For those of you familiar with Game of Thrones, you will be aware of the episode that projected one simple phrase into infamy. Yes, “hold the door” struck a chord with fans and the seemingly innocuous phrase will never again hold the same meaning. However for me, it struck a different chord and reminded me of a recent conversation with a colleague. My colleague was rushing to the elevator for an interview when annoyingly; the person in front of her didn’t hold the door.
To her surprise, this person happened to be her next interview and needless to say it didn’t set the candidate off to a good start! Don’t make that same mistake, there are a number of little things you can do that will help you along in an interview, and most of them require little to no preparation.
Hold the door
As previously mentioned, you simply don’t know who could be the next person to jump into that elevator. Holding the door shows that you are courteous, and willing to help others out. You never know, you could be in the elevator with your interviewer or your future boss, who I’m sure will appreciate the small gesture. Apart from anything, holding the door for the next person is common courtesy.
Have you ever been sitting in a waiting room for an appointment and as your name is called you must awkwardly pick up your bag, umbrella and whatever else you brought along and quickly follow someone into the next room? Now, imagine you are in an interview situation, and that person is waiting with their hand outstretched for a hand-shake while you’re busy fumbling with your belongings, pretty awkward huh? Bring only the necessities along, and if you must bring multiple items, I would suggest standing while you wait, or at least organising yourself for an easy pick up so you are ready for that all-important handshake.
Be friendly to the receptionist
Many receptionists are often the gatekeepers of their organisation, so how you treat them is very telling. Be polite, friendly and most importantly know the name of the person you are meeting with. The receptionist often reports back to hiring managers on the candidates so make sure you leave a good impression. Sometimes this can tell a lot about a person and how they align with a company culture. If they are the type of organisation that is open, inclusive and social, that fact that you were kind to the receptionist will certainly earn you extra points.
Double check your phone is on silent
I can’t emphasise this point enough, please switch your phone to silent or turn it off before the interview. I know this one sounds obvious, but it still surprises me how often a candidate’s phone goes off during an interview. Even if you think it’s on silent, double check to be certain. If your phone does happen to go off during the interview, just apologise politely and switch it off. It is does you no favours by trying to ignore the beeping phone, its distracting for the both of us and it is better to acknowledge it and move on.
Don’t arrive too early
Everyone knows the importance of being punctual, but turning up to an interview 40 minutes early can sometimes be just as bad as turning up a few minutes late. Firstly, many recruiters and hiring managers have tight schedules to keep, turning up too early for an interview puts pressure on them to see you and may disrupt their schedule. Secondly, if they aren’t available to see you, then you may be left waiting in reception for those 40 minutes, which generally isn’t a place you can feel comfortable and order your thoughts before going in for an interview. If you do happen to arrive early, grab a coffee at a nearby café, or go for a quick walk around the block. If these options don’t appeal and you absolutely feel the need to turn up early, give reception a call ahead of time and ask if they are available to see you, it shows them that you’re considerate and you respect their time. For the record, I think it is best to arrive ten minutes early.
Smile, make eye contact and don’t read off your resume
Again, this sounds obvious but in a stressful interview situation, so many candidates forget to smile and make eye contact. I’m not suggesting you start a staring contest with your potential boss, but make an effort to look them in the eye when you’re answering a question. When you’re nervous, it can be tempting to let your eyes wander around the room or to look back to your resume. You will come across as more engaged if you smile and look them in the eye when answering. While we’re discussing resumes, please know your resume, nothing damages your credibility like having to refer back to your resume to get an answer.
Relax and be yourself
I want to get to know the real you, so don’t be afraid to be yourself. No interviewer ever walks into an interview to scare the candidate; in fact I want you to do well! I want to like you, to believe that you’re a good fit for the role and a good fit for the team. Getting the culture fit right is an important factor for many companies, so they want to make sure they are going to make the right hire. Likewise, I would hate to place someone in a role or a team that is totally unsuitable for their personality. I want all my candidates to love going to work and love what they do so next time you’re in an interview relax and be yourself!
Finally, I know these tips are simple and will help you some of the way, but nothing can replace thorough preparation. Doing your research on the company, asking insightful questions and preparing some answers to likely interview questions will certainly go much further in helping you nail your next interview.