Six counter-intuitive things you can do in an interview

Ask questions. Seriously. “I ask the questions around here, not you” might be the smartass interviewer’s response. But the enlightened one will see questions as your effort to learn more so that you can use your answers to meet their needs. An interview should tend towards a conversation: in conversation, we ask questions. (Just make sure you ask good questions, but that’s another day’s column ).

Don’t turn up too early. The sight of people turning up mad early is a bugbear of mine, I admit, but it can be frustrating for an interview panel too. They’re trying to get through everyone, and, almost inevitably, things run a bit late. You know how it goes. And yet you turn up 35 minutes early and sit around haunting them like Banco’s ghost. Ten minutes early is just about right: you should spend the other 25 minutes around the corner, within striking distance of the venue.

Give them honest feedback about their company. Read that again: ‘give them honest feedback about their company’. I didn’t say: ‘reduce them to trembling wrecks with the savagery of your attacks’. If you’re going for a job there, and you know a thing or two about the sector, and what they could be doing better, tell them. There’s a way of doing it. And there’s a real value in doing it. If your observations are sharp, they will remember you as someone who knows their stuff. Honest feedback is closely aligned to ideas for improving a business. If you haven’t got a few ideas for how things might be done better – or how new markets or niches could be explored – well…

Talk with your hands. In school we were told to sit on our hands in job interviews lest they break free. Every time I tell a candidate to let their natural hand movements flow, they look surprised. They always expect to be told that hand movements should be suppressed. If you’re in the habit of talking with your hands, bring that habit into the interview room. Just no karate chop style manoeuvres too close to the panel, if you can help it at all.

Um and ah. ‘Er’ and ‘um’. And ‘ah’ and ‘er’ and ‘um’, too, all together, if needs be. You’re human, not a robot. Of course you will stumble and stutter. And they’re not counting them. You think your every sentence is a stuttering mess, but they’re not. Trust me. Almost everyone I encounter in interview training over-states their incoherence. You are more coherent than you think. Newsreaders preparing for upcoming job interviews, please ignore this tip.

If the opportunity for a laugh presents itself, take it. The day is long enough for those poor souls sat there listening to you, and the likes of you, talking about how your greatest weakness is actually a strength, and that sometimes you obsess too much about your work, and that in five years’ time you expect to be wherever and whatever you expect to be. If the opening presents itself for a giggle, take it. Don’t hammer it to death, but don’t pass it up. Remember, you’re human, it’s a conversation: and humans enjoy a laugh in conversations.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Limerick, Sligo, Nava, Tralee, Cork and Athlone. 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/galway Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Limerick, Sligo, Nava, Tralee, Cork and Athlone. 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/galway

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