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Your big day

November 4, 2021 by Kelly Kendall-Jones

Your big day

In our last post, we explored what you should be doing to prepare for the interview. This was all about doing your research about the organisation and the role in the lead-up to the big day. So, you’ve locked in an interview date, you’ve done your research, now you can just sit back and dream big…employee of the month, a promotion to a management position after your first year, followed by future senior partner and a huge office with a view on the 30th floor…

Hang on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s an insider secret; you’ve been identified as having the skills required, now employers are going to determine from the interview which candidate they like the best. And that’s going to come down to how you interview on the day.

I know what you’re thinking…. How do I get them to like me the most? Well, there are lots of ways and here’s a crash course to get you started:

First impressions count
You may have heard the saying, ‘You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Did you know it takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and form a first impression? Kind of scary, but it’s just human nature and we all do it. Once formed, first impressions tend to be stable and difficult to change.

Be sure you start off on the right foot by smiling, showing enthusiasm for being there and standing up straight like your mother told you. In these crazy pandemic times, do you shake hands? That depends – wait for them to make the first move. If the employer extends their hand, that’s your cue to follow suit.

Communication is key
The interview is now underway and the questions are firing. It’s important to know that when you’re answering questions, you’re not just communicating with what you’re saying. There’s a whole lot of other stuff going on at the same time. In fact, there are three elements of personal communication: your spoken words, your voice and tone, and your body language. Did you know that only 7% of all communication is done through verbal communication, whereas the nonverbal components of our daily communication, such as tone of voice and body language, make up 38% and 55% respectively?

Try to be confident and relaxed, maintain eye contact, nod and react in the appropriate places, try not to speak too quickly, and try not to fidget. If there are several people on the interview panel, try to engage with everyone.

Tackling tricky questions
You’ve prepared for the usual types of questions, such as ‘Tell us about yourself’ and ‘Why do you want to work here?’, and have so far passed with flying colours. Just when you’re feeling you’ve got this interview nailed, you’re thrown an unanticipated question: “What critical feedback do you most often receive?” Ummm….

If you find yourself staring down the end of a prickly question, firstly, don’t panic and remember there is no right or wrong answer. Stay calm, take a moment to collect your thoughts and ask clarifying questions if needed.

Use the STAR method
One way to approach behavioural questions such as ‘Tell us about a time when you overcame an obstacle’, is to provide a brief summary of the situation, your role or task in the situation, the action you put into place to resolve the issues, and how the issue was resolved as a result. The STAR method will help you prepare clear and concise responses using real-life examples.

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