Marzenna Almendro, registered Psychometrist and Certified Coach from Holistan in Bedfordview, shares tips to ensure you make the best impression possible during your job interview.
It is important to remember that each recruiter, or organisation, will determine their own selection process, criteria and panel. If your CV is selected, you will go through the first screening interview. The number of interviews you will be subject to varies in terms of roles, but generally speaking the more senior the roles, the more interviews you will need to go through, and you may be subject to as many as five.
Step 1: prepare
- As soon as you have received notification that you are invited for an interview, review the company website to understand what they do, their unique selling point (USP), niche in the market and who they sell to.
- While you are investigating their online presence, think about anything you would change as this does come up in interviews at times.
- Find your interviewer (and people you ‘meet’ while setting up the interview) on LinkedIn and get a feel for their personae.
- Follow the company on LinkedIn and possibly Facebook. Look at the company profile (which is sometimes more concrete than what is available on their website), as well as people who have worked there, their mission statement, values, etc.
- Google the company and try to see if you have access to any official information regarding the organisation’s turnover, when they registered as a business, if they are listed, etc.
- Keep in mind that when researching the business on social media platforms, your own profile needs to be spick and span. As much as you research them, they will research you. Ensure you LinkedIn is updated, and lockdown your Facebook account to airtight security.
Step 2: take heed of interview dos and don’ts!
- Demonstrate confidence. Even if you are not feeling it, do not say ‘Gosh I am so nervous!’ Act confident. It may be cliché, but you need to fake it till you make it.
- Be warm and friendly to everyone you meet – from the person who serves tea to the person who is interviewing you.
- If you are in a panel interview, engage with all parties, make eye contact and do not focus on only one person.
- Remember your interviewer’s name, and address them as such. If they have a complicated pronunciation, ask them at the start of the meeting how to pronounce their name, and then (if you can) write it down phonetically.
- If it is winter, take off your jacket, hat, and gloves. Deliver a firm handshake. Ladies should put their handbag on the floor.
- If offered something to drink – accept! Having water that is reachable is beneficial if your mouth goes dry, or heaven forbid, you get a tickle in your throat.
- Ask questions such as:
- How did the position come about?
- Do you promote internally?
- Do you encourage continuous professional development?
- What would the first three months’ targets look like?
- What challenges is the team/department currently facing? (You could even link this to a problem you have solved in the past).
- What is your management style? (Directed at the interviewer if they would be your potential manager).
8. Be prepared for situational questions and have your answers prepared ahead of time. These may include:
- Tell me about when you…
- Give me an example of…
- How did you deal with…
- With these questions (and generally in almost all facets of work), employing a story-telling technique will create a compelling narrative that will captivate your audience. Do not just mention the outcome; set the scene, what happened, what you did, what the outcome was, what you would change and what you have learned. But do not draw the story out longer than it needs to be.
- Bring up anything political, economic, or religious unless it is causally related to your potential job role.
- Ask about salary. However, if it is brought up, ensure you have done your research and have a figure in mind (that is market-related). My personal tip is to aim for a little higher, and then express that you are negotiable.
3. The ‘tell me about yourself’ question is not about you, it is about your experience, skill set, and achievements. Once you have elaborated on this, you can add in a little bit about yourself. However, remember you are selling them ‘you’ and what you can do for their organisation.
Step 3: Use psychology
I did a count just the other day, and in the last six years, I have analysed about 4000 candidates during simulations. In these role plays, we thrust the candidate into a situation, and I analyse how they deal with the problems presented to them. I analyse not only the way in which their brain processes information, but their body language too. With my experience as a behavioural analyst, consider my insights around using Psychology during the interview:
- Maintain eye contact. Of course, this is for largely Western countries, so if you are unsure, do some research with regards to this.
- This is a tricky one because in an interview you are generally the one to talk a lot, but try to get your interviewer to talk too. Make conversation, build rapport, and ask questions. An example is ‘What has your journey been like in the business?’ People generally like talking about themselves, and this is the perfect opportunity to align yourself to something you may have in common with the interviewer.
- Mirror body language. If your interviewer smiles, smile back. If they are talking, nod, agree and add your two cents worth.
- The unfortunate and unfair truth is this: attractive people get more responses in interviews. Women should make sure they are dressed immaculately and have done a fair job on their make up that morning. Men should make sure they are clean-shaven. If you have a beard, make sure it is trimmed. Ensure your hair is clean and you look good.
- As a departure point from the above, if you look attractive, you will feel more confident, and this will come across during the encounter.
- Smile when appropriate and not the entire time.
- If English is not your native language, brush up on your language skills. Research has demonstrated that if there is someone who has a strong voice, projects their voice appropriately, uses strong language, and is highly articulate, their chance of getting the position is 80% higher compared to the candidate who lacks the above skills. Fact.
- Candidates are recruited if they are liked, so be likeable.
Step 4: prepare for the (likely) possibility of an online interview
Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams interviews are extremely popular at the moment, and will probably continue to be going into the future.
- Check your network connection. It may not be a bad idea to invest in a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) in case you experience load shedding. Ensure your camera and microphone are working correctly by doing a test run ahead of the interview.
- Make sure you have good lighting. Sit in a room (near a window) that has loads of light. If you can, invest in a ring light.
- Ensure your background is clean, clear and plain. The lighter the colour, the better. If you have ever been to a psychologist for therapy, you will notice there is never a picture or anything distracting positioned behind the therapist. The focus should all be on that one person, and in this case, it is you.
- Make sure you are not sitting virtually on top of your computer – there should be an arms-length distance between your keyboard and hands. Otherwise, the entire screen will be taken up by your face to the interviewer, which is not very glamorous.
- Close all other applications on your PC.
- Stick sticky-notes around your screen to help prompt you, so that you remember everything you would like to say to showcase your skills and achievements.
- Have a glass of water, pen and paper handy, and your interviewer’s telephone number should you lose connection.
- Know where your mute button is just in case you need to use it. There is nothing quite like your dog getting vocal after they have spotted a cat in your backyard.
- Show up early by logging on a few minutes before the time. Do not be the last to join the meeting.
- Do not use your hands and arms too much. If there is a delay in connection, your screen may freeze with you looking a bit odd if you are all over the place – not pretty.
- Sit up straight, do not lean back or swing in your chair.
- Pause. Do not rush in to be too eager to speak. If there are lags in connection, you may end up speaking over your interviewer.
- Thank the interviewer/s for their time.
Step 5: post-interview:
- Make sure that when you leave, your interviewer has a clear understanding of whether or not you are interested in the role.
- Follow up with your interview with an email within 24 hours of the interview, and solidify your interest in the email. Thank the interviewer for their time, and mention something from the interview that possibly connects you, or ensures that you are remembered.
- If the interview was arranged through a Recruitment Agency, always call your agency straight away to debrief.