James Max - James Max is a broadcaster, columnist and business expert

How to get the job you want – part 2

In the second of my online guides… you have been invited to an interview. Congratulations! However, don’t get complacent. Now the real work begins!

How to get the job you want part 1

My simple rule for interviews is that you need to do everything you possibly can to ensure that you DON’T give the interviewer a reason to turn you down. I will presume that you are sensible enough to know everything you can about the job on offer, the company that is offering it and why you want the job.

Even in the good times, competition for the best jobs will be tough. In difficult times such as now, it’s even tougher. These are the top mistakes made and my advice on what you can do to avoid making them.

If it’s too firm or too soft or too sweaty…
** I know it sounds weird, but practise your handshake with your friends. If you are prone to a sweaty palm? Take a handkerchief and wipe it just before you meet your interviewers.

Who is interviewing you?
A common error is to be surprised either by not knowing whom you are going to be interviewed by, how senior they are or what they do.
** The Internet. Really, I know it is obvious but with most companies they will have a corporate site. Find out who is going to interview you and look them up. Find out what they do. Try to do your research before you go in. This will allow you to be deferential to the right person (people) and also if you know what they do and their seniority you’ll get a better grasp of what they are looking for and be able to prepare yourself better.

So many people will go to an interview wearing the wrong clothes, looking scruffy, inappropriate for the job they are seeking or simply looking awful.
** I’ll let you into a secret. Many years ago I was looking into the jobs I could or should do. For a while I aspired to work in advertising. I even got an interview with one of the leading advertising agencies in the company. My chances were totally ruined because I turned up in a suit and a tie. Immediately they dismissed me because I didn’t “get” advertising and how they worked. Unfair? Perhaps but that is the way of the world.

If you are a bloke, don’t wear a blue shirt if you get hot (remember Tony Blair and his sweat patches?! Ewww!), never wear a yellow shirt or tie, do polish your shoes and ensure your shirt is ironed and clean on (seriously the number of people I interviewed who turned up in a manky, unwashed shirt!), get a haircut and brush yr hair! If you are going for a professional or office job, avoid the coloured shirts with a white collar, avoid button down collars and a double cuff is preferable. Don’t wear a waistcoat, braces or pointy/cheap shoes. If you are a lady? Don’t be brassy. Don’t wear too much perfume. Be careful with your choice of earrings, don’t wear a neck scarf, too higher heals or a skirt that’s too short or a blouse that reveals too much. Simple I know but basic. Always ask people you trust for their advice and try to find out what people in your chosen job wear and replicate!

You’d be surprised how many people turn up with filthy breath.
** On the morning of the interview brush your teeth and rinse with a strong mouthwash. Take some mints with you. Especially handy if you do smoke and just as handy if you had a strong cup of coffee on your way in.

Don’t interrupt!
Many interviewees are so nervous they will interrupt an interviewer.
** Always wait until the person has finished speaking. Gather your thoughts and then answer. Don’t give yes or no answers either. Unless you are going to back up your claim. Don’t be wishy-washy.If you don’t know? You don’t know. Don’t BS your way out of it. You will be rumbled. Be clear, concise and think before you speak and don’t answer a question with a question. There’s no need to be funny and don’t be flippant either.

Questions at the end
On so many occasions an interviewee who has nothing further to say, ask or comment upon has ruined a good interview.
** The best policy is to have two or three questions pre-thought. Don’t make the first one about money. To be honest financial terms should not come into the conversation until you know they want you. Then you can begin to deal with the grubby subject of remuneration and “perks”. Ask intelligent questions about the role, the company, the team and your career progression. How they measure success, what skills they really want to hire and be focussed and organised in your approach. Don’t just ask a question that is generic. Ask one that sets you out from the crowd. But not in a bright orange pullover kind of way.

And some final quick tips…

Don’t go out the night before.
Do have an early night.
Don’t cut it fine in terms of journey time.
Do arrive five minutes early.
Don’t be too familiar.
Do engage.
Don’t be quiet and shy.
Do sit up straight.
Don’t leave your mobile phone on.
Do give more than one word answers
Don’t waffle.

And finally. If you think the interview went well, make sure you have the details so you can at least send a thank-you email or even better a thank you note indicating that you enjoyed the interview, one reason why you are enthused about the potential job and one reason why you are right for it. Just make sure you address it correctly and check, check and check again for the spelling of company names, addresses, titles and so on.

And finally? Believe in yourself. If you can’t do that how on earth can you expect your interviewer to do so?

Next time… I’ll look at the tricky subject of promotions and pay rises!

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