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The Job InterviewItís hard, itís tedious, itís soul destroying trying to get a job. Letís face it most of us donít want to work to make someone else rich but we need the money and to do that we have to play the game; The Interview Game. A game of strategy, truth manipulation and self-belief. Like all games you have to play to the rules. The aim is to beat the competition and win that job. The more you play the better you get and the easier it becomes. Just remember as a game it should be fun, donít take it too seriously or you will look and become desperate.
The Interview Game Ė The Objectives:
To be offered the job
To understand the job
Rules before Engagement
Game Rule: Prepare
Preparation is the key to interviews. If you go prepared you will come across as confident and enthusiastic. It is understanding the lie of the land, learning everything there is about the company. The main game strategy is to take control of the interview process by asking questions that your research has stimulated. Donít let them pick you off with their set questions. No preparation, no job.
Game rule: Dress formally
Make sure you are well turned out, first impressions really do count. A suit and tie for men and a similar business outfit for women, if you have one; if not stop going out for a while and buy yourself one. It is the difference between success and failure. If you turn up scruffily dressed to an interview, unshaven, wearing too much bling, make-up or with too many piercings, you will be immediately disqualified from the game. If you arrive smartly dressed, youíll feel good in yourself and will be ahead of the game. It doesnít matter what the job is or whether the job itself doesnít require you to dress smartly, the interview does.
Game Rule: Arrive early
Arrive early. At least 30 minutes before the interview. You donít have to go in. Have a walk around, get attuned to the area. You may spot something that will help to make conversation easier. Looking around should help you relax, some fresh air, deep breaths and you can psyche yourself up while your doing it. ĎIím the best for the job. Iím going to give my best. Iím going to score 10/10. Iím going to enjoy this interview. Iím going to be in control. Iím a winnerí. Keep repeating positive phrases to yourself so that when you get in there youíll feel great and unassailable but donít get cocky. Get in 10 to 15 minutes before your allotted time. Talk to the receptionists if theyíre not busy, it will help you relax and you can find out more conversation icebreakers to help with the interviewers. Be friendly to everyone. Go to the toilet. Make sure you look fantastic. Flies done up; skirt not tucked into knickers etc. Skim read any company literature lying about; again it makes for easy conversation. Be alert, take in your surroundings and get a feel for the place. Keep yourself confident.
Game Rule: Be positive
When they come for you, a warm shake of the hand, not limp and clammy, big smile, straight back; remember first impressions. Make some easy conversation; everything youíve learned by arriving early will have helped. Always say your journey was ok when they ask; donít start off by moaning. Be positive about everything, donít moan or bitch about anything.
Rules of Engagement
Most interviews are in three parts: the opening play Ė they tell you about them; the middle play or main body Ė you tell them about you, question and answer and the endgame Ė you ask them about them, your questions.
Game Play: Relax.
Donít accept a drink if you are nervous. Put bags, paper, coats, hats etc. down. Keep your hands still, adopt an upright alert posture. Deep breath. Try to relax. Smile if you can. You are here now, you're on, you might as well enjoy it. Be open and honest and try to be natural. Always look your interviewer in the eye; if there is more than one interviewer, keep eye contact as much as possible to include everyone in the conversation. Remember they are probably as nervous as you are and they are hoping you will solve their problem.
Game Play: Ask Questions and Take Control.
In the Interview donít let them take control. Use you main strategy of asking questions which shows a high level of interest. You are aiming to get to the stage of an easy, two way conversation exchanging facts, ideas and views. They want to feel comfortable with you as you do with them, if they feel comfortable they will want to work with you and vice versa. Always remember it is a two way process; you also have to decide if you want to work for them so you need to find out about the people and the organisation. You donít want to end up in some lousy job but your goal is always to be offered the job.
Game Play: Look for openings.
They will probably tell you a bit about the company to start with, this is your great opportunity to get in your questions from your research and to show your knowledge. Donít waste this chance; it shows you are interested in them and that you have made an effort. This should make everyone feel more at ease and will establish your presence. Look out for other questions which you can use to your advantage to impress.
Game Play: Listen carefully and stay alert.
