Last weekend saw inventor Tom Pellereau win the final of 2011’s The Apprentice, having captured the imagination of Lord Sugar with his abundance of ideas for new inventions and nice guy personality. However, in this difficult market it takes more than clever ideas and a big smile to win over your potential new boss.
So how you make an impression and ensure that you land the job? We spoke to Sarah Dean, Team Leader at Source, who advises all interview candidates on how to make a great first impression. ‘Research the company you’re going to, and ideally who you are meeting too,’ she advises. ‘Check out the company website for press pages, and if you get the chance, make a point of mentioning their recent wins, new appointments etc. This should hopefully encourage more comfortable conversation. Additionally make sure your know your own CV inside out, and be prepared to comment on successes, struggles (and how you overcame them) throughout your career. Finally, when the meeting comes to a close, if you’re still interested in the role, let the interviewer know. Leave the room on a positive note!’
Here are the rest of her top tips to help you to stand out from the rest of the candidates and ensure You’re Hired!!
It’s a generally regarded fact that people make their minds up on whether a person would be the correct fit for their company in the first two minutes of an interview. This makes first impressions all the more important. It’s really crucial to remember that people feel most comfortable when they are with people they feel are like them.
Tips on creating a great first impression:
Research the person you are meeting – We now have Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and LinkedIn at our disposal. Make sure you know where the person you are meeting has worked previously and, if you can, any personal facts and likes and dislikes. This can help you build your rapport by mentioning a passion for art if that is their passion.
Managing your online persona – As you might be researching who you are meeting they could equally be doing the same with you. You don’t want to already be on the back foot with your interviewer having a bad impression of you before you even meet. It is really important that all strands of social media reinforce the persona you will try and build in the interview. A drunken Facebook photo may not convey you are a safe pair of hands and a good representative of their company. If the images are already in existence and you don’t want to get rid of them, try enhancing your privacy settings or even deactivating your profile during the recruitment process. There is nothing bad about being an enigma.
Be early, but not too early – It’s important to be early for an interview but no more than 10 minutes. The person you are meeting will have a schedule.
Knowledge of the company – Make sure your knowledge of the company is faultless, how can you present yourself as the person for the job if you don’t know anything about the company?
Dress to suit – If you are meeting a creative, dress more creatively. On the flipside, if your first interview is with HR you might want to think about toning it down and opting for a suit or smart outfit. You need to be able to convey that you would slot into the company in all aspects and dress and appearance is a key factor, if hired you will represent the brand and you need to look like the ideal representative.
Mirroring body language – Psychologically people feel more in tune with people who mirror their body language making them feel comfortable with you.
So by this point you have made a killer first impression, so what next? How do you convert the great first impression into the all important job offer? As with most things in life confidence is key, but failing that these tips should help.
Be conscious of where you sit – For something more informal, you may want to place yourself so you’re on a corner and there is less ‘table’ between you and your interviewer, rather than directly opposite. However, if the interview is more formal, you should adhere to protocol, and sit directly opposite your interviewer.
Adopt a persona – If interviews turn your normal iron confidence into shaky mush, then consider adopting a persona of the uber confident person you want to be. Beyonce has Sacha Fierce (or the male equivalent!), and so too can you, think of your business idol and picture how they would act in the interview.
They are people too you know – Remember that the person who’s interviewing you could be nervous too, and is worried about how they are representing their company. Try and diffuse the tension; make them feel comfortable and enjoy spending time chatting to you.
Link your experience back to the brief – This might seem obvious but if your experience doesn’t exactly match the job brief, highlight parts of your experience that does or any transferrable skills, showing that you are aware of what they are looking for gives a great impression and shows that you understand what would be required of you should you be hired.
Enthusiasm – Everyone likes someone who is enthusiastic and seems genuinely excited about the prospect of working with them. Make sure you ask questions and show awareness, but don’t go overboard and end up asking more questions than they have!
Show humility – We all know that an interview is your opportunity to sell yourself, but it’s important to always be humble. Always remember that no one likes a show off!
Don’t use the cliché – As last night will demonstrate, you shouldn’t use the cliché as your comfort blanket. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, too many clichés in a sentance can end up as nonsense
Follow up – As soon as you get out of the interview call up your recruiter, it’s best to tell them how you think it went while everything is fresh in your mind. It is also a great opportunity to iron out any weaknesses you feel have been exposed during the interview and head them off quickly by getting your recruiter to give them a call to ease your mind.
[picture credits: BBC; Kenhurst]