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28th September 2014
The Ultimate Sale – the Interview
An interview is all about selling your skills, says writer and interim manager AA Abbott
As well as writing thrillers set in the world of big business, I do interim work, mainly for large corporations. That means that I go for interviews more often than most employees who settle into their roles for many years at a time. Here are my 5 top tips:
An interview is a chance for you to show the employer how you can help them. You’re selling your personality and skills to them. Imagine you went into a car showroom, saw a car you liked and asked a salesman about it. If he was hesitant and unsure about its merits, you wouldn’t buy it, would you? Similarly, you must appear confident in order to attract an employer’s confidence in you.
You’ll already know if you’re the sort of person who lacks confidence, or conversely, appears arrogant to others. If the latter, simply be yourself at the interview, but make a real effort both to listen and be polite. If you’re shy, remember – the employer already rates you, because you’ve been asked to an interview in the first place. You deserve to feel confident. Practice pushing back your elbows (the excellent London success coach, Susan Treadgold, tells women to put their hands on their hips for two minutes – it straightens the shoulders and produces a more confident posture).
I like to be productive, and I have a terrible habit of “writing just one more email” before heading out to catch a train. It really isn’t worth cutting it that fine. Leave in plenty of time; it is better to be early than too late. On one occasion, a recruitment consultant gave me the wrong address for her client – just as well I had half an hour to spare.
I once interviewed a candidate who turned up in an anorak and wore it throughout our meeting. The room was not unduly cold. He was easily the most technically able applicant for the job, but I couldn’t afford to offer it to him. He would have been a poor ambassador for his own work and for my team.
At the very least, wear a jacket for gravitas (another Susan Treadgold tip). Headhunter Gary Chaplin urges candidates to make sure their shoes are clean. Look at it from the interviewer’s perspective – if you can’t make an effort to look good when you want something from them, how much effort will you put into the role?
Heard the old saying “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? Concentrate on two aspects: find out more about the company so you know what you can do for them, then spend time considering how to answer the questions they might ask. You can buy books of suggested Qs and As if you find this difficult. I believe in being truthful (even if you made a mistake, presumably you learned from it). I was astonished when a friend showed me an outplacement consultant’s assertion that “The truth has no place in an interview”.
Remember it’s a two-way street. Ask friends about the company and prepare questions to find out if their culture is for you. After receiving emails from a prospective boss at 11pm and on bank holidays, I asked her “You seem rather busy. Is it a spike in your workload or is it always like this?”
So you were smart, you turned up on time, you looked confident and you showed them how you could help them. Did you also swap business cards to ensure you had your interviewer’s email address? It is courteous to send a quick follow-up email, and also an opportunity to remind them of your strengths.
I bet none of this is completely new to you – but do you always remember to do it? Put that jacket on, and good luck!
AA Abbott’s latest thriller, After The Interview, features an appalling interview and the revenge that follows. The book is available on Amazon from as little as £2.99, and gathering five star reviews already – read 3 chapters free at http://aaabbott.co.uk.
Tags: Personal Growth