Nerves, excitement, fear of the unknown and a lack of preparation are some of the feelings we may have when approaching a job interview. While the main objective of a curriculum is to get a personal interview, when we get this to this point, our goal shifts to convincing them that we are the right person for the job. This pressure should not turn the experience into a time of stress for the candidate and, with this in mind, Georgina Barquin gives us the following tips on successful job interviews, as part of the Employment Forum 2017.
A talent development professional and specialist in training senior executives and directors, Georgina Barquin also lectures on Executive Skills on several Master, MBA and Executive MBA programs. Today, she is telling us about some tips to follow and mistakes to avoid, as well as the questions that candidates should ask, showing interesting in the position and the company and making the interview a comfortable and fun experience from which we can learn and improve.
“The interviewer will set the tone of the interview based on the first impression we give”
First of all, solid preparation is essential for a job interview. When you send your CV to a company and even more so when they call to schedule an interview, it is crucial that the candidate investigates and prepares to tackle the situation successfully. Georgina gives the following crucial advice for preparation:
- Read the offer well in order to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary the company uses.
- Look for information, both about the company and similar positions in other companies.
- Find out about the typical salary range for such a position.
- Check out the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn and other platforms to find out more about them and discover any points that you have in common.
- Have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses and know how to sell your strong points in relation to the position.
- Make a list of possible questions to ask at the interview.
How important is the first impression we give in an interviewee? “Essential”, confirmed the EAE lecturer emphatically. To illustrate her point, she explained that, according to research by Dan Arierly, a specialist on behaviour in economics, “we all make decisions intuitively and then justify them rationally afterwards”. As soon as we walk through the door, the interviewer likes or dislikes us and “they will set the tone of the interview based on that first impression”. As tips, Georgina recommends being relaxed as you enter, being aware of what we can bring to the position and the company, showing interest in terms of what they can offer us and smiling naturally.
“For a few minutes before the interview, don’t use your mobile. Take the time to observe the people who work at the company”
In relation to a candidate’s attitude and behaviour before the appointment, Georgina referred to a video by Amy Cuddy available at Ted.com. She then went on to offer us the following tips:
- Focus on knowing yourself on an in-depth and continuous level so that you have a clear idea of what makes you different, what you can contribute and how you can add value. This analysis is beneficial to us far beyond the scope of job interviews.
- Do breathing exercises so that you go into the interview nice and relaxes, with a clear head.
- For a few minutes before the interview, don’t use your mobile of chat to anybody. During these last few moments, take the time to observe the people who work at the company, smile and connect with your surroundings.
These tips apply to face-to-face interviews, but we can also prepare properly when being interviewed by Skype or any other video calling platform. “We should not interrupt the interviewer. We should listen and repeat what you have understood as a summary in order to ensure effective communication”, advised the lecturer.
Georgina also discussed the possibilities that the internet and social media offer us when it comes to approaching an interview. Not only can we check out the company’s social profiles and corporate websites, but we can also find out more about the interviewer or potential colleagues. This is a way of showing our interest in the position. The lecturer advised us to do so openly: “I have got nothing to hide. In fact, I am genuinely curious about the person I am going to talk to”.
“I don’t usually ask about salaries or holidays, but rather I try to ensure that we are both interested in reaching a win-win situation”
Another tip that I always recommend at a job interview is to ask the interview questions. “I usually ask if they mind me taking notes in a notebook during the interview”, explained Georgina. This enables us to concentrate on the conversation and, at the end, we can “look through the notes to check if there any points or questions we have to raise”. In addition, se recommended asking open questions with the aim of creating an easy flowing conversation,
With respect to what to ask, Georgina suggested questions about the company’s culture, such as how they would define the company’s culture, what employees admire about the company and how they choose people when giving them a promotion. “What would you do if you had a magic wand?”. With this odd and bold question, Georgina wants to find our what kind of problems the company has or what changes it is looking to make. “It normally goes down well and the interviewers often give a lengthy explanation of what they would improve and how they would change the system”. In terms of salary and holidays, the EAE lecturer explained that, at least in her case, she does not ask. “I usually wait to see if both parties are interested. If so, that is the time to negotiate a win-win situation”.
Georgina Barquin not only gave us tips and advice based on her own experience as a coach and trainer, but she also focused on the most common mistakes to avoid. These included “trying to show them that we can do anything”, as well as “presenting ourselves as something that we are not (nicer, quieter, more talkative, more intelligent, etc.)”. Fitting in to a company or position means doing a better job later on. To finish, she highlighted a common error, “thinking that the interviewer is evaluating you” when, in reality, they are a person with a need to be filled. “They need a position to be filled and you are interested in resolving that situation for them”.
“Nowadays, job interviews aren’t as rigid as they used to be”, she explained, discussing how they have evolved in recent years, Moreover, she added that, in the best interviews she has ever had, “they took turns asking questions and I ended up interviewing the interviewer”. Bring the session to a close, Georgina concluded that “attending an interview should be fun (though maintaining the formality) and a positive experience for both parties”.