You want to change jobs, or are seeking new employment. You have identified a suitable role, sent your CV in for review, the prospective employer likes what they see and invite you for an interview. Now, if you want to make that position yours – you need to impress then interviewer with your personal brand. You cannot afford to present a mediocre version of yourself.
Being in corporate for 11 years now, I’ve had my fair share of cringe-worthy moments when it comes to interviews, all of which have contributed to my personal brand.
Our industry is quite specialised, and more often than not – we are headhunted for certain positions. This, however, doesn’t make the process any less nerve-wracking than it already is – because you want to present the best version of yourself, and if you’re like me – you want to make yourself proud.
First things first:
Arrive at least 15 minutes early. Late attendance is never excusable, unless you have a life and death situation.
Seek clarity. Be sure you answer the questions the prospective employer really asked. If you’re uncertain, clarify the question.
Provide your qualifications. Amplify the accomplishments that are most relevant to the role.
Dress appropriately. Whether we like to hear this or not, the first judgement an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing.
Since the primary aim of an interview is to exchange information, it should be done effectively. Therefore, be articulate, be honest and do not come across as someone who lacks confidence.
It is advisable not to talk too much and make boastful statements. The interviewer has probably sat in countless interviews, and is smart enough to spot this characteristic.
Don’t forget to make eye contact, and overall create an impression that’ll last. You want to memorable.
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Do your research. You should know as much as you can about this potential employer. Have a strong sense of the organisation, its culture, its competitors, the key challenges it faces and the opportunities available in its market.
I was actually asked in an interview by a previous employer: “What do you know about ABC Company. Did you Google ABC Company?” I was dumbfounded, because I didn’t Google them. I was confident that I had sufficient knowledge about them. I had done my homework thankfully, and I was able to mention that they were potentially looking to expand their footprint into Africa; and mentioned that they had in fact bought a stake in a company in Nigeria. They were impressed. (Side note: I mentioned in a previous blog post, that to remain relevant, you need to read / watch the news to ensure that you’re aware of what is happening around you).
Furthermore, understanding the requirements of the role puts you in a good position. Therefore, unpack the job spec and make sure that you have a thorough understanding of what the position entails so you can highlight areas where you can make the most impact.
MY TOP 3 CLASSIC QUESTIONS
You can bet your bottom dollar that you will be asked at least 2 of the following questions.
1. “Why should we hire you?”
The easy answer is that you are the best person for the role, and you don’t have to be shy about saying that; however back this up with what specifically makes you unique.
2. “Tell us about yourself” (Not really a question, but also an interview classic. It appears to be an easy one, but it’s not. It’s open-ended.)
To note: What the interviewer really wants is a quick, two- to three-minute snapshot of who you are and why you’re the best candidate for this position.
3. “What is your greatest weakness”?
Tip: You should select a weakness that you have already been actively working to overcome. For example, “I have had trouble in the past with prioritisation, however I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started using a pocket planner…” then explain your planner and how you are using it.
“Do you have any questions for us?”, the interviewer customarily asked. I remember one particular interview where I went completely blank. All that came out of my mouth was “What does the organisational structure of the department look like?” I was so nervous, however I managed to quickly pull myself towards myself, and say something. Don’t get me wrong, I had prepared for the interview – my nerves got the better of me, and that was a bit distracting.
Tip: By asking considered questions, you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are engaged in the interview process. People will evaluate you based on the questions you ask, so have a few good ones prepared.
Thank the interviewer for the opportunity, this always adds a nice touch. It shows politeness.
Donna Rachelson, branding and marketing specialist, says: “Send a thank you note afterwards, even if you don’t get the job. You never know when you might bump into the same people in the future. It’s always wise to build relationships where you can and to be remembered in a good light.”
I must admit, I’ve never done this before, however I’ve noted it for future references. Our industry is quite small, and the chances of bumping into the same people are highly likely.
Lastly, never let the negative aura of an interviewer get you down. Remain confident and speak your truth.
Job interviews can be daunting; however, I trust the above has given you some confidence to ace that interview, and that you’ve jotted down some tips for future references.
Until next time, love and light.