11 Feb 15 Interview Tips
That’s it. You’ve had enough. That relationship was bringing you down and it’s time to move on. You’re back on the market and ready to meet new people who can help you live a happier and more fulfilling life, and give you the support, praise and acknowledgement you deserve.
But wait… are you talking about your career or your romantic life?
With Valentines Day right around the corner, lots of people have dating dilemmas on the brain, but you’d be surprised how many of these crop up in the process of job-searching, interviewing and accepting an offer.
Working in recruitment makes these parallels poignantly clear. When I worked as a recruiter I often felt like 'Hitch’. Apart from being female and matchmaking professional relationships, the service I provided to my candidates was surprisingly similar to what Hitch offered self-conscious single men who wanted to be better at the dating game.
As well as offering practical advice and insight on the role, company and market, I offered tips and tricks to help them win over their interviewer and was there for moral support and emergency pep talks all the way.
So is it a bad thing that job-searching is a bit like dating?
Well, it does means that a lot of emotions can get wrapped up in your job-search and sometimes this can make it difficult to make sound judgments that will benefit your long-term career.
But on the other hand, it means that you could become awesomely good at both. You could become the most charismatic and lovable job-seeker out there with the highest chance of landing the job of your dreams AND a better date.
So how can you get there? Here are 11 tips that will help you make your romantic and professional dreams come true.
How many couples out there met through friends of friends? Your social circles can be a great network to tap into when on the hunt for a new job, too.
A casual conversation at a party might actually turn into a lucrative professional opportunity, so don't be shy to ask friends and contacts about potential openings within their companies or industries when you're on the hunt. A personal recommendation from one of your contacts may be the push you need to get your foot in the door.
Networking events are also excellent opportunities to meet potential employers, mentors or friends who can help you find that next golden opportunity. Remember that around 80% of jobs aren't posted online so networking can open doors that you wouldn’t find through a standard job-search using online job boards.
Most of us have a mental checklist of things we’d look for in a partner – sense of humour, etc. – so why not do the same for a potential employer?
There’s no point chasing after every single job vacancy you come across – you don’t want to look (and feel) desperate; you could become overwhelmed if you’re avalanched with interview invitations; and you’ll need to be able to explain to each why you’re interested in them specifically.
We’ve become conditioned to see a person’s outfit as a reflection of who they are, how they esteem the occasion and what they think of their company. Although the interpretation can be completely off the mark, it’s still in your interest to put some thought and effort into your appearance for the big day.
Ideally, your outfit should reflect your unique personality, demonstrate that you’re taking the moment seriously, boost your confidence, and indicate compatibility with whomever you’re meeting.
This works the other way. I have spoken to so many people – particularly graduates – who lamented the fact that they picked the company with the ultra modern office and awards, instead of the one where they instantly clicked with the team and the culture. Which brings me to my next point…
As in any relationship, chemistry should come first and foremost. If you’re attracted to the looks of someone or the promises they make, but don’t click with their personality and values, it’s probably not going to work out.
There are plenty of companies that mask a poor work culture by investing in sleek offices in premium locations, paying to be nominated for awards, and even ‘training’ their employees to answer the questions so they have a better chance of winning. Don’t be fooled by this; look at what lies below the glittery surface - does the culture and team dynamic make your heart skip too?
I know, it can be so tempting to badmouth to talk about your ‘ex’ during a date or an interview – especially if someone asks you about the relationship - but just don’t do it!
If you have to talk about your 'ex', try and focus on the positives - ie. how the experience made you grow and develop, what you learnt about yourself, why you now have a clearer sense of what you want, etc.
How many times have you chatted with your closest friend after a date to talk about how it went and your thoughts on seeing them again? How many times have you asked a friend to be a wingman or wingwoman so you wouldn't have to be alone at the bar?
Alright, I may be biased,but having a great recruiter on your side makes your job-search a significantly more pleasant experience and give you an edge over your competitors. Recruiters can be advisors, friends, mentors and agony aunts whenever you need them.
They can offer valuable advice, especially if they have a strong relationship with the hiring manager / client; they can be there when you need to outlet all your self-doubt and worries, and then give you a kick-ass confidence-boosting pep talk; they can meet you before or after the interview if you're particularly nervous, and they'll be there to take you out for a celebratory drink when you've landed the job of your dreams. If you can't find a recruiter who can do this for you, find a friend, mentor or relative who can be there for you throughout the ups and downs.
And keep looking for a great recruiter, obviously.
The ability to tell compelling stories is a skill that can surprising make or break your interview (or date).
Even if you don’t perfectly match the job requirements, or if you accidentally spilt coffee on your shirt on the way to the interview, you can still be a fantastic interviewee if you can tell great stories to highlight your personality and strengths whilst building chemistry.
Whereas stories on a date tend to focus on travel, food, family and personal interests, in an interview setting these should be examples of past professional and educational achievements that relate to the role you’re interviewing. Most interviewers love stories - they want to hear about your career journey and how you came to be sitting across from them. So if you know a great story will make them sit up and lean in, why not incorporate this to your interview preparation?
People often fall into ‘bad relationships’ because they have low self-esteem.
Look through your CV and think about those achievements you’ve made over the years (and if they aren’t outlined on your CV put them on there!). Remember that you have a lot to offer. You deserve to be happy in your work environment, supported and appreciated by your colleagues, and appropriately remunerated. If you don’t know what’s out there – do some research! Don’t just settle for the same types of companies and professional relationships you’ve had before.
On the flip side, you will probably need to be flexible on some of the points on your wish-list. Think about where you’re willing to compromise and what would be a deal-breaker for you.
If you walked out of an interview or a date grinning ear-to-ear, feeling like you really clicked and had a great time – send a quick note to let the person know! Chances are they feel the same and will be touched that you wrote to them right away. This gesture will also strengthen rapport whilst suggesting how thoughtful, confident and proactive you are.
Most of us have felt the temptation to rush into a relationship without giving some pause for thought. It’s so reassuring to know someone wants you and that you don’t have to worry about finding and impressing anyone anymore.
However, the chances of having a long-term, happy and healthy relationship will be dramatically improved if you accept because it is genuinely the right step forward for you. Whether you have other offers on the table or not, you should only commit to something after you’ve considered whether it aligns with what your values and aspirations, whether you’re happy to make the compromises that are required, and whether it will make you happy and able to grow and develop.
Of course, as life and pretty much all rom-coms have taught us the best thing to do when dating or job-searching is to be yourself. An interviewer or a date will be far more drawn to someone who is genuine with a vibrant personality, rather than someone who is obviously pretending to be like someone else.
At the end of the day, interviews and dates are both designed to gauge the same thing: Can I see myself spending time with this person? Would spending every day with this person drive me nuts, or would it be a happy, productive and mutually-motivating partnership? It’s much more likely you will have a good long-term relationship is if both parties are being themselves and can answer yes to that question without hesitation.
Of course there are very obvious reasons why interviews are not like dates, and for good reason. But by thinking about these 11 points when looking for a romantic partner or your next role we hope you'll feel happier and more confident, knowing that you'll ultimately find the right match for you.
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