-By Tamara Jong
An interview is much like a blind date. You have sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shaky nerves and a preconceived notion of what could happen. The perfect scenario unfolds in your mind, where you are calm, cool and collected, dressed smartly, totally in control, enthusiastically meeting the other person’s gaze and brimming with confidence. However, that idea has begun to unravel, because as of right now, you are LATE, because you got lost, forgot your resume, wore a shirt that is making you sweat and have pulled a muscle breaking in new shoes. As you are being led to the boardroom, you’re informed that your possible Superiors will be sitting in. Panic sets in with the realization that this blind date is over before it even begun.
What is needed therefore, is a realistic and proactive approach. If you’re a mere mortal like the rest of us, then you do get nervous about a job interview. If we could accurately predict the outcome of this situation, life would definitely be easier to plan. While we can’t accurately control the results, we can bank our odds if we keep the pointers below in mind.
Do your homework. Find out what the corporate culture is. Check out the company’s website on the net. Go to the media area and find out what type of functions they attend or sponsor. Is the work environment business casual or corporate? Wear what is considered acceptable attire and meet that standard. Make sure your wardrobe is clean, odor free and neatly pressed.
While this may not be the only job you’ve applied for, read information on the company involved. Understand what the position entails in detail. Keep a copy of the posting for yourself. Know your own resume inside out and be able to explain examples of your work and how it fits into their job description. Take down the name of the person you’ll be seeing, how to spell and pronounce their name and note (or ask) if it’s a Mr., Mrs. Ms. (Yes, this is important). Although you can’t rehearse the exact answers when you don’t know the questions you’ll face, it’s possible to find out what the latest interview trends are on Career sites or in your local bookstore.
Greet your potential employers with a firm handshake and smile. Look the interviewer(s) in the eyes, but don’t make them uncomfortable by staring. Try to relax by taking a deep breath. Tapping your foot and fingers or chewing gum is considered a faux pas. It’s best to match the body language of the interviewer(s), but not in a mechanical fashion.
The Actual Interview
Think positively and keep it all in perspective. Based on your abilities, education and work history, THEY called you. This is your unique moment to market YOU. You need to believe that you are by far, the best candidate for them. Make sure you look neat and orderly and pop in a breath mint for good measure. Slang or acronyms are not appropriate in your speech. Remember not to confuse confidence with arrogance and don’t interrupt or hijack the interview. When asked a question, pause and reflect on the answer and try to listen to be clear and concise. When they ask, “Do you have any questions?”, ask the ones you have prepared mentally based on your research and relevance to this interview and position. If this job still interests you, let them know and thank them for their time.
Remember, an interview is really just the beginning of the process, but first impressions not unlike a blind date can either make for a great story or fodder for the fire. Make this your opportunity to distinguish yourself from the pack and get that second “date”.
Tamara Jong is the Marketing Professional for www.canjobs.com , a leading Canadian owned and operated on-line recruitment site.