Potential employers make up their mind about you between six seconds and three minutes of you sitting down in front of them.
You did read that right. Six seconds.
Everyone’s attention spans are getting shorter and when it comes to impressing the person to whom you’re asking for a job, money, benefits and other assorted perks you have less time than you think, so what should you do?
1. Make a good first impression. It may sound obvious these days, but a firm handshake, solid eye contact, a positive demeanour and an air of enthusiasm will make the interviewer believe you’re happy to be there!
2. Don’t waffle. Answer questions directly and efficiently. Don’t be glib or seemingly obtuse, but if you’re asked about yourself and you launch into an autobiographical diatribe about where you were born and the names of your nursery school teachers, you’re likely to lose your audience pretty quickly.
3. Listen carefully to what’s being asked. If you walk into the interview room with your own agenda and you’re prepared to evade questions you don’t like the sound of, you’ll get found out. The people interviewing you have, believe it or not, done this before and there’s not much that gets past them. Respond to what’s being asked and don’t try and give the interviewer a steer in the direction you’d like them to go. It doesn’t work.
4. Demonstrate your expertise. We certainly don’t mean show off. Again, there’s not much you can say that will stun your interviewer, it’s more like how you say it. At some point you’re going to be asked for examples to back up your claims and it’s worth researching STAR. It’s a universally-recognised technique for communicating meaningful and complete answers to questions that ask for specific examples. The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Provide a situation, describe the task and then the action you took, and then communicate the results. It may seem straightforward, but it’s effective, and that’s what they’re looking for.
5. Show, don’t tell. The information you impart to your potential employer really ought to be about the job you are interviewing for. If the job requires you to lead a team, let them know how you’ve done it in the past and explain your accomplishments. If the job requires driving around the country meeting clients, we suggest leaving out the time you got caught doing 120mph outside a school…
6. Think of your interview like the Home page of a website. That may sound odd, but the Home page of any site is designed to tease the reader in so that they NEED to know what else there is. If you give over every scrap of information at the outset, you’re liable to a) bore the interviewer and b)bore the interviewer. Give them enough so that they know you are capable of doing the job and then when you get the job, prove it.
7. No-one’s perfect. We promise you, you are not perfect. In fact we’re not sure perfect people exist. We have all learned valuable lessons from past experiences and you need to feel comfortable sharing those experiences and using the lessons you learned to be better at your job than you were then. NEVER, EVER respond to the question ‘what are your weaknesses’ with ‘I don’t have any’. Rather, pre-choose a weakness relevant to the role you’re interviewing for and let the interviewer know how you have improved.
At Asset Resourcing, we have two aims. To find great candidates for great jobs and to find great employees for great companies in IT & New Media, Admin & Clerical, Accountancy & Finance and Sales & Marketing.
Complementary to these end goals is the route you take to get there and as always, we are here for any advice you need about how to secure your dream job.
The Candidate Clinic section of the website is full (and constantly being added to) of great articles that will help you succeed, including writing your CV, thinking about changing careers, maternity and paternity rights and tax matters. If there’s anything you’d like to know about that isn’t yet included, let us know. The only way we know what you want from us is if you tell us!
In the meantime, please get in touch if there’s anything – regardless of how small of insignificant you think it is – we can help you with.
Have a great month and we’ll see you in March.
Ben Sweeting & Michelle Scott – Directors, Asset Resourcing