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Interviews are all about common sense and courtesy....and making the interviewer relax!

21 April 2015

Probably the most frequent question I hear after an interview has been arranged is “What sort of questions am I likely to be asked?” or “What should I do to prepare?” The answers are, of course, different for each individual. Rather uniquely, as a recruiter, I have an insight into both sides of the interview process. One thing that never fails to amaze me is how two people can be thrown together in a totally false scenario and come out with any kind of result at all! Provided I have done my job well there is at least a chance of the right outcome. Line managers, who will usually do the final interview, don’t normally interview people and candidates certainly are not professional interviewees. Unless, of course, they are serial job hoppers and very good at it or just pants at interviews and keep getting turned down. There are, however, some areas of commonality. Some areas where there is a perfectly reasonable expectation of knowledge in the candidate.

The interviewer will absolutely expect the candidate to know a bit about the company and will almost always ask. Why wouldn’t they? If you have applied for a job you should at least have the decency to have done some basic research. Know what the company considers unique about its product basket. Turnover? Customers? Number of employees? That sort of thing. Fail to do it and you might as well not turn up. Save yourself the time and expense and stay at home.

What make you right for this job? Again, a reasonable question and one you are quite likely to be asked. Read the job description and be able to refer to it as a hard copy in the interview. Mark it up with notes about where your background matches. Make sure the interviewer see that you have written notes on the job description. Skip over the bits where you don’t match. That’s their job! Try to make a work related story that will really nail your suitability and leave them with something to remember you by. If there is no job description them print out the advertisement and use that.

When they have finished asking you questions they will generally feel relaxed and ask if there is anything you want to ask them. Say that there is nothing you want to ask and you might as well pick up your coat, switch your phone back on and head for the exit.

You should always have some questions. Not too many as you can get boring and start to run into the next interview. Things like – what is the most important thing you are looking for in the ideal candidate? Then say something memorable like “I won’t push my luck by asking if you think I match that quality!” – and smile. Don’t start to ask about salary, holidays etc.

Practice – get some key phrases and responses ready. Just like the candidates do in those interminable “Leaders Debates” on TV just now. But not parrot fashion. Don’t sound rehearsed. Keep relaxed. Remember what I said at the beginning – the interviewer feels as uncomfortable as you do. Make them feel relaxed and, most importantly, MAKE THEM LIKE YOU. Smiling make you feel happier and puts the interviewer at ease.

Neverbad mouth your previous employer. The interviewer will immediately see the potential for them to be that person in the future.

So, that’s all there is to it. Some basic common sense and courtesy will go a long way but the most important thing to remember is that if it’s even a bit close – they will take the person the like most. We are, after all, only human. 

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