Be the Best You Can: Interview Weirdness
Getting a job is like having a job, it is a full time occupation during which you have to try to be the best you can, and this should never be underestimated. In order to get what you want, you have to stay committed and engaged, whilst making a huge contribution of time and effort. Things don’t often happen overnight, unless of course you are super lucky.
One of the main hurdle’s in the current job market is the competition is fierce so it’s often necessary not just to be the best you can but also savvy about where it is you’re applying to. A lot of companies are hiring from within, yet advertising a role because they have a legal obligation to do so. Or, a job is put out on the wires and for budgetary reasons the role never materialises. It is best to have an expectation of what you would like, with whom and in which location, in the knowledge that things are very fluid, and the best way forward is, to keep an open mind.
What you can do, is keep your eye on the prize and apply yourself to what it is you realistically need at this moment in time. Rather than opting for what you think you should be doing, or worse still being governed by your peers and judging yourself against others, as this will always lead to disappointment.
Plan and Execute
This does not mean you sell yourself short, far from it, but if you want to be the CEO of a small start-up and need more operational experience then aim for this; start with a clearly defined strategy of how you will reach your end game.
Let’s face it, you would never intentionally plan to be late for an interview, it would be like being late for your own wedding, and we all know that would have a negative impact on all parties. Be the best you can be and turn up on time or even a little early if you have a habit of cutting it close.
Who are we?
Of course you will need to know the company or brand you plan to join, it’s in your interest to make sure they don’t kill animals unfairly, squander company profits on nuclear arms deals, advocate bullying, or make people work with no benefits for less than the minimum wage (which sadly is still true of some unethical businesses today).
Yes, you will have that answer in readiness of why you want to work for this particular organisation. After all you would be stupid not to. Like dating it’s best to at least to show willing and say the right thing in order to move to things to the next level.
Everyone from your primary school teacher, to a parent, to your last employer will have told you that listening is essential. You don’t need to go on a course to discover this for yourself. Not only will you being judged on your shoes, your hair, and the way you sit, you know they will be scrutinising your listening capabilities.
So what is it that is missing? If you know what to do, and how to perform during the recruitment process, why are interviews so daunting? Surely, good manners, experience and a sharp mind is enough to win over any would be future employer.
As in an emergency response, we can never actually predict ‘how’ we are going to respond to an out of comfort zone, situation. During a terror attack we have been taught that best practice is to ‘run, hide, and tell’ but do we really know how the human psyche will perform under duress? In a real situation can we trust will not be paralysed by fear, or not thinking straight? The similarity is that by taking ourselves into the unknown, into a flight for fright situation where the stakes are high, we have no idea what our fear response will be.
Experience has proven the best results are achieved through being calm; meditation practice can help to achieve this, so you remain rational and keep a cool head. Be the best you can be and come across as such whilst trying not to mind read the interviewer. Answering questions with examples of how you have managed the tasks relevant to this role within your previous experience can help shape the story of who you are, and how you relate to this post, this company and these people. Don’t take things too literally, and remember this is a shared experience.
One prospective employer adopted a very conspiratorial tone of voice with me, which later I understood was tactical to put all candidates at ease. I was led by her line of questioning, “frightening huh?!”, “Interviews can be daunting” and then was asked how I felt on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst. In an attempt to tell the truth I proceeded to inform the HR Director (male) and hiring manager (female) how this situation was creating the same level of trepidation for me as having a smear test.
On another occasion, my CV had been passed over by a hiring manager because my current (temping) role did not resonate with the job that was available, even though my previous experience showed I was more than qualified. I escalated this to a senior manager, who very kindly provided a referral and an interview was set.
It was clear to me in this meeting, that the role required someone with less experience than I had, and the ruse about my current title not resonating wasn’t relevant. I felt guilty I had pushed hard to make this work, and actually got on very well with the person I would be reporting to. At the end of our time together there was awkwardness to closing the meeting. So in an attempt to put the hiring manager at ease, I hugged her, she lost her footing in surprise and as she did I found myself lifting her from the ground in an awkward twirl. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.
Getting into the right mind-set to be the best you can be for the awkward and the unnaturalness of interviews are critical to the success rate for getting job offers; after all, we are all fallible. Some jobs require a standard 8 to 10 interview’s so if you are successful in the recruitment process you will get time to shine and minimise any eccentricities of behaviour. However, some jobs only require 1 or 2 rounds of meetings. Not all managers are good at the hiring process but can be great managers. Everyone is a little off kilter and kindness and an ability to look at the bigger picture and appreciate the strengths and good attributes of the people you meet with can go a long way to making successful contacts.
It is not only you that feels the pressure of an unrealistic setting, this is why the more interviews you experience, and the more you practice being at ease within yourself, and let things flow, you will be in a stronger position to be the best you can be and get the role’s you aspire to. Even if, in the end you decide you no longer wish to be the CEO, and have taken a completely alternative path to the one you initially set out to follow.