Stalker or researcher – what’s it going to be?

Q: I’ve been called to interview and the company has given me the names of the three people who’ll be interviewing me. I’m afraid to look them up on LinkedIn because they might think I’m stalking them. What’s your advice? (IS, email ).

A: For those not familiar with LinkedIn, the platform sometimes lets you know who has viewed your profile, hence IS’ concern – Facebook and Twitter don’t do this, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Stalking? Far from it. I’d call it good manners. An interview is a business meeting, not a firing squad – it is mannerly to know something about the person / people you’re meeting. In particular, I would focus on their areas of professional interest – you might find common ground there or, at worst, you will better understand their background.

Do you have similar qualifications or work experience? Are they leading figures in a particular field?

All of that makes for a more knowledgeable conversation on the day. You needn’t go out of your way to shoehorn what you’ve learned into the interview, but something might just make sense – a line such as “you, of course, John, would know a great deal about that” can build rapport, show knowledge and demonstrate that you’re well prepared.

Additionally, now that you have the names, you should be able to use them in the interview. I don’t mean in the way that some people do – i.e. using your name almost at the end of every sentence until it becomes an irritant or a cause of hilarity, and perhaps even both – but in a professional, occasional manner.

On that, one note of caution, if you’re introduced to the panel for the first time on the day, recoil from putting pressure on yourself to remember names. When three or four names are thrown at us, we can struggle – we all know the scenario where somebody comes to the table in a restaurant or at a meeting and gets introduced to a whole host of people at the same time.

“I’ll forget all your names anyway”, they say sheepishly. Trying to remember names, from a standing start, so to speak, is too much of a burden to put on yourself on an already potentially stressful day.

Strong finish leaves good impression

Q: Should I have a question ready to ask them at the end of the interview? (DF, email ).

A: I would argue that having a few questions prepared for the end of the interview is a good idea, just in case. But do not wed yourself fully to them.

Perhaps they will have been dealt with earlier on in the interview, so there’s no need to repeat the topic, or perhaps something more relevant or interesting came up during the interview that you wish to revisit.

It is a good thing to derive your questions from the conversation you’ve just had with the panel. Ask them to elaborate on something they raised or seek clarification on a particular area.

An interview is not a one-way street. It is a two-sided conversation. You should aim to participate fully by listening to what others are saying and drawing your questions from what they say. A good finish to the interview/conversation can leave a strong impression.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Athlone, Tullamore, Galway, Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Sligo, Tralee, Cork and Limerick. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/tullamore-office

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