Have You Been Called For That Interview?
If there’s one thing that’s bound to give you the jitters (besides being the guy that’s planning to propose to a beautiful girl), it’s being called for an interview. Maybe it’s because the outcome is either a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’, ‘WAIT’ is only for prayers. Even worse, when the interview is for a job role in an organization that you really want to work for. You don’t want to mess this up.
What do you do when you’re called for an interview? I am not a Human Resource (HR) expert. Heck, the little I know about HR is what I learnt in school as part of my course work, and a lot of cramming was done then. There was way too much theory and too many points to remember. Please note, that even through all that course work, no one ever prepares you for an interview. Because when you step into that room, it’s you against the world. The interviewers at that point look like monsters baying for your blood (forgive me, but I’m speaking from this other side of the table). I’ve been on both.
I’ve been to a couple of interviews myself, as the interviewee. Some I was told NO, others I was offered a raw deal (equivalent to WAIT), while others, I was told YES. The thing I liked about the interviews is that I got the exposure. I got to understand the general things you need to know about interviews, because humans are the same everywhere. Everyone is interested about that little piece of information – You, and what You can bring to the table. That’s just about it!
That will get me in to what you need to do when you’re called for an interview. The least you can do is know yourself, and then, know what you want. It’s would be bad enough not knowing yourself, but what would be worse, is not knowing what brought you there. I mean, seriously?
Prepare in advance for the interview. Research for the job role and know what is expected of you. So that whatever you say in the interview is in line with what is expected of you, don’t sell yourself short, or worse, go off on a tangent. They smell that from afar, and you will be judged in the first few minutes. Go through your CV (resume), again know yourself, your history, your experience. It’s your gateway. Also, carry your necessary documents in a nice folder (some organisations ask for them).
Always look the part. You may not have the Louboutin shoes or designer suits, but even with your local Bata shoes, and suits from the exhibitions, you can still look like a million bucks. Make sure your nails are well cut, your hair is neat and that you smell fresh. Good grooming shows that you care and respect yourself. Which in a deeper sense also means that if you can take some time to ensure that you’re presentable, then you can be trusted to do the same with the organization.
Get there early. I know there are valid excuses like traffic, or you tripped into a puddle and had to go back home and have a change of clothes. But if you left early enough you’d have your bases covered. If it’s that bad, call the interviewer early enough to let them know of your situation, but not 2 mins to the appointment. You’ll have cut it a little too close and that will make it look staged, even if it isn’t. Just think about it, wouldn’t you think so too? Early will always look good on you, it gives you some mileage.
When you get there, keep calm. Most of the time, as you’re sitting there waiting for the interview, you’ll probably have other interviewees there with you, strike a conversation with them. It will keep your mind off this big elephant in the room, and it will put you at ease. On the other hand, if you’re alone, don’t get fidgety; like unleash a file of short notes that you peruse through before you get into the interview. It makes you look unprepared, or like you don’t have your shit together. Remember, it’s not an exam, it’s an interview. They want to get to know you and what you can do – what about you brings value to the organization (technical skills) and does your personality (soft skills) match this role.
Even if you don’t know your facts, at least know the fiction. You don’t have to have the exact numbers, but of course you’re better off when you do. You can always use estimates. You can always explain it the way you understand it, it doesn’t have to be the book definition. You’ve done it, say it. You can do it, say it. You think it and it absolutely makes sense, say it. You feel like you’re not too good at it but it’s something you can grasp with time, say it. If you don’t know, this is a difficult one, but don’t say you don’t know, be smart about it. Basically, don’t go dark! Because no one wants dark. Everyone wants to work with someone with personality, someone who can speak their mind, someone who can skim their way through things, someone who is proactive, but mostly, someone who put’s their money where their mouth is.
When you walk in, when you seat, when you speak, exude confidence. If you’re shaking anyone’s hand, do it like you mean it. Don’t do the finger shake, let your thumbs lock. If you’re speaking, don’t whisper, speak up, so that the person at the far corner of the room can hear you. If you’re responding to someone, maintain eye contact, don’t look down. If you know your hands can get in the way of things, place them on the table and keep them calm. It’s the small things that show that you believe in yourself, and in turn making them believe and trust that you’re a capable candidate.
Listen to question before you answer. And when you don’t understand it, feel free to request for it once again. And if it just doesn’t make sense, ask them to rephrase it. You’re better off doing that than going on to answer your own things, and having a face palm moment when someone clears their throat and says, “I don’t think you understood me clearly, what I meant to ask you is…” yet you knew for sure you’re just cooking up your answer.
When they ask you about the salary and how much you want to be paid – please have thought about it before or find out what they pay people in such a role either in that organisation or even another, use your network. Of course it also needs to be more than what you’re currently earning, if you already are. It’s a standard question at the end of the interview, so don’t act surprised. They want to know what this awesome person is worth. Though in essence no one can afford you, just play along.
When it’s over and they ask you to ask a question, PLEASE ASK A QUESTION. Ask anything for all it’s worth. But please make yourself look smart, like a curious being. Show interest in the culture, performance, growth trajectory of the organization or even when they get back to you after the interview, because it will directly affect you if that’s the place you end up working.
I learnt not to be scared of interviews, because what’s the worst that could happen? A yes or a no? As long as you play your part right, it’s up to them. If you get a yes, go you! If you get a no, don’t fret, they weren’t the one for you anyway. Or we can cue, Katy Perry – The One That Got Away. Give yourself a pat on the back, keep applying, because your job is well on its way. Or start a business and become an employer 🙂
All the best to anyone going for an interview, you got this!
signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*