What to do during job interview

The mere thought of going to a job interview turns many otherwise mature people into frightened babies. I have no official statistics, but I’m certain that large swathes of the workforce cling to their hated jobs because selling themselves to a stranger across a table is just too terrifying to contemplate. Yet being good at job interviews is one of the most important skills that anyone can acquire. You may be the best person with the most experience for the job, but if you bomb in the first interview, you can wave that nice salary package good-bye.

There are a myriad of books out there on good interviewing techniques. Some are excellent, but most are dry and cover the same ground that your career counsellor did in high school. I’ll skip over the “make sure your shirt is ironed and your shoes are clean” parts and go straight to the meat. Here are my top tips for interviewing success.

Interviewing is selling
This point seems obvious, but it’s worth clarifying. People like to pretend that job interviews are some kind of sacred ritual; but when you get down to it, you’re selling something. That something is yourself. The thought of selling makes many people think of sleazy car salesman or life insurance fast talkers. Sales techniques do include the hard-close, but can also include the professional explanation. You should opt for the latter. Get yourself some books on sales techniques and study up. Selling is central to any business including You Inc. If you neglect polishing your skills in this area, you are going to be far less successful than you could be.

Get some practice
The more interviews you go to, the easier they get. The trial-by-fire perception that lurks within your subconscious will quickly disappear once you’ve attended a few. People who change jobs every year or so quickly learn the types of questions they’ll be asked. They also learn what works and what doesn’t. Even if you’re not actively seeking work, it may be worthwhile to go to some interviews just to keep in practice. Nobody’s going to force you to take a job that you don’t want.

Don’t lie
If the interviewer asks about something that you don’t know or haven’t got any experience of - say so. Pretending you’re something you’re not is easy on paper. Face-to-face it’s much more difficult. If the interviewer isn’t an expert on the field you will be working in, they’ll most likely bring along someone who is. If you lie about your skills or experience, you will almost certainly get caught. People hate being lied to and they’re unlikely to employ someone who they see as less than honest. The best approach is to say: “I’m sorry, but I haven’t done that before. I’m keen to learn though.”

Arrive fifteen minutes early
Let the receptionist know you’ve arrived, then sit down and read the newspaper. This will give you a chance to cool down from the heavy traffic or public transport problems you endured to get there. Rushing in at the last minute is going to make you stressed when you should be relaxed.

If you’ve never physically seen the building where the interview is taking place, arrive half an hour early and check where it is. This means you won’t be rushing around looking for it five minutes before you’re due to arrive. Don’t actually enter the building until fifteen minutes before though.

Smile and be friendly
Treat the interviewers with respect, but make it friendly respect. Smiling and making a joke can often break the tension. Your interviewers want to know that you’ll be easy to work with.

If you need technical knowledge, read up in the days before
It’s impossible to know everything about technical areas, but going over the basics before walking in to an interview can pay off handsomely. Look for areas where you don’t know as much as you should, or skills that are needed but that you haven’t used for a while. If you read up on them the night before, the facts will be fresh in your mind when you walk in.

Don’t lose your cool
Any professional with a few years experience has been to a horror interview. Whether you’re faced with who’s got something to prove, or a manager who likes belittling others, losing your cool is unprofessional. Smile, nod, answer politely and walk out glad that you’ll never have to work in that hell-hole.

Don’t take rejection personally
If they decide not to hire you, it’s no big deal. Other dream jobs will come along. Tell yourself that it’s their loss. Two or three unsuccessful interviews in a row can become disheartening. Feel bad about it for a day or so, then dust yourself off and go out to face another prospective employer. Persistence pays and it’s only a matter of time before someone will hire you.


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