Because we all have to eat, unfortunately we have to get jobs which means we have to convince people you do not know to pay you to do stuff cause you do it better than all the other people that showed up the same day.
(Spoiler alert : I find this procedure completely demeaning, phony and idiotic and in the end of this piece you will find a link of what I think SHOULD be the process in order to minimize the chances of hiring someone that looks good, wears a crisp pantsuit, has a footlong resume but will set your desk on fire when you pressure them for a deadline. But let’s take it one step at a time)
When you’re going for a job, you are basically selling yourself as described above – I’m the best, forget the rest. In order to do so successfully, the key word is confidence.
No matter if you’re the type that wakes up and kisses the mirror every day or the type that you disposed of the mirrors when you moved in, there is always a way to appear confident without stretching your comfort zone (a lot). Starting with…
Sense the tone of the company for this, including makeup and jewellery. Keep it as simple and professional as necessary. If you are a yoga teacher, yoga pants were (literally) made for this, if you are an investment banker, not so much. Also, if you audition for a burlesque performer, professional means 50 shades of glitter and we know it.
Long story short, the kind of clothes you will be wearing are debatable, but their cleanliness is not. Freshly washed is mandatory, no matter if you are a person that does not sweat, as most people can see the difference between worn clothing and fresh ones. Avoid never worn, and fitting room worn does not count as you don’t know if your new pair of pants will ride low enough for flash photography if you sit on a very low chair.
Ideally, buy the clothes a week before the interview, wear them twice outside, wash them the night before (two nights if you do not have a dryer) and wear them fresh to go to your interview. That does not apply to shoes, as the more worn the better, just enough to not look scruffy.
Learn from my mistakes; once for a very important interview I wore a pair of shoes that I had just given a test drive and they were about good enough, only to discover that due to the abysmal cold my feet shrunk and they were slipping out that day. Long story short, took me three times as much to walk with a limp from the bus stop to the office, I was nearly late and arrived flustered and disoriented. Never again.
Bonus track: do not wear perfume. If you have to, just one ‘pssst’ is enough. You have no idea how many people are smell sensitive, I myself get nauseated by strong perfumes and the latest trends in the business do not do me any favors in those early morning rides to work. (I start to believe this is the today’s version of morning sickness). Plus there are people out there that are actually allergic to some perfume components – so avoid.
- Speak slowly
Fact is, most people speak too fast for comfort, and they just rely on people who know them to understand. Well, that’s a bit too much to ask from people that see you for the first time and look for an excuse NOT to see you again. So, take it down a notch. Keep your sentences as small as possible, breathe long enough when you pause for a comma, enunciate, and make sure no matter how enthusiastic you are, to keep your tone at a medium level. Trust me, you might think you sound like a moron, but since our brains register our voices more high pitched and annoying than they actually are, have a friend test you and you’ll see you’re good to go. Plus, what feels super slow to you, is most certainly faster than you think and does not make you sound like The Rain Man.
- Do your homework
I feel like I shouldn’t even be saying this, but you’d be surprised. The first step to this is reading the ad carefully; read between the words, look for hidden meanings and for heaven’s sake, Google unknown acronyms. If you heard about the job from a friend, ask them for any relevant email they have and/or the company’s website and read it through very carefully.
Speaking of, that would be step two and Google will be your friend again. Try to find as much as you can about the company before you go in there, not only to look confident for your interviewers but to make sure you will be a good fit; sites like Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com offer a lot of reviews based on salary and position, and they are the next best thing to having an actual acquaintance from the company (plus I always find a lot of anonymous opinions more reliable than a potentially biased personal one).
When you have that in your pocket, try to combine it with your previous work experience in order to show how you would be good at it or learning how to do it and final four, do not hesitate to say no when ask. Avoid it at first, try paraphrasing a bit, but if you really do not have a clue say something along the lines of “I have not used this module yet, but I have heard about it and looking forward to practice it” and pray this applies to the case. Although to be totally honest, if more than one question is about a trick that you do not have up your sleeve, maybe that position would not be ideal for you anyway.
- Hold your horses
This one again is a no brainer but again, you’d be surprised. The husky gentleman who hires the goofy eyed brunette with the outdated blazer and the messy hair only exists in (bad) movies and (worse) sitcoms. In real life most interviewers are idle sharks, looking for the most amusing parrot fish.
You need to be firm and professional, with a good firm handshake and an icy demeanor. Limit the jokes to maximum one and British style, sit up straight, scan the room as vigilance might come in handy (you never know which potted plant was there to test you) and keep references to your personal life or stories for your journal, no matter how relevant they might sound – best case scenario is you get hired and your boss keeps calling you “Abominable Snowman” as a reference to your brilliant icebreaker about the avalanche you caused at your first (and last) time skiing.
Fun fact : in my first job I used this every day
As far the physical aspect is concerned, do not let yourself loose. Sit up straight, stare at your interviewer’s eyes or nose if you’re too nervous (they will not be able to tell the difference) and fight any urge to fidget play with your hair etc. The look you are trying to optimise, as mentioned above, is cool calm and collected.
All of this might require again some practice but you need it; you are not going there to have fun, and if you did then something was wrong – or you are Ozzy Osborne, and if you are man, the Osbornes was a mistake but I love your book and I’m so psyched that you’re still alive and reading us!
All that being said, I still find the procedure ridiculous and a waste of time, as no one can be their best self with the clock ticking. But we do have to earn the bread on the table so we have to go through that again, and again, and again (and again). Final note as promised a glimpse into the future from a modern day genius, aka “Why forgetting interviews and cover letters may get you your best hire yet“.
And that’s that folks. Happy interviewing!