First and foremost - If you have been invited to attend an interview – THINK POSITIVE – you are now part of the actual selection process, not just in a pile of paper on someone’s desk - you are already a winner, so think like a winner!
1. Say Thank You
Anything you can do to escalate yourself in the selection process has to be worth a shot – so, as soon as you receive an invitation to attend an interview – reply – say a huge thank you to your agent or prospective employer and how delighted and excited you are about the opportunity. Don’t try to change the date or time unless Auntie Margaret’s funeral is on the same damn day! Even if it is, ask yourself this – what can you do for Auntie Margaret now and what would she have wanted for you? If you are in her will, cancel the interview.
Ask your agent / prospective employer for the exact address and postcode for the interview; who your interviewer is; their exact job title and the time of the interview. Go so far as to ask about the nearest stations, parking spaces, buses, etc. Don’t ever assume the interview location – often interviews are held in a different location, especially in a multi-branch organisation with a centralised HR department.
For me this is one is a no-brainer - check the dress code for interview – nothing more embarrassing than turning up in that suit you wore for your best mate John’s shotgun wedding and on arrival find that everyone is in jeans, crop tops and shorts! And for you ladies out there – nothing worse than a pair of heals with the leather pealing up around the heal because you did not have them re-healed a month ago on account of the fact you have been dancing at Stringfellow’s four Saturdays in a row!
Ask if you need to bring anything with you to your interview (your pet tarantula, hardcopy CV, certifications, passport, remand pass, et al) – Try to establish the likely format of the interview, whether there will be any random testing; drugs, alcohol, psychometric or otherwise – generally try and find out anything and everything you can – rather not be surprised! It might just mean laying off the booze for 24 hours before you clock in!
Ask if they will select their candidate on the day? If not, how long? A week, a month or will you have to chase their sorry asses for several weeks to squeeze even the slightest bit of information about a second interview? No harm in asking right? Especially important to ask - how many people you are up against and how long they anticipate it will take to fill the appointment for Internal Post Delivery Associate on the 5th floor?
2. Preparation is key
So, you said “Thank You” - Excellent! Now on to preparation. Believe me, that little “Thank You” left them with this warm fuzzy feeling about you – might even have put your CV at the top of the interviewer’s pile! “What a polite chap/lady, awe, so well prepared and interested! Bless, I’m really looking forward to meeting them” And you? – Now you should be a dynamo behind the scenes – you have a bucket load of information – do your research! Be sure, they will be doing the very same!
Social media – don’t you love it! You can stalk almost anyone after first meeting and what I love about people is that they can’t contain themselves if they have something they are proud of or even a fetish – it will be revealed on their LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram – this will give you an enormous insight into the individual you will be facing across that proverbial table. You may find you both love tarantulas and you will be excited to share this but please don’t mention this unless they say something about tarantulas first! Otherwise, you will immediately be identified as the stalker! Loving the same things is great, but also knowing that you are worlds apart in your outlook beforehand is also great! Remember that the person interviewing you is only one person in the company – not the whole company – be smart – If you have nothing in common, that is OK too – most important is that you know that before you meet that person and therefore can adjust your responses accordingly. It’s all a little like a game of poker – keep the poker face and anticipate the move.
Believe me, your employer will be doing their research on you too so make sure that the naked shot of you vomiting vodka jelly shots and sweetcorn in the street in Magaluf on John’s/ Mary’s bachelor / bachelorette weekend is not shared publicly! Be vigilant about what anyone outside your social circle can and cannot access on your social media! Ask a friend or someone you trust to review your profiles to ensure that nothing disparaging is public. I jest in this post, but it is extremely important – having been in employment for over 30 years, I can tell you some harrowing stories!
Read through every aspect of the job description and what is required – imagine what questions you are likely to be asked and your suitability for the job – mentally prepare yourself for those answers.
Imagine the worst questions you can be asked related to gaps in your CV or inconsistencies – prepare yourself for those questions as if you were grilling yourself – come up with the most conceivable answers or be sure to relate the truth without creating another concern!
Prepare a few questions of your own based on your research (not the undercover stalking stuff) of the company which might impress them and know that you have done your homework.
3. Evening before interview
So – your interview is tomorrow - Sounds silly, but make sure you have entered the postcode of your interview venue into your phone, especially the PHONE NUMBER OF YOUR INTERVIEWER (or written everything down) and you have all your hardcopies of your prison release they requested – you have set your alarm in good time (hopefully you researched your journey) and all this information is at hand before you walk out of your door. The reason for all this is that with the best will in the world – that gremlin will make you late and you forgot to charge your phone so you can’t contact anyone because you …. Yara Yara Yara
So, John and or Mary unexpectedly pop round and they want to play – celebrate their 2nd month anniversary of marriage before their baby is born – yes, they want to drink some wine, smoke a little bit of this / that – you have to say NO – if you want the job of course? You may have done a little research and thought, Oh My, I can’t cope with a line manager into tree hugging or climbing the Himalayas! If this is the thought process – send an email in the evening before your interview making your excuses about Auntie Maggie’s sudden death or tell Mary and John to go home!! It’s your future we are talking about here and only you know what is best – just let people know in advance for goodness sake!
So – apparently you are serious about this interview – you sent John and Mary home – you have gone to bed at a reasonable time – difficult I know if you are anxious, which, not going to lie, anyone who wants something bad enough will be. But you have your clothes laid out – tank top and shorts – and it is all good! You are prepared!
