Some people love going on interviews, others hate it. Some people are comfortable disclosing information about themselves, others are not. Which- ever category you fit into, interviewers/recruiters are paying attention. True, some are looking for dirt and gossip, but mostly they want you to succeed so they can hire/refer you and get on with their busy lives.
In preparing yourself for the interview stage of a work search, be sure you have done all your venting and released all your anger and negative energy of your past employer before you even begin to put yourself in front of a hiring manager or recruiter.
Have an agenda when you go into an interview. Prepare specific points you want to make and don’t allow yourself to get derailed. If the tables get turned in an interview with poor questioning be prepared to highlight your strengths and bring the conversation back to what you can do for the company.
“In an interview, the focus is about you, not the organization you just came from,” says Martin Kingston and partner Annette Filler from Next Steps Canada, an outplacement and career transition services company. “You should have control over your search, not your search have control over you,” they both declare.
Toronto based Next Steps takes interviewing prep to the next level. They suggest you theme yourself. Identify your accomplishments and achievements, but also leave the interviewer with the correct image and perception of who you are and what you can bring to the position. Martin and Annette help you pick one of 12 themes such as creativity, people skills, innovation or problem solving and then help you thread it through all your responses. This common thread, this continuity, should leave an impression which is of importance to the company and their value system or work ethic.
With 20 years of collective recruiting experience behind them, Martin and Annette also shared what a recruiter wants to see when you meet them for the first time:
1. A candidate has to know the company directives and their values. If possible, network within the company to come up an insider’s perspective of the business. Ask the interviewer what the company’s values are and make the connection between your values and theirs. Don’t expect an interviewer to make the co-relation, you need to do it for them.
2. Illustrate that you have a sense of purpose, a goal for your career path. Know the answer to where you want to be in 5 and 10 years from now.
3. Show an interest in the job, that this is the job you want.
4. Express yourself in such a way as to sell your passion without using passion words. Smile, use positive verbiage, use your hands when you talk, ask questions and show enthusiasm.
5. Last but not least, be yourself, and be honest.
And what behaviours turn off recruiters/hiring managers:
- Poor eye contact
- Poor grooming, dressing and posture
- Swearing/slang/poor grammar
- Not listening and inappropriate reactions to questions
- Taking too many notes
- Cockiness or chit chatty
- Inappropriate use of personal physical space
- Not staying focused
Getting too familiar with an interviewer is to your disadvantage. Keep a comfortable guard up, remember this is a total stranger and they don’t need to know you intimately at this point in time. There are some smooth operators out there whose sole purpose is to get you to relax, trust them and dish the dirt. Stay alert in an interview, be cautious but warm and discerning and you’ll be sure to leave a positive impression and hopefully a call back.
Career Specialist and Trainer
Author of Networking: How to Build Relationships That Count and How to Get a Job and Keep It