge a book by it’s cover, unfortunately, that rule does not apply to recruitment.
- Try to be yourself, but don’t play “facebook jokes”. Or use any eye-rolling moments. That is just lax.
The whole point is, in the beginning, the interviewer only wants to know about yourself and try to make a judgement of whether you would fit into a job environment. For example, I can be taught how to make drinks, but I would never fit into getting a job at a pub. In the beginning, you can feel stressed, but this is about you. And the interviewers knows it can be tough, hence the chance to speak about yourself.
2. How to show you can do the job
The second part of the interview will be centred around technical/management questions.
- By this time you should have settled in and be slightly more comfortable.
- The best way to show that you can do the job is to give related examples from your previous work – experience/volunteering/academic life.
- Using the words teamwork, communication, responsibility, safety, quick learner, etc. boost hormonal secretion in the interviewer’s brain and these words are held onto (not scientifically proven).
- It’s also good to have a set way of answering these questions. Try and use the STAR technique of answering.
This is the part where you try and get to know about the job and put forward your sales pitch. Yes, do remember this is a sales pitch. Whatever the industry sector, everybody wants value for money. You have to sell yourself as someone who understands the job, can work in a team, take responsibility, and learn new duties quickly.
So what’s the secret to passing an interview?
There is no secret.
It is hardwork. But I don’t like the amount of time graduates and students spend on things like knowing about the company to the core, choosing what to wear, and learning about body-language to sit in an interview. Stop thinking which gum (for bad breath) or perfume you are going to use.
Invest your time in speaking about the company or the job to someone. I spend 30 minutes in the shower talking to myself about what I am going to say about myself and why I need the job. Communication is important. Think about it, in an interview, somebody is giving you a job entirely based on how you speak (about your experience & skills).
There are so many basic do’s and dont’s about interview techniques. The truth is, you won’t learn till you get rejected. Read papers. Read books. Gain more knowledge. Knowledge is confidence. Good luck for your interview.
* 10 jobs in total includes part-time/graduate-jobs/current job (Sept’ 11).