YOUR SCHEDULE FOR THE DAY
You never know how long an interview is going to last (although the norm is about 90 minutes). Be ready for every eventuality and avoid at all costs having to leave saying that a) you’re sorry but you have to meet another potential employer in 10 minutes, or b) that you have to pick up your child at 5 o’clock!
THE KEY MOMENTS OF THE INTERVIEW
Whoever comes to greet you, always be courteous (even with the secretary or the assistant) and appear relaxed, fresh and open.
Recruiter’s introduction, the crucial first five minutes
It’s often said that everything is decided in the first 3 minutes. The beginning of the interview will set the tone. Pay attention to signals (does your interviewer look preoccupied? Does s/he look as if s/he has time to talk to you?) and adapt your behaviour accordingly.
Ask intelligent questions and be able to respond to questions, a matter of preparation
if you have prepared well, you’ll be able to answer questions and to ask your interviewers questions which are RELEVANT. Never turn up with a shopping list of questions (it’s not you who’s conducting the interview) but be able to pick up on things your interviewers say and make good use of them. Don’t ask questions about hours of work and perks at the first interview. The more time you spend asking about the responsibilities and content of the position, the better you’ll look to the future employer.
Detect loopholes and opportunities by your behaviour and that of the recruiter
The golden rule is as follows: there are no bad candidates or bad career opportunities. There are candidates who are not suited to the specific opportunity on offer!
Once you’ve fully understood this, you’ll realise that there’s no point selling yourself more than you need to. You’re sitting there to find out whether your experience matches what the company has to offer you. If you have 20 years of experience in accounting and you’re being assessed for a job as a junior accounting analyst, there’s no point saying that you’re flexible and willing to take on new challenges (although in this case, why did they call you to interview? And why not ask your
interviewers if there are other openings?)
Some other advice on WHAT NOT TO DO:
Fail to listen, thereby making your interviewers repeat themselves (infuriating, believe me!)
- Fail to listen, thereby making your interviewers repeat themselves (infuriating, believe me!)
- Talk about your private life (inappropriate)
- Chew gum (you’re not a cow)
- Criticize your previous employer (fatal mistake)
- Lie about your qualifications and previous experience (very risky)
- Kiss your interviewer good bye (yes, people have tried to do that to me)
- If the interview takes place in a restaurant, remember what your mother used to tell you (sit up straight, use your knife and fork correctly, don’t eat noisily, drink mineral or sparkling water, don’t eat anything heavy or in a sauce – it could stain. And you’re there to discuss the company and the job, not the quality of the food!)
Making your case and marketing yourself
The most important thing is to know YOURSELF and to be capable of presenting your achievements and showing how you can distinguish yourself from the other candidates. This doesn’t mean reeling off a prepared speech but rather knowing how to make the most of your previous experience in relation to the position being offered. Emphasize your PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS, those you can be proud of and which you can also explain.
Ask yourself this question – What is the difference between one comptroller and another? If you yourself had to hire a financial analyst/accountant, on what criteria would you base your decision?
Knowing how to finish
It’s time to say goodbye: generally your interviewer will ask if you have any OTHER questions. You may have one or two (on a succession of events for example) but don’t return to matters which have already been discussed and don’t try to re-open the discussion. Thank your interviewers for their time, shake hands and leave. (When you get home, don’t forget to send a short email to say thank-you and/or provide additional information if necessary).