ACING ANY JOB INTERVIEW
When did you last get interviewed for a new job? If it was in the last century, or even a few years back, you may feel tremulous at the prospect of being grilled by a potential employer. Antoinette Dale Henderson, confidence and assertiveness coach, shares her interview-acing tips.
“Feeling confident when you walk into a job interview is not just a matter of how you psyche yourself up on the day. The process begins way before you get offered an interview”. Make sure you provide evidence that you might be appropriate for the position, says Antoinette. “Whatever you want to world to know about you, it needs to be represented effectively everywhere that employers might look”. Here’s how to ensure your CV on the interview pile – and that you’re in with a serious chance of getting the job.
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Brush Up Your CV
If you haven’t written a CV or updated yours in years then make sure what’s on it is up to date. “And that’s as much about what you edit out as what you add in. Don’t list all your O levels/GCSEs and every job you’ve ever had since year dot. Just include the most significant roles you’ve had more recently and talk about the elements that are relevant to the role you’re going for”.
Be Really Specific
“If you were managing teams, how many were in those teams? If you were responsible for a budget, how much was it or what’s the present-day equivalent? If you were selling products what was your sales performance? The more specific evidence you can provide for people to rate you, the more tangible the information they’ve got to work with.”
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
“People are often embarrassed about their LinkedIn profile, because they don’t bother maintaining it, but it’s the first place recruiters go to find out about you. So keep your profile up to date, trim out extraneous detail and ask people to provide testimonials listing relevant expertise. Include a good recent profile photo that’s appropriate to your profession, not one of you at a party or half-way up a mountain”.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Adopt The Right Mindset
This is the bit a lot of us find tricky – how to talk yourself up and overcome feeling self-conscious about your age or your CV in a competitive situation. You may have had a stellar career in your past, but feel unsure about how to present yourself now. “Start with your mindset. Do some affirmations, telling yourself ‘I have a right to be in this interview. I have valuable skills to share. I’m completely prepared for this conversation. I’m just as curious about what they have to offer me as they are about what I have to offer them’. In this way you take away that sense of being ‘picked’ or not, by reminding yourself that it’s just as important that it’s right for you. But also remind yourself that they wanted to meet you and take confidence from that knowledge.”
Dress appropriately for the company you’re applying to. “If it’s a start-up founded by a 30 year old who’s looking for someone with expertise in your area, think about what would constitute appropriate dress for that kind of firm, and dress slightly more smartly. Don’t forget that people make their minds up about you in a nano-second and most of it is unconscious. So do yourself a favour and provide visual cues that reflect the value you bring”.
How you walk into the room, shake their hand and make eye contact will all have an impact on your interviewer. “Your presence and demeanour need to convey ‘I’m relaxed, comfortable being here and looking forward to this opportunity,’ so there’s that equal thing going on. When it comes to voice, make sure you’re speaking in a measured way, not going into too much detail, being succinct. Having said that, there will be times when detail will be required. If they ask about your experience of managing people, for example, give them examples of the kind of teams you managed, what you worked on together and the results you delivered as a team. Give some colour”.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Convey Your Competence
Think about the balance between what you say and what you ask, so you show you’re really switched on. “Weave into any answers little hints that you’ve done your research and taken the time to understand what the company is all about. So beforehand do a Google search and read up on the company, what it says on their website, their vision and mission statement, their values, and look at any recent reports they’ve published or news stories about them. Having this information will help you make references to the reasons you’re attracted to the company and role and to demonstrate the qualities they will be looking for. This will really make you stand out from the crowd”.
Show Not Tell
“Instead of stating that you’re (for example) detail-focused and a stickler for quality control, demonstrate it in your answers. eg ‘I was particularly interested in the section of the website where you talk about your commitment to ensuring your customers get the best quality service and the awards you’ve received for this”. In this way you show you’ve done your homework while demonstrating that detail is high on your list of priorities, without hammering it home.
“Some people feel comfortable using buzzwords, acronyms and jargon-type words. But my advice is to keep it as simple as possible. Take confidence in the fact that you’re communicating clearly and use words that have flare, that sparkle and are a bit arresting. If you say ‘Feedback is golden”, rather than “Feedback is important’, it’s more memorable. Use words that are a bit different and show you’ve got some energy about you”.
Leave On A High Note
If you want the job, leave your interviewer in no doubt. “Be authentic and enthusiastic about the interview and job. Say ‘I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better, thank you for spending the time sharing the work that you do. I’m really impressed with what I’ve heard and would be genuinely delighted to hear back from you’. That conveys how passionate and excited you are and leaves the interviewer with a positive lasting impression”.
Antoinette Dale Henderson is a coach, speaker, expert in gravitas and the author of Leading With Gravitas. Her programmes and masterclasses provide practical techniques on communicating with confidence and fulfilling your potential. www.gravitasprogramme.com.