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Interview Tips - Reminders and warnings

This article deals with interview tips - the more general arts of conducting yourself at the interview.

Interview Tip 1: Be polite and manage your nerves

No power on earth can prevent you feeling what you feel but if you have a framework of good manners, if you look good and are well-prepared, if you know how to behave and have practiced this situation, then all you need do to manage your physical and emotional feelings is to….
  • calm yourself down a little, by breathing a little more deeply and getting your attention off your mind, through your body and out into the room
  • consciously slow your speech and deepen voice tone early in the interview at the more formal part; you can lighten up later when rapport has been established
  • follow their lead on matters of etiquette; don't rush into your coffee; be sure to acknowledge everyone in the room; no need to be obsequious
Interview Tip 2: Be prepared and stay professional

Depending on the skill of the interviewer(s) the warm up period may be just passing time and you may get some trivial but unexpected questions. As things proceed there could be any number of interviewing styles deployed and whatever happens your best strategy is to remain resolutely the professional that you are.
  • be ready for relative trivia like 'what's your idea of a great weekend" or unexpected openers: 'why do you like the look of this job"
  • prepare answers to any trick questions you could think of, things like 'why do you want to leave your present job" and 'what are your worst weaknesses"
  • respond with questions of your own, based on the research you have done in advance, giving them a chance to talk about the company
  • in moments of temporary confusion you can ask them what is behind a particular question, 'could you clarify what you'd like to learn here"
  • aggressive interviewers are probably just acting and looking for your response; staying calm and professional will impress them the most and if they really do try to belittle you take the initiative with a counter question of your own
  • watch out for really indulgent interviewers who encourage your negative traits and give you enough rope to hang yourself; never start swearing, criticising or giving away secrets of your present employer
  • ALWAYS stay with this truth: it is not the question that matters, nor is it your answer; it is what is behind the question and what the answer reveals about you
  • do not try out any manipulation techniques you have learned in sales training or elsewhere; many interviewers have been trained to notice and counter these and some organizations will immediately reject you
Interview Tip 3: Leave a positive final impression

The way you say goodbye can leave a good impression for when they talk about you afterwards. Make sure that your handshake and smile are really warm and say something about how stimulating you found the interview. I might briefly try to gauge their feeling by asking what happens next (without being at all pushy).

If in these final words you can include some brilliant phrase that summarizes the path of the interview, again without leaning too hard on their patience, then that would be in your favour too. Maybe something such as 'I really like your plan for the new product roll-out strategy; it's just the kind of thing I have been working towards in the last two years…" They might, after you leave, be scoring the interview to help them distinguish each candidate; a memorable moment or comment helps them to do that - and it doesn't have to be spectacular.

Interview Tip 4: You do not need to send 'Thank You Letters'

In a world of automation and sophistication when you are dealing with trained, experienced and professional recruiters - it is dumb to believe that you will actually persuade them to select you instead of a better candidate simply because you have good manners.

If you are close to being recruited, you might just make the judgement call that a letter to jog their memory would be useful and show strength of interest. If so, send it by email and keep it incredibly brief.

Fix on some aspect of the interview itself and remind them of it in a professional way that is barely obvious at all; say something like:
"I was particularly interested in the XYZ project and my mind has been racing with further questions about the implications for the ABCD role…"
or
"What impressed me was the obvious commitment within the organization to XYZ development and the more I though about this the more I saw an inspiring match with my own career goals (and the more I uncovered questions it is too late to ask!). If time permits, perhaps we could have a very brief discussion along those lines, by telephone if that suits you…"

Once again, this is high risk and needs to be subtle. If you feel you must communicate and you aren't sure what to say, keep it polite and just say thanks, you enjoyed the experience and you are interested. If you have a handle on the scenario, take it a little further.

You do not have to do this, so don't prejudice your chances with something lame.
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