March is here, spring is around the corner and you can feel summer aproaching, can’t you? In our last post we discussed the impact that social media and new technologies have had on the job market and mentioned a series of steps to take before applying for a job. Today we’re going to focus on the second part of the process: The job interview
Once again, the preparation for the interview starts before we step foot in the building. We all know how important first impressions are and we all have them when we meet someone for the first time so you have to bear in mind that the interviewer is going to form an opinion of you in the first five minutes, or less.
The “First Five” or “Halo effect” is a tendency to act on that first impression you’ve formed. Consequently, if you’ve given a good first impression during the first minutes of the interview the interviewer is more inclined to analyse further behaviour and answers in a positive light. On the other hand, studies have shown that if you don’t give a good impression during the first minutes, you’re highly unlikely to get the job, regarless of your qualifications.
So, what can I do to start on the right foot?
- Dress accordingly. This means not underdressing but not overdressing either. If your interview is for a position in the business department of a multinational company it is clear you should wear a suit but this would not be so if you’re interviewing for a cook in a fast food chain. Both interviews are equally important but the dress code is completely different.
- Mind your manners, both during the interview and in the waiting room. Bear in mind that this post is written for all types of jobs so, there’s a chance you’re going to be watched from the moment you sit in the waiting area. Here is when you should remember all of those manners your parents taught you: Be on time, sit up right, remember that “please” and “thank you” are your best friend, focus your attention on the interview and, unless you’re applying for an IT-related job, please (please!) turn your phone off.
- The handshake. This says a lot more about you than you may think. It may give away personality traits such us those regarding confidence, self-steem and may even be a great indicator on how sociable you are. There are plenty of videos with visual representations of the perfect handshake but this is the gist: Make sure your hands are not wet (you may be nervous about the interview but, if your hand is sweaty it’s not a great first impression) » Reach for the interviewer’s hand making eye contact » Give a firm (not strong) handshake with one pump. You may want to use this time to thank the interlocutor for having you.
- Be natural. Nowadays, those carrying out job interviews are undergraduates (or at least have extensive knowledge) in psychology but they are not there to bring you down but to learn about you. It is true that it is usually not a good idea candidates show themselves as if they’re among friends but, for most people, it is also true that playing a part to perfection pretending to be someone else, simply, does not work. Interviews may be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 or 3 days long so being natural and honest, within reason is always a good idea.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this second part of our Job Hunting special, keep your eyes peeled for our third, and final, part!
Have an awesome March!