The Interview Conversation

A guest post by Keli Lenfield

Preparing for any interview is a process both mentally and physically. It’s normal to be nervous, after all it’s not every day that a brief conversation with a near stranger can potentially change the course of your life and your career. So let’s look at a few rules of engagement that you may choose to apply while preparing for this potentially life changing process.

First, consider the company outlook, their history, training programs, management and staff turnover. If you can, ask present employees about what it’s like to work there and try to get a feel for the place, do your research and never be unprepared. Basically know the job requirements, where it could lead and ensure you meet the job demands in terms of experience, personality profile and work history.

Do’s and Don’ts
– Do arrive fifteen minutes early and treat everyone you know with the utmost respect.
– Don’t assume the interviewer knows anything about you or has read your resume. Carry enough copies of your resume and be ready to walk the interview panel through your education and work experiences.

– Do refer to notes when responding to questions. Take notes on what the interviewer(s) say and come prepared with five reasonable questions to ask.

– Do ask the interviewer what they would like to know about you. While responding, modify your elevator pitch to explain why you are qualified.

– Don’t bad-mouth your previous employers regardless of what happened in your last position.

 Don’t ask about vacation policies, severance packages or any kind of job compensation unless you have been offered the position.

– Do ask the interviewers for their contact information and/or business cards so you can follow up.

– Don’t follow up unnecessarily as that may create a bad impression.

– Do send them a thank you message, highlighting specifics for your conversations with them.

– Do send job specifics from your previous job.

– Do make sure you spell EVERYTHING correctly.

Body Language

Your body language speaks volumes about you. When you enter the interview room, try not to show how tense you may be, for example when exchanging handshakes, an iron grip can simply mean arrogance but a limp handshake can suggest a weaker character. Be modest. You will be judged based on facets of your performance in different areas such as work hours, length of contract and team projects and remember you got to the interview because you fit the qualifications so now they want to see if you fit everything else. Try and resist the urge to touch your face or play with your hair while you speak and lounging during an interview can suggest you are a little too relaxed about an opportunity you should be taking a little more seriously and in most instances remember that less is more.

Questions you should ask

An interview is a two way street and therefore the employer should and will typically provide you with an opportunity to ask questions, however, take your time and try not to ask questions that are clearly answered on the employer’s website and/or in any literature provided to you in advance. Asking about salary or benefits takes tact, so definitely inquire about anything you are unsure of if the subject has not been raised by the interviewer or employer. Good questions are open-ended and behavioral questions, for example, what is the company culture like? What comes next? What is missing in my resume?

What you should expect in an interview

The employer’s perspective;

Your interest in the job

Your suitability for the job

Your knowledge of the organization

The employer will want to find out;

Why you’re interested in this particular job

Why you would like to work for their organization

Your strengths and weaknesses

The relevance of your degree (if appropriate)

What you have gained from your work experience

NOTE: The interview formats can be one to one, a panel, an informal group discussion or a telephone call.

Feedback and phone manner

It is likely that you will receive job rejections from time to time (you know, that crushing phone call that most of the time makes you feel less than good enough!) If interview feedback is being delivered via a phone call, try to maintain a professional phone manner whether you got the job or not. In delivering feedback however, interviewers should be timely and efficient, as detailed as possible, helpful and constructive.

They should also be prepared to react to complaints, so do not under any circumstances, hang up on a feedback call!

Professional SWOT analysis

In a previous blog I outlined the benefits and creation of a SWOT analysis when working out your goals. You can create your own SWOT analysis by defining your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to better yourself and further your career. If you want to excel in interviews, make a SWOT relevant to what you’re looking for, what you’re experienced in, are keen to learn more about and what you are looking for.

This will help you gain clarity, progress career-wise, excel in job interviews and propel you towards greatness in all aspects of your life.

Background and experiences

As we start off on our career journey, very few of us have the opportunity to get it right the first time and consequently most of us are left with a less-than-perfect early work history so when listing your work experiences, you should list them in reverse chronological order so that they can be easy for any interviewer to understand.

For example, If you have work history problems like unemployment or you quit, were unwell, became a stay at home parent, were laid off or you returned to work after retirement or a sabbatical, do not leave those years of blank in your work experience.

My advice is to mention it as there can be cause for conversation and gives the interviewer an idea of your personality, work ethic and attitude that may differentiate you from the rest of the applicants. Always remember that your experiences are relevant, so you do not have to start you’re your first job if it’s not to your advantage.

All of your experiences (good and bad) prepare you for not only your career but also your future and life decisions outside your career. Challenge yourself and find out what you love to do and aim to learn and be fulfilled while paying the bills and creating a life for yourself and your loved ones.

Visualizations

Visualizations are a brilliant way to prepare yourself, calm your nerves and raise your good vibrations before, during and after an interview. Remember that there is nothing to fear during the interview process. Visualize and think of how you would like the interview to be. With repeated visualizations, you can enrich yourself with more details and perfect the outcome and with practice you will expand on this process with a combination of positive feelings, self belief, breathing exercises and positive affirmations which will become a habit then a belief.

First impressions

You know the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” During an interview always shake hands when exchanging pleasantries, be courteous and while talking try to avoid filler words like “um” and “like” as they are not part of a professional conversation.
Maintain good posture throughout the session as your body language is everything and after the interview, show gratitude and thank the hiring managers for making time to see you.

Dress to impress

Conventional wisdom about dressing for success when it comes to job interviews, say you should actually dress as if you have a job higher than the level you want. While you might live in sweats and t-shirts, your potential boss should never know that, so be decent, hygienic and keep jewelry and fragrance to a minimum.

Finally…feel the part… Know that there is no one in the world like you and walk into that interview room with the confidence of worthiness and ability.

Do you have any tips for a stress free interview? For more interview tips and resources, get Keli’s bestselling hit book “Everyone is a Supermodel. Secrets for any career based on my modelling experiences.”

Keli Lenfield is an author, course developer, social entrepreneur and animal ambassador. She delivers courses to disadvantaged youth and writes for a number of magazines including The CEO Magazine and Haute Living. Her book has gained worldwide reviews and she is the founder of Keli Lenfield.com and Model Alliance.Global. Her tag line “Be the Difference to make a Difference” motivates her to be the walking and talking example for all who admire and inspire her.

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