When attending an interview it is very important to get it right. The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself in the best way. You got through the first selection process, you do not want to get it wrong now. It is said that it is the first four minutes which get you the job. So your first introduction and appearance are of the utmost importance. The rest of the interview that follows will depend a lot on this. Make sure you get it right by reading and following the below tips and advice.
Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
It's about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. That first impression can be a great beginning -- or quick ending -- to your interview.
Whether you're interacting with a customer, your boss or a colleague in another company, a confident, well-executed handshake is one of the best business skills you can cultivate to ensure that each new encounter gets off on the right foot -- and that you are representing yourself and your company positively.
A handshake is "an opportunity to establish rapport and positive chemistry," suggests Dana May Casperson in Power Etiquette: What You Don't Know Can Kill Your Career. "An immediate bond develops from the touch of a hand that sets the tone for conversation and future business association."
While a handshake might seem a fairly simple and straightforward gesture, there are nuances involved with this highly psychological social ritual. These expert tips will help you ensure that your handshake is communicating what you want it to:
Get the Timing Right: Always shake hands at introductions and goodbye’s
Speak Up: Say something when you shake hands.
Get a Grip: A medium-firm grip conveys confidence and authority.
Dry Your Palms: Sweaty palms communicate nervousness.
Shake Palm to Palm: Make sure you shake palm to palm, and keep your hand perpendicular to the ground.
Mind Your Audience: Be observant, and follow the cues of those around you, says Casperson. Respond with pressure that meets the pressure you receive.
Know When to Let Go: The ideal handshake lasts approximately three seconds.
It begins even before you say your first word in an interview. As the interviewer walks toward you to shake hands, an opinion is already being formed. And as you sit waiting to spew out your answers to questions you've prepared for, you are already being judged by your appearance, posture, smile or your nervous look.
Look back at speakers or teachers you've listened to. Which ones stand out as memorable? The ones who were more animated and entertaining, or the ones who just gave out information? This is not to say you have to entertain the interviewer -- no jokes required -- but it does mean the conversation should be animated and interactive. If you say you are excited about the prospect of working for this company but don't show any enthusiasm, your message will probably fall flat. So smile, gesture once in a while, show some energy and breathe life into the interview experience.
And don't underestimate the value of a smile. In addition to the enthusiasm it expresses to the interviewer, smiling often makes you feel better about yourself.
The Handshake: Firm but not too hard
Your Posture: Stand and sit erect. Not rigid.
Eye Contact: Look the interviewer in the eye. Don’t Stare
Your Hands: Gesturing or talking with your hands is very natural, but keep it in moderation.
Don't Fidget: There is nothing worse than people playing with their hair, clicking pen tops, tapping feet or unconsciously touching parts of the body.
Preparing what you have to say is important, but practicing how you will say it is imperative. The nonverbal message can speak louder than the verbal message you're sending.
Dress for the Job or Company
Today's casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as "they" do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the interview.
"In an interview situation, you're marketing yourself as a product, and so you want and need to have the best image possible," says Amy Glass, a trainer and coach at Brody Communications Ltd. of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and an expert on presentation skills, business etiquette, professional presence and interpersonal communication.
Presenting a professional image is more about doing your homework than spending money.
It's OK to Ask What to Wear
In many traditional industries, like finance or accounting, business professional dress will be appropriate: A conservative suit, shirt and tie if you're a man, or a conservative suit if you're a woman, with -- perhaps -- personality shown through your shirt or jewelry, Glass says. In other industries such as advertising, public relations, graphic design and information technology, what to wear might be less clear. If that's the case, Glass says, ask about the company's general dress policies when you're first contacted about an interview.
"You can say to the person you speak with, 'I want to make sure I understand your company culture and dress appropriately,'" Glass notes. "It's not a bad thing at all. In fact, it shows respect."
If in doubt, err on the conservative side. "I've been overdressed at times, and that can be uncomfortable," Glass says. "But that's much better than being underdressed."