Listen carefully to their questions. Make sure you understand what is being asked. If you donít understand what they want ask for clarification. A classic opening question is, ĎTell me about yourselfí. This is far too open-ended and causes many interviewees to ramble on about their life history which is deadly boring to everyone. Say something like, ĎIíll tell you about my relevant experience.í And off you go. A great opportunity to sell your skills. Keep your answers short and to the point. An answer should be no more than two minutes. Be alert to your interviewerís mood through eye contact and their body language. If they are starting to look bored finish off what your saying.
Game Play: See it from their point of view.
Remember what they are looking for; they will be asking themselves the same questions: Can this person do the job? Can this person do the job better than anyone else? Will they be an asset to me and the company? Can I work with this person? Make sure you are answering these questions all the time
Game Play: Make the interview two-way.
Make sure you have thought about, prepared answers and rehearsed for all possible questions. Some questions may be phrased differently but your preparation should have covered that area. While answering their questions put questions of your own, this will put the emphasis back on them and will give you some breathing space. It will also help you to understand the job and the people you will be working with. So when youíve told them about your relevant experience you can ask ĎDoes that fit in with what you are looking for?í Depending on their answer you can tailor your future answers accordingly. (See below for examples of the interviewerís questions)
The Final Engagement
Game Play: Ask your questions
At the end of the interview you will have an opportunity to ask questions. Have a list of questions prepared. You should have covered most if not all your questions during the interview. It is not a good idea to come out with a long list when they feel like wrapping it up but you may have one or two items you want to clarify. Just say ĎI think youíve covered most of my questions butÖ.í (See below for examples of some of your possible questions)
Game Play: Never give up
At the end of the interview if you think youíve missed something out, tell them or if you think they have concerns or are not convinced by you, ask them if they have any reservations. Allay their fears. It is your last effort to win the game if you think you are losing on points. Donít switch off until you are out on the street again. Despite what you think you may be the best candidate theyíve seen or even if you are not, the best candidate may take a job elsewhere and you get the job anyway. Remember even if you decide you donít want the job, the objective of the game is to be offered it.
Game Play: Leave with confidence
You can sense when the interview is over, you should be in control now. Make a clean finish, get up shake their hand and thank them for seeing you. Donít linger making awkward conversation.
After the Game or Post Interview
All interviews are a learning experience, if you think you did badly, donít beat yourself up, analyse where it went wrong so next time you will be stronger. Every interview will make you better at the game. If you didnít get the job make sure you get feedback as to why so you can adjust accordingly. In the end youíll get there by being better and stronger at playing the game than all the other candidates. When you do get to that stage you will have the luxury of accepting or rejecting an offer based on certain knowledge of the job.
The Job Offer
When you get that job, itís time to celebrate. Your hard work paid off. Youíll hit the ground running in your new role Ė promotion Ė success and then on to a new, better, job with more interviews.
Of course when you get the offer you will need to negotiate your pay but that is the subject of another article.
Just to note; in the first interview donít talk about pay and conditions. Establish your worth. Make them want you. If they ask you about salary give a range so you are not tied in at too low a level or they are put off at too high a level. You have left room for negotiation.
Some general questions you might want to prepare for are:
What can you bring to the job?
What are your good points/bad points? (Strengths/Weaknesses)
Never give an actual bad point. The normal ones in the game are ĎI can be too much of a perfectionist but I am aware of it and temper my behaviour accordinglyí or Ďsometimes I can be too tenacious and take time before trying a different approach.í Work an answer out for yourself which isnít too negative about you as a person and can actually look positive.
What are you top 5 skills? E.g. communication, planning, efficiency, problem solving, tenacity, flexibility etc.
How do you react under stress?
Tell us about a time you had to deal with someone who was difficult.
Describe how you solved a problem.
Do you prefer working in teams or on your own?
What five adjectives would best describe you in and out of work?
What are your career objectives?
How would your workmates/family/friends describe you?
There are many more. Always give examples with your answers. Thinking through possible questions and answers will help you to focus on your positives, and how you can put them across as major selling points.
Some possible questions to ask are:
How many people are in the company/department?
What will I be doing on a day to day basis?
Who will my main contacts be?
What qualities are you looking for in this role?
Why is there a vacancy?
What is the worst/best aspect of the job?
What would I find most difficult to start with?
How is performance assessed?
Finally Ė It is a great and enjoyable game once you get the hang of it. Good Luck and have fun.