In the spirit of new beginnings, 2023 will mean a career change for many. And, of course, that brings an endless stream of job interviews.
So, how exactly do you go about landing the job of your dreams? By nailing your job interview, of course!
Shake off those nerves and prepare like a pro: office interior designers, Diamond Interiors, spoke to three other business owners to see what makes them tick, and set you on the path of the perfect job interview, from start to finish.
It starts before you get there
Every interview starts long before the first handshake. You never know who you might sit next to on the bus, or stand behind in the coffee shop queue – anyone could be your interviewer. So always be sure to project a friendly, professional and confident air from the moment you step out your front door.
Of course, you’ve already prepared to arrive early. Not on time, early. Make sure the receptionist knows you’re there, have a chat, turn off your phone and take note of your surroundings – it may make for good small talk topics later.
Resist the urge to cram in some last minute prep. You don’t want to come across as flustered or under-prepared, but rather organised and calm.
First impressions count
Stating the obvious? Maybe. But never underestimate the importance of establishing a real connection, and putting across the best version of yourself. Make eye contact, smile, give off positive body language, give a good handshake, and be enthusiastic. Be yourself, but also the best version of yourself. After all, everyone wants to work with people they like, so use this to your advantage.
Nick Politt, managing director of Diamond Interiors, says you only have mere minutes to show your best side: “It’s not unheard of for hiring decisions to be decided a few minutes into the interview. First impressions are difficult to change; people form opinions and stick to them. So you always need to put your best foot forward. Personally I like to see a smile, a firm handshake, and a little bit of chat before the more formal part begins, rather than a silent walk to the boardroom. Make that connection and impression straight away, and make it the very best you can.”
Prep for small talk
Small talk always comes first and, love it or hate it, there’s really no way around it. Getting your small talk right can make or break the interview. It’s how we build rapport and affinity, and can be the first clue for your potential employers of whether you have the right ‘chemistry’.
Part of small talk is undoubtedly being able to think on your feet and improvise, but you can still do a little prep work beforehand to keep the conversation flowing smoothly.
Claire Crompton, commercial director of digital marketing agency The Audit Lab, says she often hires for culture over everything else: “Unless you’re hiring for a senior or highly technical role, it’s becoming more important than ever to hire for culture first. If a person doesn’t have the right personality for your business, then they won’t fit in with the team around them, and quality and productivity is likely to suffer. This can work really well when you’re hiring for junior positions or straight out of uni – pretty much any skill can be taught – but if you’re hiring further up the ladder, then patience and perseverance are required to get the balance right.”
Unfortunately, interviewers often don’t remember much about every person they speak to – a downside of speaking to multiple candidates for one position. To jog personal memories, you may be referred to as “The Runner” or “The Cat Person” – so make yourself memorable; as soon as someone says “The Crossfit Guy”, someone else immediately says “Oh yeah! Them! They were good!”
So, what makes a good hook?
- Clothes or personal style (for the right reasons)
- Unusual fact about you (again, within reason)
- An outside interest
- A past job (maybe you scooped ice cream for the Spice Girls in high school)
Hooks are memorable, and they create an anchor for people to remember you by. And never underestimate the power of being memorable.
Jessica Morgan, owner of Carnsight Communications, prefers to take an informal approach to her interviews:
“I don’t like putting people on the spot. I believe people are at their best when they feel comfortable – that’s when they really deliver. I want to see what they can offer and I want to see a glimpse into the real person – so I try to make people feel at ease during an interview.
“It helps if they’re talking about their achievements and things they know about – at work but also their hobbies. I’ve actually just been on a WhatsApp chat with someone I interviewed 20 years ago for a role! The thing that stands out from that interview was his passion talking about running a radio show at university. He came alive and I saw a bit of the real him and hiring him was one of the best decisions I made in that role!”