You can only really improve your interview technique with practice so it’s not surprising that quite often we see exceptional candidates “come second” in the process; especially if it’s their first interview. This can be down to multiple reasons but starts with the interview being outside of your comfort zone. There are, however, a few things that can help/stop you clearing the final hurdle…
1) Don’t be late. First impressions are important. You want to make sure you’re 5-10 mins early (but no more than this). You need to make sure you’re off to a good start – and being on time shows that you’re keen.
2) Examples. When describing examples of how you react in certain situations don’t just use examples in the workplace – this is your chance to let them know what interests you out of work (my personal suggestion is relating to sports teams). You need to prepare this – it can be tough to think on the spot and long pauses are just awkward!
3) Body Language and Enthusiasm. Non verbals. Keep your hands visible, hold eye contact, dress appropriately and smile! Don’t over do it either – practice in front of a mirror even (just don’t let anyone see you). Be interesting and interested about the role and company. You seldom hear of companies going with the uninspiring, miserable candidate with no enthusiasm.
4) Research. Go in having read up about the company – you need to be interested. Go a step further and get them to elaborate on things you’ve noticed by asking open ended questions e.g. “tell me about your …, what is your main source of…, how do you deal with…”
5) Clean up your Act. Social Media – make sure your status, comments, groups and profile pictures are appropriate – the majority of employers check this (we do!). This includes getting a professional profile picture of yourself – no partying, no cartoons, nothing inappropriate – just you, looking sharp and smiling!
6) Build Rapport. It’s a first date. They want to find out about you and you need to find about them. It’s a two-way street. Don’t sit there and just say “yes or no” but make sure you don’t hog the floor – find out about them. If you spend a first date talking about how great you are you’ll probably not hear back from the other person.
7) No Phones. Leave your phone in your pocket or bag and make sure it’s on silent (not on the table). Embarrassing ringtones, text message alerts and calendar alerts going off in an interview are not a good look. Even the vibrate option can be heard and will be noted. My ex colleague Michael Clark used to say: “The only reason you can have a phone on your desk or on loud is if your wife is about to go into labour”.
8) Avoid Controversy. Don’t speak about former employers or colleagues with contempt; it’s disrespectful. If you didn’t see eye to eye then just say that…don’t elaborate; it’s unprofessional. They’ll think you’re like this with everyone. In Adelaide especially the business community is close – it’s more like 4 degrees of separation!
9) The (Million) Dollar Question. Asking about salary expectations. A tough one – you don’t want to over or undersell yourself one this. I’d usually say honesty is the best policy here. “In my last/current role I was paid X amount – for this role I’d be looking for” or you can turn the question to them and ask “what will this position pay?”.
10) The Close. You want to leave the interview letting them know you’re keen and gauging a response on how keen they are…without being too pushy. “So have I got the job?” is a little bit too forward. Plant a seed and show your interest with a simple “The role sounds great, what are the next steps in the process/where do we go from here?”. Let them know you’re keen and that you like them – without sounding like a bunny boiler!
Most importantly remember that you can’t win them all. Keep smiling and don’t get disheartened if you’re not offered the role.