Archives for posts with tag: Job interview

ImageAlongside the work I do with my lovely wife as part of Miller & Miller Consulting Ltd (check out our website for more information on the services we offer), I have been keeping an eye out on the job scene and applying my standard career development approach: applying for anything that looks interesting, challenging, and that I feel I could convince the recruiter and myself that I could do!

It was following this approach that I came across and applied for a role that I felt I had the skills set to be able to succeed in, though not necessarily all the desired experience. It looked like a really interesting and definitely a very challenging role!

So I thought “what the heck?!” and put in an application, thinking no more of it. Not long afterwards, I got a call to tell me that I had been short listed. I was a bit amazed, I have to tell you! But delighted as well, of course, so I set about preparing for the mammoth recruitment day. 

It was a bit like the Krypton Factor – the only test missing was the obstacle course! (Suggestion: don’t actually make that joke to your prospective employer, I got blank looks!) We had to lead two group activities, attend a couple of meetings, prepare for and deliver a case study interview, go on a tour of the site and, finally, have an interview. Phew!

During the day, I got to know the other 4 short listed candidates and was filled with ever increasing trepidation. They were all at least 15 years older than I, with more than double the work experience, and most of them had extensive experience in the job in question, or something very like it, or at least the appropriate sector. Uh oh. 

You know those property TV programmes where a couple go on and say “we’d like to buy a 3 bedroom house, with a large garden, in the middle of a (specific) town, and our budget is £x”? And then the hosts choose them 2 or 3 houses that meet that criteria at least more or less and take them to see them?

And then there’s always one “wildcard” property they chuck in at the end to try to sway them or show them other options if they’re willing to bend on some (or all!) of their criteria? And that wildcard is usually a barge moored up somewhere 50miles from their target area, no garden, no room to swing a cat, but COME ON! It’s a BARGE ferchrissakes! The whole countryside is your back garden!?

Well, that was me. 4 well-proportioned, mock Tudor, detached properties in suburbia with large gardens, off road parking and room for a pony. And me – a houseboat. 

Ah well, I thought, nothing to lose here but your dignity! Give yourself a talking to, pretend you’re confident, look everyone in the eye, and just give it your best shot. It’ll be great experience, if nothing else, but only if you try your hardest. 

So, with my loins duly girded, I carried on throughout the day, and – amazingly enough – made it through the whole process without making too much of a fool of myself. Hurrah! A success, and I could go home happy.

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ImageToday was the day of the dreaded job interview. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love talking about myself as much as the next person. Probably more. Unless, of course, the next person is Katie Price. I do have some limits.

But there’s something about the enforced formality of the situation that gets my blood pressure on the rise. Perhaps it’s the fact that the pressure is on to apply the brain filter for a whole hour, pretend to be a proper grown up and not blurt out ridiculous stories about my school days and spending time at the local swimming pool, which had a wave machine. Not that I actually managed to avoid those particular topics today, but you get the idea.

Obviously the primary nerve-inducing element of most interviews is the pressure to successfully secure the job. This can lead to the interviewee concentrating on the professional aspects of their lives – skills, experience, responsibility, etc. All obviously very important to clearly express during an interview, and undoubtedly key factors in the interviewers’ decision-making process on your suitability for the role.

But I feel that failing to allow a little of your personality out might be selling yourself short. Most employers don’t expect their staff to be automatons, an error free package of work-related skills and abilities applied robotically to any situation flawlessly and emotionlessly. It is increasingly becoming just as important to demonstrate that you are a good “cultural fit” to a particular team or organisation as to demonstrate that your skills are relevant to the role.

That can mean letting your professional guard down a bit and letting the interviewers in on a little of your personality. Show them you have hobbies or other outside interests, for example, indicating you’re a well-rounded individual, or perhaps casually mention your wife/husband/family, demonstrating your work-life balance. Share a little evidence of your good sense of humour. Though go carefully here – simply quoting knock knock jokes may not confirm that your sense of humour falls into the “good” category. Worse still, a full on Bernard Manning routine may not be the thing that seals the deal on the job offer!

I once received feedback from a former line manager that I hadn’t actually cracked a single smile during the whole interview, and it was only when she lead me down the corridor to the room in which I was to sit a test that I allowed one to pass my lips. I’m naturally a very smiley person, especially when I’m a bit nervous, so I was really surprised to hear that. I suppose I was focussing so much on not showing my nerves that I blocked out all my little tell-tales signs, but inadvertently went a bit too far with the smiles! The feedback was that they weren’t sure whether I was right for the team until I relaxed and let slip a smile in the corridor, because they just hadn’t got a sense of my personality from the interview.

These days, therefore, I try consciously to leave interviewers not just with an understanding of my suitability for the technical aspects of a role, but also with a sense of my personality. I work hard, but I like to have fun too and I believe that people and teams are far more effective when they are able to be themselves and have a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

So I feel comfortable – and, indeed, justified – letting my guard down a little more during interviews nowadays. Which is my excuse for telling daft swimming pool based anecdotes, and I’m sticking to it!