Some people are afraid of the dark, some of public speaking and others of interviews. However, all you need to remember to ace an interview is preparation, preparation, preparation and perhaps the following tips:
• Look into your interviewer’s eyes: This is perhaps my number one pet peeve and from what I hear from my fellow recruiters, I am not the only one. Looking into someone’s eyes conveys a sense of importance and presence. It says, “Hey, I’m not weird, I have no secrets to hide and I will even look you in the eye as I talk through my CV!”
• Be nice to EVERYONE: This includes everyone from the receptionist who lets you in to the assistant who gets you coffee. This is especially true if you’re interviewing at a small to medium sized company. Trust me, the receptionists and assistants will talk to their bosses about their first impressions of you. This brings me to my next point…
• First impressions matter: By first impressions I mean punctuality in particular. First of all, don’t be late but sometimes things don’t go the way we plan. So secondly, plan in some buffer time. Be there an hour in advance if you have to; plan for the worst. Thirdly, if you do all of the above and it still goes wrong, say the magic words: “I’m sorry” and make sure you call them as soon as you realize that you will be late. It’s all about managing expectations!
• Know your audience: The most frequent negative feedback that I get from clients is “The candidate wasn’t a team fit”. As vague as this may be, there are certain things you can do to convey the fact that you are indeed a team fit. For example, if you’re interviewing at a hip, modern start-up in Berlin, you may want to consider ditching the suit and tie and go for something a little bit more semi-formal. If you’re interviewing at a very conservative law firm in Frankfurt, you may consider not focusing too much on your gap year in Thailand and talk a little bit more about your A+ internship experiences.
• Don’t be obnoxious: Yes, an interview is about selling yourself but no, you don’t have to over-sell yourself. There is nothing worse than going through an interview with an obnoxious person. I mean the sheer effort put into not rolling your eyes as an interviewer itself makes the entire experience painful. Be proud of your achievements but realize that that does not mean you are owed respect or the job. If your achievements are amazing, the interviewer will realize that themselves.
To those of you reading this who have interviews coming up, congratulations! You have already passed the hardest step- getting someone to pick up your CV, like it and invite you for a meeting. To those of you who are waiting on some positive feedback from your applications, all the best!