How much time do you spend getting ready for an interview? When I ask my students this question, the normal answer is a tirade upon how long it took for them to pick out an outfit (the winner thus far is two weeks), picking the right hair style and make up, and coordinating shoes and lip gloss. For my male students, it’s the Shakespearian, “To iron or not to iron” conundrum.
What many people fail to realize is that an interview, believe it or not, is a smorgasbord of sensory experiences. The interview encompasses all of your senses and after taking a minute to review them, you may be surprised how missing just one can cost you the job.
This is the first part of a series regarding the five senses of an interview.
Let’s take these one at a time…
Sight – This, of course, is the most obvious; it takes into consideration… your clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up, hair, etc. It also takes into consideration your walk, your smile, your cell phone, your watch, eye contact, etc. One of the things that novice and professional job candidates alike fail to recognize is that sight encompasses ALOT!
- Are you talking on your cell phone when you walk in the door? BAD
- Do you keep checking your cell phone or watch? BAD
- Are you standing up straight and presenting a professional confident demeanor? GOOD
- Do you look people in the eye when you introduce yourself and shake their hand? GOOD
- When you are sitting waiting for the interview to begin, are you sitting up straight? GOOD
When I’m working with students to hone in on their soft skills, especially their interview skills, I tell them the purpose of the interview is to make sure that the hiring manager can actually visualize them doing the job. You never know what kind of prejudices the employer may have, so you want to present a clean, professional slate that they can see fitting into their culture. If you have tattoos, facial piercings, stiletto heels, low cut tops, high cut skirts, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair…what does that say about you and the image their organization is trying to present? Yes you may look great, for Friday night, but not for Monday morning.
Remember to think of the job you want and dress for it: not too much, not too little, but just right. Give yourself the best foot forward to get the job, and then let YOU shine through. An interview is not the time to make a social political statement; it’s the time to show the employer you are the best fit in skills, culture, and professionalism.
- When in doubt, look in the mirror. If you think your skirt may be too short or your top too low…it probably is. Change it.
- If you’re wondering, “Iron or not to iron,” throw it in the dryer till it’s flat.
- Is your make up Friday night fresh or Monday morning professional? Fix it.
- Can you hear your shoes or jewelry coming down the hall? Change them.
- If you are expecting a call that’s so important you have to take your cell in with you…Reschedule the interview.
- Take a look in the mirror, and ask one simple question: “Would I hire me?”
Take a deep breath, walk into the office, smile, introduce yourself with confidence, look them in the eye, and let them know you are the best person for the job.
Check back on Tuesday, August 13th where I’ll discuss how it’s not your nose but theirs that matters.
I recently read an article online published by FastCompany titled “Why Humor Makes You More Creative” by Drake Baer. Great article! Here I am arming my entire campus with Nerf guns and water balloons because it’s fun and a great tension breaker. Now come to find out my instinct for making my work environment fun makes me an innovative manager who fosters free and creative thinking. Who knew?
Well actually I kind of did, but not in the formal sense. Many years ago when I was tapped on the shoulder to take over a large sales and customer service department I made an analogy to my then Vice President. I told him I would take on the project, however it wasn’t going to look like the department we had prior. I didn’t want an ocean of cubicles full of downtrodden folks who didn’t feel their value, engage our customers and enjoy their work.
I asked if he’d seen the movie Monsters Inc.? He smiled and laughed, “No I haven’t, but I’ve heard of it”. I told him the short history of a large company, one that had been keeping society functioning and moving in a ‘forward’ direction, only to find out that this direction was no longer sustaining them…their society, very way of life was in jeopardy (did I mention I was working for a newspaper at the time). The crux of the movie was to find new ways of achieving the same ends with different means. However the means weren’t really different, they were just more extreme measures of what they were currently doing. Yes they were beating a dead horse, squeezing blood from a stone, etc. It wasn’t working.
Through a long, and in my opinion very funny progression of events, the discovery was made that laughter is more beneficial to all then fear. Go figure! Now I can take this analogy in all kinds of directions but I want to keep it in the context of the Drake Baer article, “Why Humor Makes You More Creative”. Baer states “while self-monitoring is often useful–you don’t want to say everything that passes through your mind–it can get in the way of new ideas.” Laughter enables you to turn off that internal filter that can keep you from letting the ideas flow. I noticed that in my customer service department, those folks who were more concerned with following a script were less able to genuinely listen, empathize and assist the customer. They couldn’t solve customer challenged unless the answer was written in front of them. Conversely, those who laughed more, enjoyed their job and engaged with the customer were able to think creatively to solve customer issues. They thought out of the proverbial box and did what was right…all on their own.
Now I admit Nerf guns and water balloons may not work in all work environments; however humor, laughter and light hearted communication can be just the drug your team needs to find an otherwise incomprehensible answer. Sometimes the best ideas are those that seem outrageous, silly or just plain ridiculous.