Bouncing back from Redundancy 5: Preparing for Interviews
Article 5 in a series of 5 which offers a few simple hints and tips to help you cope with redundancy if it happens to you. Hopefully it won’t, but unfortunately it seems to happen rather indiscriminately, so better prepared than not. After all, it’s a good idea to buy home contents insurance before the faulty Christmas tree lights cause a fire in your lounge rather than waiting until after the event.
If the unthinkable happens to you, part five of our series on How To Bounce Back From Redundancy gives you a few simple preparatory steps that will give you the edge when you go for that all important interview.
Whether this is a real interview or a meeting that has resulted from one of your speculative approaches directly to a prospective employer, the outcome could dramatically change the whole of your future. It can be rather daunting even for the most professional of interviewees. Presenting yourself as an ideal candidate in roughly one hour can be a frightening ordeal.
You need to feel at ease and in control, so that only the best and the required, comes across. This takes time, care and expertise. There are four lists which may help:
To feel at ease in an interview relies a great deal on preparation of course, but if you are shot through with self-doubt this will come across to the interviewer. Therefore one essential element of your preparation is the development of self-confidence. There are four main elements to work on: the first three are relatively easy but nevertheless important, whereas the fourth one is more difficult being somewhat intangible in nature:
- Confidence in your ability to present yourself. Wear a suit where appropriate – give a firm handshake – wear a smile – be aware of personal grooming.
- Confidence in your ability to present information about which you have knowledge. Practise your elevator pitch – practise your “5 minutes on me” – practise answers to standard interview questions.
- Confidence in your ability to do the things that you are normally paid to do. Keep going through your achievements using the AAA Approach – go through the examples that illustrate your transferable skills.
- Confidence to gainsay the little person who occasionally sits on your shoulder whispering self-limiting beliefs in your ear. Use your mentor to help you eliminate these feelings – remember the well worn adage, “you can if you think you can” – your attitude is everything – you are not a supplicant – you are meeting a professional peer.
5.2: Things To Take With You
Before you leave the house in the morning, make sure you go through the following check list of “things” you should take with you. It is particularly important to go through the list if you are still in employment and the interview is later on in the day – I have known several people who with regret, half way to work, realised that they had forgotten some of the following:
- The letter, or more likely an e-mail these days, that confirms the appointment and gives the address and directions – even if you know where it is, there may be a security gate to get through.
- Several copies of your CV – do this even though you will no doubt have sent a soft copy as part of the application process.
- The job specification and description together with any research material that you have gleaned about the company – in a neat folder, not on scruffy bits of paper.
- Examples of your work – this is of course not always essential, it depends on your function and the nature of the role.
- Your diary, pen, calculator and some good quality paper – it’s amazing how many interviewees forget notepaper!
- A list of prepared questions – this requires considerable thought and preparation – don’t forget to use your mentor.
- A well organized briefcase to carry them all in!
5.3: Mental Preparation
One of the main elements of mental preparation that your mentor or coach will be able to assist with is that of “confidence” as we covered in 5.1 above. The remaining elements comprise all the facts about yourself that you should remain aware of and that your interviewer may quiz you on:
- Illustrations of the exact talents and transferable skills required for the job.
- Examples of the experience you have already gained which is relevant to the job specification.
- Evidence of your organizing, planning and administrative abilities.
- If salary has not been given or discussed, you need to have a practised answer to the question that may arise. “What salary level are you looking for?”
- In depth knowledge of your achievements both in summary form and also the specific detail.
- An honest and appropriate reason for leaving or wanting to leave your last or current position.
- Good descriptions and defences of any rough passages in your career.
- Practised answers that aren’t scripted but carefully thought out, to the old chestnut questions. “Could you tell me about your weaknesses?” and “What has been your greatest failure?”
The majority of these points are elementary common sense but they are also easily overlooked by those who are totally out of the habit of going for interviews. Make written notes on the various points at home and study the notes before you leave home.
5.4: Before the Interview
The final list will help you to focus and yet appear relaxed, confident in the knowledge that you are fully prepared to give of your best:
- Telephone the day before to confirm the appointment and to obtain arrival instructions if these have not already been made clear.
- Arrive in good time, relaxed and (of course I don’t need to say) wearing pressed clothes, polished shoes and a confident smile.
- Imperative! Immediately before the interview turn your mobile off, not onto silent, OFF!
- Be polite and pleasant to EVERYONE you meet
- Imperative! If you suffer from TBS (tiny bladder syndrome) remember to go to the loo before the interview!
- In the interview give a firm dry handshake, look the part and remember to smile.
One final overarching imperative is to practise, practise and practise again. Your interview technique will undoubtedly improve the more interviews you attend, but the first interview may be the one that is for the perfect job. So it’s not a good idea to use real interviews as your only means of practice: the next “perfect job” may not happen until interview number seven, but you’ve already accepted interview number four, thinking “It’s not ideal but at least I’ll be making sure I can pay the bills!”
If you found this article useful, then save it along with the previous ones in the series, against possible future need and please feel free to share the whole series with your connections.