Interviews. Very few would say they enjoy them but they are a necessary part to moving forward in your career.
There are three typical, and obvious, things people focus on when they have an interview:
- Knowledge about the company.
- What they will say when answering questions.
- What to wear.
All of these three are important. However, there’s a fourth consideration which often gets left out: what impact are you making? By impact, I mean what impression are you creating and leaving through everything you do, say, wear, don’t do, don’t say and don’t wear.
Let’s look at this in more depth.
Making the right impact at interview – moving beyond the obvious
Impact means clearly communicating what you need to whilst also giving the interviewer(s) an idea of who you are, so they can decide if you are a good fit for the role.
When I help my clients prepare for job interviews, we consider and plan for five key elements that make up your impact at interview.
- Immediate impact
Begin by considering the impression you make on someone from the minute they see you, whether that’s on the computer screen or waiting in a reception area or the minute you walk through the door.
- Do you make the best of that first impression?
- What you are looking to convey e.g. energy level, interest (whilst not being over keen)?
- What can you do, say and look like to convey that impression?
Remember some ‘small talk’ at the start will make the whole experience easier – hopefully they will initiate, but if not, have some questions/comments in mind, ready to use and which are in line with the overall first impression you wish to create.
This might sound obvious but it’s a common mistake. A combination of nerves, a keenness to get your answers over, and possibly weak listening skills in the first place, can lead to poor listening.
Working with even a very senior client of mine, when we did a mock interview, I found she didn’t let me finish my questions. She cut me off half way and started answering. This made her look overly keen and nervous, whilst also provoked the concern ‘Do they never listen?’ It showed the importance of mock interviews in picking up things like this.
What can you do? Slow down and listen. Make sure you hear the question fully – after all you want to answer the right question. If necessary, take a few seconds to consider your answer. This is much better than delivering the wrong or a ‘pat’ answer.
- Own your space
You need to look like you are in control of the space around you, rather than shrinking in it or dominating it.
The common mistakes I see people make are:
- making themselves too ‘narrow’ (e.g. arms brought in tight, legs closed tightly together)and therefore nervous looking in the chair
- taking up too much space (e.g. legs wide open, arms falling out of the sides of the chair) and therefore looking domineering
- not realising that they are on a chair with wheels so every time they move when they speak they are creating a swaying effect.
Your goal is to comfortably own your space, looking relaxed but alert, with your body well positioned in the chair.
And what about virtual interviews?
If you’re being interviewed virtually, think about the proportion of you versus screen and what is seen of you. You want to be in the middle of the screen with some space around you.
- Structure your answers carefully
I work with my clients on this in detail. The essential is that you provide the right amount of context, so you create a ‘story’ the interviewer can follow whilst also emphasising what you did, your skills and the outcome. Too much context looks unstructured, too little leaves them puzzled and not always understanding what you are trying to tell them.
- Leave well
What is the last impression you want to leave? Consider carefully the questions you ask at the end of the interview and ask some, even if not invited to. Finally, determine what you want your last impact on the interviewer to be. What do you want them to associate with you afterwards? How can you create that impact?
When I prepare my clients for job interviews, we always think beyond the obvious and spend as much time on the impact they create, as we do on their answers.
If you’d like some more help and ideas, you can watch my short webinar Get That Job here or contact me to discuss your situation and how I can help you get that new role.
To read my comprehensive guide on getting a new role, click here.
I am also available to run workshops, seminars and speak on all elements of how to Get That Job. Contact me for more information.