Skimming through my Twitter feed, I spotted a post entitled ‘How to act in an interview’ which sounded helpful enough but something jarred with me – aha – it was the word ‘act’. As a career girl of some years (!) I have sucked up quite a few interview hours myself and thought I ought to do you the favour of passing this on, because (sorry to boast) I have a fairly good hit rate!
So, pens at the ready?
1. DO NOT ACT.
Unless you are going for a drama audition and for tips on that you need to research elsewhere.. try Mark Summers Casting But assuming you are going for a corporate position, say in an agency, corporate business, finance sector, retail etc, it is not about playing a part, it is about being yourself. This is so important and I will explain why. Most jobs, in whatever sector you are interested in, are time-consuming, energy absorbing, exacting, demanding and occasionally enjoyable. Most people usually spend more time with their work colleagues than they do with their families. Read that last sentence again! So, if you have acted yourself into a financial role, demonstrating your aptitude for figures and your love of spreadsheets in order to get a job and that isn’t really you ~ you are going to hate your job and probably struggle at it. OR, if you have borrowed your fashionista friend’s Vivienne Westwood shirt to wow the interviewers at an up-and-coming retail chain, when your usual style is more quiet and laid back, again, it will jar with your personality, eventually draining you. Be true yourself, and truthful to your interviewers: it’s a win/win (Bit of management speak there, who spotted it?)
2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Research research research. Find out as much about the company as you can before you step foot into the premises. Even if you are interviewed in a pub (yes, I was for a publishing job and I’ve never worked so hard for a glass of wine!), you need to demonstrate that you understand the company, what they stand for (mission statement) what they believe (Values) and how they intend to achieve their business goals (Vision Statement). Smaller, boutique companies don;t always have that information on their website, but you can still get a feel for the company from the website itself, their Twitter feed, go into their stores and ask staff about the company (a bit of secret shopping is always fun). You may find in doing the research that the companies values are different to your own. For example if you are a vegan, or passionate about small furry animals, you may wish to look into a company that does animal testing. Find out, inform yourself, it will give you confidence and help the real you to shine through.
3. ASK QUESTIONS
Like any healthy and dynamic conversation, the interview process should be a two-way (or however many people are interviewing you) street. It shows intelligence and initiative to ask a question or two yourself, either about the role or the company or anything else related to your fulfilling the position. This shows you are really listening and thinking, two excellent skills in a potential employee!
4. THE COMPETITIVE EDGE
The job market is competitive, but let’s not lose sight of the fact there has always been competition for the jammiest jobs. The ones with perks like foreign travel, interviewing celebrities, free tickets and passes to gigs, shows, discounted clothes..you get the idea. Suffice to say, if a position is interesting, exciting, challenging with good perks, you will be slugging it out with the job market’s finest. A lot of employers now ask for a presentation of some description to test skills, confidence, application of knowledge, creativity, problem solving, the works. This is where you can let your personality shine, and if you put energy and time into this, this preparation will come across as professionalism and confidence on interview day.
These are just some of my edited highlights, of course there is a lot more to consider including getting to the interview in plenty of time, knowing how to calm yourself when your heart is hammering in your chest, but I wanted to keep it simple and so should you.
Here’s my executive interview summary: ‘Prepare to be your best self.’
Best of luck 🙂
© Suzy Rigg