Interview Skills - Going for a Job
by Jo Ellen Grzyb
Going for a New Job?
Jo Ellen has been offering some form of Careers advice for the past 15 years. She used to run career development workshops, and now does one-to-one sessions called Career Action. A couple of years ago Jo Ellen had a Careers Advice column in Cosmopolitan Magazine. Lots of the queries she got were on Interview Techniques and how to get the perfect job. Here are some of her thoughts after years of helping people get where they want to go:
You hear all sorts of rules about job interviews: people decide about you in the first 10 seconds; you have to make a good first impression; always ask insightful questions; learn as much as you can about the company; they'll probably ask questions designed to trip you up, so have some quick answers at the ready.
Not bad, as far as rules go: some of them make perfect sense. But getting the job you want isn't about following rules. It's about presenting yourself in the most authentic way that takes care of you and the interviewers at the same time.
So many people chuck their chances away: they don't take enough care and preparation so that the whole process is enjoyable, stimulating and informative for both parties.
Your first opportunity: getting the interview
If you want the job, chances are so do about a million other eager people, so your application has to stand out from the crowd. British resumes are usually dull and boring, and people create them as historical documents, rather than as marketing tools. You can boost your chances of getting an interview by making your resume look and 'sound' special.
Use good paper, design a personal logo, fiddle with the layout to make it easy on the eyes. Edit it ruthlessly. People always put in too much detail. Highlight the bits that relate to the job you're going for. They don't need to know you went to St Mary's School when you were 12! Put 'who you are now' at the beginning of your resume, and leave education and qualifications for the end.
If you don't have what you think are the right educational qualifications, don't worry. Just leave them off. If you include enough interesting and intriguing material about who you are now, what you didn't do is far less important.
I recommend a short paragraph at the beginning that says something about your personal qualities and your business skills. A short statement about what you're seeking can also go down a treat.
As we know, a job for life is so rare nowadays, that eclectic, unusual and even inconsistent resumes are OK as long as they're presented well.
Even if you think your current job stinks, look at the good points as though you were looking at it from the outside in. Most jobs appear much better from the outside than they do from the inside (only you know the real truth); so pump up the goodies and soft-pedal the baddies!
So that worked. You've got the Interview; now what?
Here's the key and the most important thing to remember before you go through the door. Unless they are simply going through the motions because they've already appointed someone, they want it to be you.
They want to know their search is over, so for the length of the interview, the job is yours. You need to make the most of it.
Having said that, first impressions are incredibly important. Be yourself right from the start, turning up the volume on those bits of you that most match the job; turning down the volume on the bits that don't. However, never ever shut the volume off entirely, as you will then be pretending to be someone you're not – a sure recipe for disaster.
Not a good idea to lie! You can be judicious with the truth, but lies have a tendency to return and bite you in the bum! Even if they don't know you've lied, you will be giving out signals that are a give-away that something is wrong.
Being put on the spot can feel very uncomfortable, and it's easy to fall into a defensive posture. If you're not sure of the answer or feel boxed into a corner it's all right to buy time – including saying 'I need some time to think about that.'
No matter how nervous you are, you do need to look after the people interviewing you. Show that you know how to communicate and relate to people: ask surprising questions.
Have a stockpile of anecdotes of past triumphs (and even a few disasters, as long as their funny or humorous side is apparent). This is not just a list of what you can do, but some personal examples that paint the whole picture.
Phew! Got through that; anything else I can do?
At the end of your interview, if you haven't been advised, ask when they think they'll be making their decision. At least then you'll know how long you’ll have to wait before you hear.
Many places don't automatically let people know if they haven't got the job; so one follow-up call is allowable. More than that and it can feel like badgering.
No matter how badly you think the interview went, if you want the job, always send a follow-up letter. Since most of us think of clever things to say after the fact, include one or two of those, referring to something specific from the interview.
Use phrases such as:
- 'I've given a lot of thought to our interview and...'
- 'Something you mentioned got me thinking...'
- 'What you said about _______ really struck home...'
If you don't get the job and you're curious why not, phone up and get some feedback. It may help you for the next interview.
Read other articles to do with interview skills and career development in the personal section of the Factory Gate & impactfactory.com
If you are interested in talking to us further about our work on interview skills and going for a job e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Author
Jo Ellen Grzyb is a Founding Partner of Impact Factory, a training and personal development company specialising in making work a better place to be.
She spent 20 years in the arts, entertainment and corporate sectors in development work on both sides of the Atlantic, before setting up Impact Factory with Robin Chandler in 1991. She is a counsellor/psychotherapist, broadcaster and writer. Her book, The Nice Factor Book, was published in 1997.