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Mind your (interview) attitude, manners

Opinion & Analysis
Interview etiquette

ALMOST all people who work (except for two groups of people) will undergo or have undergone a job interview. As a job seeker, an interview would probably be a nerve-wracking experience for you. You may be stressed out, but still, you have to compose yourself and show confidence when presenting yourself for a job interview. The main objective of an interview is to advertise yourself. You have to “sell” yourself effectively to your potential employer and convince them that you are the best person for the position.

What needs to be done before the interview

When it comes to interviews, it is good to “be prepared”. Those to be interviewed should practise interview responses. It’s important to be prepared for the types of questions that an employer will ask. A majority of the questions you will be asked during your interview may be behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions evaluate your past experiences to give the employer a sense of how you might perform in the future. These questions should be answered by crafting specific stories or examples and they should be two to three minutes long highlighting your role in the job.

Arrive early to boost confidence

You should arrive 10-15 minutes before the interview. Be sure to dress appropriately, typically this means business professional or business casual. If you are unsure of what to wear, ask your career consultant or the recruiter you have been working with throughout the process. Bring extra copies of your resume as well as your portfolio or any work samples that are relevant. You should also bring a list of questions you plan to ask the interviewer so that you do not just ask randomly. Arriving 15 minutes early for a job interview is accepted as the golden standard. This will give you enough time to comfortably go through a reception process and be taken to the room where the interview will take place.

Dress well and be positive

Do you know that when you look good, you feel good. Keep this in mind when selecting your interview outfit. Take time to iron your shirt and slacks, polish your shoes, get your hair cut, whatever will make you feel confident walking into the interview room. Knowing you look your best may improve how you feel. Please also note that going into the interview with a positive image of yourself will help you to convey a confident attitude to the employer. If you go into an interview thinking that you will not get the job, or that you will get hired and be miserable, it will be hard for you to convince the employer otherwise. Before you walk into the employer’s office, take a few minutes to remember a time when you were successful.

Manage distractions during an interview

Another pretty obvious fundamental of interview etiquette, but you will be surprised how many candidates ignore it, is turning off your mobile devices. Distractions can mess up an interview if not handled well. When we bring our device to the interview, make sure it does not interrupt the interview process. You should rather mute or put the device on silent especially on notification sounds. I have been involved in an interview where a candidate answered her phone twice. It showed a total lack of respect for my time.

Focus on posture and body language

Ideally, your posture during an interview should convey that you are confident and assertive yet also relaxed and a team player. Posture is an important non-verbal form of communication that conveys how you feel about yourself. If you slouch, avoid eye contact or turning your body away from the interviewer, you may come across as apathetic or lacking in confidence. Keep your head up and your shoulders back but relaxed. When you sit, choose a position ideal for making eye contact. During the interview, lean slightly forwards when the interviewer speaks to show you are listening. This posture will make you appear confident even before you say a word. Non-verbal cues become part of a hiring manager’s overall impression of you. In an interview setting, it’s crucial to be aware of your body language in addition to what you say.

Listen carefully to the interviewer and tell the truth

Be sure you understand the question; if not, ask for clarification, or restate it in your own words. Answer completely and concisely. Stick to the subject at hand. Listen carefully to the interviewer. Employers are interested in candidates who can express themselves properly. Even if you have to go slowly and correct yourself, accuracy is preferred over ungrammatical fluency. Be sure you understand the question.

Connect your past experiences to the job

Throughout your interview, try to connect your experiences and skills to the job you are being interviewed for. The goal of the interview is to show the employer that you are qualified for the role. Before your interview, read the job description carefully and think about what experiences or skills you might want to highlight. The key is to make connections throughout the entire interview. Even if you do not have a particular skill, you can show employers that you are eager to learn. Make sure you speak confidently about any relevant experiences you've had in the workplace, in the classroom or in your personal life, for example as part of a volunteering engagement. Prepare and practise your pitch beforehand. Who are you? What can you bring to the company you want to join?

Show gratitude

There is almost always one last thing to say, after the interview and it’s thank you!. At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet. Say that you look forward to hearing from them soon. Within 24 hours of your interview, send a follow-up letter thanking them again for the interview. You can send this letter via email  and in your note highlight a few things you discussed during the interview. Reiterate that you are interested in the position and are the right fit for the job.

Emmanuel Zvada is an award-winning global HR practitioner and the managing consultant for 3rdeye Africa Consulting Group Zimbabwe and Namibia. For comments inbox or call +263771467441

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