4. Morning of the Interview
Crumbs! Alarm goes off – you have not slept a wink! You are tired, disorientated – but you are prepared – you sorted out your stuff the night before – everything at the door plus your clothes – you are prepared!
Have your shower, please have your breakfast – nothing worse than turning up in the wrong attire (but you checked that, well done you) but you don’t want that little tummy rumbling through your prospective bosses explanation of your new job, now do you? Eat Something!
Get dressed, set off and knock them dead!
So, you arrive at the building, relieved, you are in the right place. You can see where you need to be and have a few minutes spare. So, you decide to stop and have a fag – WRONG! If you are a smoker you better damn turn around, hope you have enough time to pull on that disgusting cig, chew gum and start again – nobody wants to meet a stinky smoker at interview! Take some body spray or something with you – Ewe! That could be a job killer right there! Smokers – on the day of interview – try a vape – something that won’t make you smell like you just walked out of a world war 2 bunker! Seriously – it is extremely unpleasant - I know you agree.
Ok – you are good – 5 min before the interview you walk into reception. Don’t just take a seat – walk confidently to the desk – introduce yourself to reception – tell them who you have an appointment with. Likelihood is that they will acknowledge you, ask you to take a seat and sometimes, you will be offered something – a beverage of sorts! Coffee or Tea? Politely decline at this point – awkward to transfer to your interview location.
Take a seat – if there is material to read, pick something and pretend to read. Alternately, walk around your location and pretend to be interested in what is in reception – most companies have stuff on the wall that relates to the company – walk around, hands behind your back and pretend to read! I like to be standing when I greet anyone and this way, you are standing when your interviewer comes to collect you, you simply casually turn around to great them when they call out your name.
Tips for those who chose to sit – I can tell you right now that if an interviewee does not stand up when greeting me – male or female – we are points down – rude. That, on top of a wet fish handshake and someone who does not look me in the eye with a firm handshake – Mmm? – jury is out – what is this person hiding and why the lack of confidence?
So, you have been waiting in reception? All of a sudden, your name is called and you are faced with the interviewer, or the person taking you to the interviewer – respond quickly, make an assessment, extend your right hand and shake that of the other – “Pleased to meet you” should come out of your mouth and you should be looking directly into their eyes. Same applies if they are a conduit and you meet the decision maker after. A lesson for all – kiss each and every rung on the ladder, on the way up, as God be my witness, you will regret if you don’t on your way down!
Grasp whatever hand you shake firmly – look into the eyes of whomever hand you shake – may be perceived as a little old fashioned these days but if you shake a hand firmly and you look into their eyes, it means your word is your bond and you are to be trusted.
Firm handshake – you are now being directed to the interview room – be complimentary on the way there – say something about the building – talk about anything you thought was interesting either the courtesy of the receptionist or ease of access to their building – don’t be overkill or over complimentary – just talk – even if it is about the weather whilst you were traveling – make conversation!
5. The Interview
You are now in the room of interrogation! Your interrogator is likely to offer you a beverage of sorts – now is the time to accept! Coffee, tea, water – be specific – no time for hesitation – if it’s a café latte with one sugar – say so! If they don’t have it – you have subliminally put them on the back foot – say “Never mind” I’ll have a water – even more guilt will ensue – score one – remember you are a player with nothing to lose - they do. Remember the “Thank you” conversation with his / her secretary who is now standing behind that glass window telling the floor that you are her absolute favourite candidate because you were so gracious about the interview offer and you wanted to know the in’s and outs of everything and your enthusiasm just shone out of everything? She’s there, waiting and watching and she’s not about to have her best bet dashed! Be cool, but not too cool.
Ask where they would like you to sit? Ask if you would like to remove your jacket – better still, wait to be asked to remove your jacket.
Keep eye contact – don’t stare – but if you are asked a question, look directly into their eyes when answering – of course most of us that tell the truth look to our left to recall information but be mindful to keep engaged with your interviewer. If they lean forward to speak with you, mirror their movements without making them feel uncomfortable.
Answer all questions honestly – if you don’t know the answer or don’t understand the question – say so – ask them what they mean or could you re-phrase that?
Never tell anyone, especially an interviewer, that “you don’t understand!” – say instead, “I don’t understand, can you explain what you mean?”
When the interview draws to a close or you feel the interviewer has no more questions – ask them – “Is there anything more you would like to know?” If the answer is no, say, “Hope you won’t object but I have a few questions of my own…launch into the questions – even if you have to refer to notes and actually write their answer down under your notes – you have done your homework!
When you feel the interview has come to a natural close or they have indicated so – ask the proverbial question! Say Thank you again for the opportunity and ask If there is anything you could do to improve your chances? Find out where you are in the running because this is your preferred opportunity, however you have other offers and you don’t want to keep those people waiting unnecessarily if this is a real prospect for you.
Exit same as entrance – firm hand-shake – always standing up – thank the receptionist for her hospitality on the way out and don’t light a cigarette till you are far away and out of site of the building.
6. Post Interview
As soon as you arrive home – send an email – first - to Auntie Margaret’s closest relative to apologise for not attending the funeral and then pen a letter to you prospective boss to say thank you for your interview and how much you enjoyed meeting them, finding out more about the organisation and that you hope you will be successful in your endeavours.
Second - Call Mary and John – tell them to bring round a bottle, bong or any other such paraphernalia and have a jolly good evening.
If the job offer does not materialise – we simply re-evaluate – lose the tarantula and start all over again! All a process of elimination. You learned something - take what you learn from each interview and improve for the next one.
Don't be shy to ask your agent / interviewer why you were not successful and any tips they can give you for your next interview.