Photo credit: quora.com
I thought long and hard about writing an article on a topic already dissected in every language and in every manner; but after having sat through interviews for middle Managers recently, it seemed a good time to dust the old manual and revisit the topic.
I had expected a higher level of composure and better quality communication than we got, it felt like we were interviewing entry level and perhaps the most shocking was they seemed ill prepared; knowing little about the company or even the role as it fit into the context of what the organisation does. My dismay was in order since this physical interview followed a virtual one and at least two prior communication, including a clearly articulated job description.
At the end of the day, this disconnect, especially not being able to connect their role with the goals of the organisation, appeared to be common across board; hence, back to the basics.
A few reminders:
An interview follows shortlist by a company upon the decision that a candidate may be suitable for a role within their organisation. Candidates, this means there is a need, you have already shown you can meet the need and the interview onus on you is to prove it.
I. Prepare, prepare, prepare: At every level, please prepare for the interview. There is nothing as dreadful as a seemingly experienced candidate that has not prepared for a role.
- Be sure you know what the company does
- Find latest news about the company
- Be sure you know what your role will entail and how your day to day activities reflect in the accomplishment of the organisation’s business goals
- To manage being nervous, interview yourself, use a mirror or record the session so you know what physical mannerisms to adjust and also to get comfortable asking and responding to questions.
This should put you in the position of ‘’chatting’’ rather than an executioner versus the condemned.
II. Still on preparation: Pre-locate the venue physically if you can, otherwise, a map is your friend.
III. Arrive on time: Not dead on time, at least 15 minutes before. This takes care of signing in, confirmations etc. You should be talking to your interviewers at the time that was scheduled for you unless there is a delay from their end, for which you should be pre- informed and apologised to.
IV. Welcome: Please introduce yourself as what you are normally called not all the names you were given; Africans, we know ourselves. The jury is still out on my name is versus my names are… cringe
V. Body posture: No slouching, sit upright and comfortably. See Body language: change how people see you tips here.
VI. Mannerisms: wringing hands, cracking knuckles, stamping feet touching chin or face etc; stop it all, TODAY! Do not prepare for an interview and remind yourself what not to do; habits are hard to break, break them before you get on the hot seat.
VII. Language: Keep it simple. Unless there is a need to get technical, keep it simple so that a 5 year old understands you. If you are interviewing for more senior roles, this already shows you will be able to groom and lead your team.
VIII. Answer only the question you have been asked: Be sure you understand what you have been asked and only answer that question as clearly as possible. You may use examples of what you have done before but nothing more. Talking too much may lead to saying inappropriate things (I have seen this again and again) and will take you down a path you are not prepared for.
IX. Maintain eye contact: this is different from staring your interviewers down. Look at the person speaking to you and look at who your response is directed at (could be one person or more). Remember to smile.
X. Ask questions: Don’t you want to find out what your research didn’t tell you? Or if you will fit into their culture? Asking questions also shows you take yourself and the position seriously and have done some background work.
XI. At the end of the interview, thank your interviewer(s) and let them know you look forward to hearing from them.
A word for the interviewer, please don’t bully or belittle your interviewees; accord them respect and give feedback so they know where to improve. It is also proper to close out the vacancy by letting them know if they will proceed or not.
Here’s to your next interview, break a leg!