Wednesday 12 September 2012

How do I conduct an interview?

The best interviews I have conducted (there have been may) are with people who come across as having a certain ease with themselves. Open but reserved, confident yet still humble, honest and sincere. Focused yet undeterred. Finally slightly inquisitive, humorous and ultimately interested. There is a great uplift in creating a two way conversation with two interested individuals. I sometimes would walk away impressed with the person in mind for days to come.

Assuming you are sitting in front of an experienced interviewer for a position you are clearly interested in and for the right reasons, first impressions count enormously. It goes without saying that it is important to arrive on time. It is essential to dress appropriately or be in proper business attire suitable for the occasion. Introduce yourself formally with a firm yet gentle handshake.  Sit down when offered to be seated - not before! The task of the interviewer is to find out about you, the type of person that you are, your strengths and your weaknesses. He or she is there to find out if you have a focus, that you are balanced in personality and solid in character and to see if you can really add or contribute and ultimately fit to the needs of the company. The chemistry is vital to see if you get on with each other. This is very important especially if you happen to be talking with your potential boss or team members.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? This is one of the most common questions an interviewer will ask you. In my view it is in fact such a crucial question because it is really there to find out if you have found a purpose in life and to see how well you know yourself. Many candidates struggle to answer this question as they have not spent enough time knowing their own aspirations and ambitions and afraid that what they say may hamper their chances in getting the position on offer. (This can be the same when talking about your weaknesses.) Naturally unforeseen circumstances may limit your aspirations in the future but that should not deter you in answering this question.
I would therefore advise any candidate to work in getting an understanding of themselves to have a peace of mind before sitting down in front of an interview. What does not work is if a candidate is unsure of himself, comes across as slightly desperate and not being oneself. Fear is a crucial obstacle we all face as human beings but needs to be dealt with from within. Sweaty hands, play acting, fidgety, rambling and not allowing the other person to speak is really bad. Incidentally there is nothing wrong with being slightly nervous as we are after all only human.
A good interviewer will sense whether the candidate is sincere or not.  That is why it is so important, to know yourself well. To be able describe your weaknesses with ease and your areas where you can improve. It is important to have a focus, and to know your own talents.  To be able to show a fine balance between your own confidence and humility and not over sell yourself. It is essential that you have done your research about the company and therefore have some good questions to ask the interviewer about the position, the culture of the company, and the strategy of the business for example. As it goes both ways the candidate has to feel comfortable with the company and the job. It is important that if you are interested to make the interviewer feel that you are. Again this must sound subtle yet sincere. Show also that you have a bit of humour that in fact that not only do you contribute to the companies needs but you are also potentially positive to have around.
‘Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee and we’ll ascend together’
Quaker Proverb

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