The 7 Deadly Sins of Interviewing
Last updated: 20/08/2007 06:20:49
In these days of high technology, of psychometric tests and assessment centres, of sophisticated websites and video technology, it is tempting to think that recruitment is so scientific, so precise that it can all be done at third hand or on paper.
Business continues to be all about people, however, and their relationships with each other. The interview remains common to all recruitment processes. It is still the best way to decide, to put it bluntly, whether people like each other.

Forget technique and interview practice, so long as you stick to some basic principles, and do not commit one of the deadly sins of interviews you are likely to be fine. Only a deadly sin can disqualify you from a job that you should have secured.

Number 1

Like any other business meeting, preparation is essential - lack of it is the first deadly sin. I would expect any candidate to have a good idea of the size of the business, who it is owned by and the scope of the job required, especially if it is a promotion or a new job function.

Much more can be done besides - for dealerships it is not difficult to research the fortunes of their franchise, the model range and the type of image they wish to project. Ask them to send you as many details as possible beforehand, even if it is just in the way of a company brochure.

Number 2

Don't commit deadly sin number two, pay particular attention to your personal appearance. Yes it really does matter but do not overdo it. Like so many things in recruitment it is its negative effect that is important. Too overpowering with lots of aftershave, gold jewellery, hair lacquer and an immaculate appearance will put many people off.

Scruffy shoes, bad breath ( a sure fire route to room 101) and that "dragged through the hedge backwards" look will simply say that you could not be bothered to make the effort. No candidate, male or female, will ever be penalised for a sensible, middle of the road suit, clean shoes and a genuinely professional and business like appearance.

Number 3

Sin three - NEVER, NEVER be late, or more than 15 minutes early. Plan to be in the area at least half an hour before and hang around - give yourself time to get your thoughts together. If the unthinkable happens and you are going to be late, telephone in advance, giving them time to re-arrange their schedule if necessary. This is essential even if it delays you slightly more.

Number 4

Once you have arrived on time and have introduced yourself - firm handshake, confident voice, good eye contact (Sin four, you never get a second chance to make a first impression) - establish the ground rules. How long will the meeting last? How do you address the interviewer? What will the next stage be if you are successful?

Number 5

Once you start answering questions, now is the time to get professional. Knowing how long you have got will tell you how much depth is required. Many people cannot help talking. They try to justify their answer or to justify previous actions. They never stop. That is deadly sin five.

Do not be one of them. Any sensible interviewer not getting enough detail, will ask you for more. It is much more disruptive to stop you in mid stream and to steer you onto another subject. If they are good they will do so, if not they may allow you to dig a very deep hole for yourself. Listen carefully and answer the questions clearly and concisely.

State clearly your achievements, but steer clear of generalities and talk about specifics. For instance, if you have increased market penetration then say by how much. Going from 10% to 20% is impressive, but they will never know if you keep silent. Quantify your answers.

Number 6

Sin six means that you do not just talk about yourself. Treat the conversation as a two-way affair, find out as much about the company as they are trying to find out from you. The conversation is likely to be more lively, more interesting and, if you are asking sensible, pertinent questions, more flattering to them. Everybody likes people who are interested in their business.

Number 7

When your allotted time has finished, do not be tempted into sin seven, grabbing a few extra minutes by over-running, unless invited to do so. There is nothing more irritating than trying to stop somebody in mid-flow who is determined to carry on. They won't invite you back in case you do it again.

Any interview is about communication, about good listening as well as good talking. In today's competitive job market, everyone is trying to make the perfect sales pitch. Those seriously trying to explore proper career opportunities will stand out. They are likely to be the ones who are attractive to prospective employers.

Don't be too virtuous either

One final point, do not be afraid to disagree if an interviewer says something which you believe is clearly wrong. This is not a sin, it may be done to test you out. After all, if you do disagree fundamentally, find out now rather than after you have started work. Reasoned argument and persuasion is what business is all about. Do not be afraid to pursue it in an interview situation.

An interview is an artificial situation. Approach it in the right way, avoid these seven deadly sins and you will have as good a chance as any, especially if you are the right person for the job. Good luck.
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