If you have leather shoes, Glass says, make sure they're shined. If you have suede shoes, make sure they're brushed. And if your shoes are five years old, have the soles redone at a shoemaker. If you have a leather briefcase and it's still in good shape, now's the time to use it. If you don't, a nice portfolio binder will do just fine.
Will all the effort and expense you put into your professional image for your interview make any difference? Absolutely, Glass says. In fact, it's essential.
"Your image matters because it shows your attentiveness to detail and gives recruiters an idea of how you'll represent their company to clients, both internally and externally," Glass concludes. "The visual message you send makes a big difference in how you're perceived and, ultimately, whether or not you get the job."
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said.
Good listening counts in business. Donald Carstensen, vice president for educational services at ACT, surveyed a group of business leaders about the skills businesses are looking for in new hires. Seventy-three percent rated listening an "extremely important" skill. When Carstensen asked business leaders the percentage of high school grads with good listening skills, the result was only 19 percent.
Other studies over the past few decades indicate that business leaders consistently rank listening among the top five skills they expect employees to have.
Good and Poor Listeners
What are the characteristics of good and poor listeners? A study conducted of 900 college and military students ages 17 to 70 showed the following traits of good and poor listeners (in order of importance).
A good listener:
Uses eye contact appropriately.
Is attentive and alert to a speaker's verbal and nonverbal behavior.
Is patient and doesn't interrupt (waits for the speaker to finish).
Is responsive, using verbal and nonverbal expressions.
Asks questions in a nonthreatening tone.
Paraphrases, restates or summarizes what the speaker says.
Provides constructive (verbal or nonverbal) feedback.
Is empathic (works to understand the speaker).
Shows interest in the speaker as a person.
Demonstrates a caring attitude and is willing to listen.
Doesn't criticize, is nonjudgmental.
A poor listener:
Interrupts the speaker (is impatient).
Doesn't give eye contact (eyes wander).
Is distracted (fidgeting) and does not pay attention to the speaker.
Is not interested in the speaker (doesn't care, daydreaming).
Gives the speaker little or no (verbal or nonverbal) feedback.
Changes the subject.
Talks too much.
Gives unwanted advice.
Too busy to listen.
Don't Talk Too Much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the intervies by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position's requirements and relating only that information. Do some research about the company.
Don't Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer's demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language
It's a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate language or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation -- these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don't Be Cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you're putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take Care to Answer the Questions
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioural interview questions which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don't answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, "No." Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you're asked during the interview and asking for additional information.
In many situations, the questions you ask in an interview can be more revealing than the answers you give. Recruiters are looking for candidates who ask insightful questions throughout the recruitment process; they see candidates' questions for employers as clues about their analytical skills.
Questions are also a sign of enthusiasm, something most recruiters and hiring managers desperately want to see. “The way to show interest is by asking follow-up questions, really taking interest in what they're doing and showing that you've done some research as well,” says Austin Cooke, director of global recruitment at Sapient, a technology consulting company.
The Best Types of Questions
There's no standard set of good questions to ask employers. “The questions should be thoughtful, not canned, because any good recruiter is going to know somebody told you to ask that question, and that's a turnoff,” says Jennifer Scott, head of recruitment for Petro, the nation's largest heating oil service and delivery company. “I hate it when people have a list of generic questions.”
Recruiters suggest asking questions specific to the company and industry you're exploring. The best candidates “ask really well-thought-out questions that show that you know the [interviewer's] business,” says Kirch. “You know their company to some extent, and you've thought about your question. It all goes back to preparation, and it tells the interviewer you thought about this interview before you walked in the door.”
Many recruiters also like to see someone latch onto a point from the interview and delve into it more deeply. “Show me you can think on your feet,” says Scott.
Don't Appear Desperate
When you interview with the "please, please hire me" approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm and confidence. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
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