Job Interviews can be fun if you know some basics

You're what?

So you’ve done your preparation (see Job Interview Preparation Tips). You know the company, the role, your strengths and weaknesses; you have a few stories to demonstrate your strengths and you have a few penetrating and insightful questions to ask. Your there, ready to walk in the door. Wait! Did you find out who in fact is interviewing you? Is it just one person or a panel? Is it HR or the hiring manager? Did you know the address, the time of the meeting, how long it will take you to get to the meeting by car/public transport, and do you know what the dress code is at the company – wait that doesn’t matter.  For 98% of interviews you need conservative attire with limited personal accoutrements.  Dark colours are best. Always better to over dress rather than under.  The other 2% are those creative type roles. If you’re going for them, you will already know what to wear.

The most important thing is to relax. Easy to say, hard to do.  I know.  But you have to try. Be confident in the fact that you have done your research and you know your stuff. Importantly you know ‘you’ better than anyone and so this must give you confidence. The key to relaxing is practice prior to the meeting. Best is to practice with someone else, but if you can’t or don’t prefer, then do it alone.  The critical thing is to verbalise your responses.  If you just think the answers it isn’t the same as saying them. In saying them, you create paths in your brain that are stronger than just thinking them through. If you think it doesn’t make a difference, then try it and see/hear the difference.  Try recording yourself.  That is the ultimate test of determining if you think you are good enough.  You could even think about videoing your responses.

Ok, so now you are sitting there across the desk from the interviewer. Let’s assume it is one person and that it is the hiring manager.  Strategy is slightly different for a group/panel interview.

There will be pleasantries for sure. Breaking the ice type stuff. Nothing heavy. Seemingly un-important.  Don’t be fooled! This is critical time. When people meet, they size each other up within the first 8 seconds. Might write an article about this. Look out for it.  Anyway, the reality is that within the first 30 secs you can build some significant rapport bridges or you can do irreparable damage. 

Rapport is the key to having a successful interview. Rapport and trust are the two golden keys.  It has to be natural and easy. Not contrived and forced.  The best way to do this is to find common ground.  This means looking for something you both have in common. Enjoying a laugh is excellent, but not at the expense of someone or in bad taste.  I often find looking for something in the office or the waiting area that you can talk about or connect with the interviewer, will do the trick. These will have connection value for the interviewer, after all these are in ‘their’ office area. The other easy rapport builder is using what I call Universal Truths.

Universal Truths are areas or topics are those that we all agree on, always.  For example, the traffic seems to be getting worse these days or isn’t the weather cold/hot or interviews make people nervous. Hopefully you get the gist.  Use these sparingly at the start to build rapport and you are on your way.

So now you have broken the ice and you are both a little relaxed. This takes anywhere from 30 sec to about 4/5 mins.  Then you get the question you have prepared for: Take me through your CV?  You’ll always get this. Your practice pays off. From here the conversation, I mean the interview, begins.  After all, this is what a good interview looks like. A conversation between two people where they share information and learn about each other.