Oh the joys of an interview!! Being a lot, lot, lot older than the average student here at this magnificent institution of learning I have had quite a bit of experience in not only attending interviews as an applicant but also as an interviewer. In my earlier days, fresh out of boarding school, confident but yet woefully inadequate for the real world, I was a complete noob at interviews and even though I could speak quite eloquently and relatively to the position I still made elemental mistakes that either a course or life experience would correct for me. Now I have never studied anything about interview techniques but throughout my life there are a few tips and hints that I have come up with my own.
Now there are the basic tips that have always been around since Noah started interviewing for chippy’s to help build the ark and are still relevant today. These are:
- Appear well: Obviously have a shower or bath, shave (males, females if you have to shave then I am not quite sure what sort of job interview it is but go ahead and knock yourself out, shave away.), smell nice and be well presented.
- Dress appropriately: Dress for the position and the industry. Do not go to a job interview for a roadside construction crew wearing an Armani suit and dressed to the nines. They are just going to think that you are too precious and pretty and not suited as you will not fit in. On the other side of the coin, don’t go for a white collar yuppie position dressed in jeans, shirt and boots as they are definitely not going to hire you, as you just won’t fit in.
- Timely: Arrive EARLY for the interview, now this should be blatantly obvious, if you are going to be unreliable and late for an interview then how useless are you going to be with a job. If there is a reasonable and legitimate excuse, make a quick phone call. Chances are that you’ve blown it anyways, but at least you are courteous, considerate and polite, besides you still may get another chance.
- R & R: Have your resume and any references ready as well as have extra copies of your resume and references to leave with the interviewer. This shows efficiency, organisational skills and preparation skills. Be honest in your resume and do not exaggerate or make up stuff, be careful listing your hobbies. Think of it like a dating site, if you are so busy hiking,climbing mountains,going to gym, sailing and living a holistic life then how the hell are you going to have time to date or concentrate on work. In the grand scale of things,most employers don’t really give two hoots about your hobbies, unless they are going to interfere somehow.
Smithers: “This resume is very impressive. Let me be the first to say ‘abibu gazini.'”
Smithers:” ‘Welcome aboard.’ I guess my Swahili’s not as good as yours.”
- Speak clearly: When introducing yourself and answering questions, look at the person, speak clearly not like some bumbling mumbling nitwit that makes the interview cock an ear like some confused dog straining to hear.
- Eye contact: Now I am not a firm believer in eye contact all the time when speaking except when talking lovey dovy to your partner, threatening someone, proving a point or to initiate a discussion but it is considered bad form to not look at someone when answering someone in normal life, let alone in an interview. Also remember it is not a stare down contest and the average person, even though all the books claim otherwise, are not complete tossers who stare into everyone’s eyes for everything they say. That would annoy me as well as make me feel uncomfortable. A good test whether you should maintain eye contact is to do it initially and observe the persons reaction, if they look down and away then do not continue to look them in the eye but focus on their face, but for Heaven’s sake don’t stare at the weird feature on their face.
- Positiveness: Think positive or at least happy thoughts. Thinking happy thoughts before attending an interview will make you feel good and consequently you should be more comfortable speaking. We attract what we put out there. You will answer the questions in a better frame of mind, besides no on likes to talk to anyone who is so melancholy that they need psychiatric help afterwards.
- Information: Know your job position and what it entails, also do some research on the business or industry you are applying for. Apply this knowledge and research when answering any questions but ensure it is relevant. It is no use talking about the downturn of sales in encyclopedias when applying for an encyclopedia sales position. Also don’t just blurt out random facts or tit bits of information that are not relevant or timely. All it does is make the interviewer think “What the!?”
- Questions: Ask appropriate questions. It is quite okay to ask about the remuneration package but don’t start whingeing if it’s not what you expected.
In one of my very first interviews at the ripe old age of 21, I was going through a period of unemployment and had to go through the usual indoctrination by SS or due to the bad publicity probably, changed their name to Centrelink. One fine sunny beautiful day they sent me for a job interview at a business close to the Centrelink office.
The interview was progressing very nicely at first. The position was a sales rep for a finance broker who wanted me to go door to door and ask people about their finances and then try to refinance them. Sounded simple as I had already done about four years of door to door and telemarketing sales positions but the thought of asking people about their personal finances did concern me. After all I knew how difficult it was getting that sort of information out of people. The interviewer was an elderly man, probably in his 50’s and he seemed pleasant enough. He also promised to send me to university after 2 years in the position to get my business/finance degree and certification. I was pretty keen until I asked about the remuneration, which as it turned out was commission based. Now you can imagine my inner thoughts but I was still interested. I asked the interviewer when I could start, to which he replied as soon as possible.
I then told him that Centrelink had lined up for me three interviews and that I would like to attend them before committing myself. Suddenly the whole interview changed. He started to accuse me of not wanting a job and of being a dole bludger, to which I denied and restated my position. He then got up out of his seat and walked around to me and grabbed my shirt and yanked me up off the chair. I couldn’t believe it. In my mind I was thinking that I must be on candid camera or something because I had never heard of this happening before. I asked him to release me and didn’t want to hit him as he was old and who would they believe? An elderly business owner or some young jobless punk? All this time my mind was whirling with shock and questions of “What the!?”. He then spun me around up against the bookshelf and again I asked him to let me go. He didn’t and although something snapped inside me, I still restrained myself and instead grabbed his throat and just squeezed with all my might.
I can’t help but laugh at it now, but at the time his face turned bright red and his eyes just started to bulge. I squeezed until he let go and I then pushed him over his desk. All I remember was seeing his legs go up in the air and papers fly everywhere whilst I fled the scene. I got outside and ran the 200 odd metres to Centrelink and straight into the office and under the desk of my case managers office, all the time screaming “hide me!”. Full credit to the lass, as through my ramblings I blurted out that he had physically assaulted me and she jumped into action as by this stage the old guy had barged into the Centrelink foyer as well. I remember peering up over the partitioning and watching him, my case manager and the Centrelink manager arguing with him. There was a helluva lot of hand gesturing before the interviewer left.
My case manager and the manager came back into the office and started to ask me what went on, after telling them that the position was commission based and what had happened, they were totally sympathetic. I was then given 6 months off from ever having to attend an interview and the prospective employer was banned from advertising at Centrelink. As I said before, I can laugh about it now, but still can’t believe that something like that happened to me. So I guess the moral of the story is to always remain calm, be alert, be conscious of your surroundings and who you are dealing with and if you don’t want the position get out as fast as you can.
Now there are many, many other tips, tricks, hints and good practice for attending an interview. The ones I have listed above are just a few from my life experience and are not suitable for everyone. For good advice and most probably a more serious look at interview techniques please do some research yourself. It will pay of in the end. Also very importantly remain positive, even if you keep getting a knock back. Persistence pays off. Even if one interview may go badly, there is always another one.
That’s all for now. Thank you for your company. I hope I was able to give you a few good hints as well as some thoughts to ponder or laugh upon.
Till next time, peace and blessings.