As human beings we all have a myriad of ways to impress others. However, interviews are a different matter. Regardless of the industry, geographical location, position or level of seniority, there are some common denominators that, as an experienced Executive Search Consultant, I have seen time and time again. So, what are those elements that will allow you to leave a mark and truly impress at interview?
There are some well-known traits such as charisma, empathy, leadership or great communication skills which are universal winners at interview. However, these fall more in the category of attributes (which by the way, can also be developed!) or skills which would be the subject of another article as they are also key pieces of the “Interview Success” puzzle. Today, we will focus more on the actions that you can implement on the day.
All experts will tell you that non-verbal communication is almost even more important than verbal communication. This is because our brain processes so much more than just the actual words coming from someone´s mouth. Your interviewer might or might not be fully aware of every bit of non-verbal communication that is having an impact on their final decision. However, what is clear is that their decision will be influenced by way more than the verbal content that you are delivering. Therefore, the way you present yourself has great impact on your chances of success. This might not necessarily mean that you have to attend an interview with your best corporate suit. Some of my clients have a smart casual policy and very proudly display a non-corporate and more creative or progressive work environment. Attending an interview beautifully dressed in your smartest suit would be an absolute faux pas with these businesses. You must know your target company in order to decide which outfit will be the most impressive and appropriate (this again, is the subject of another very interesting article as there is so much to say on this topic!).
Regardless of how fantastic you are at your job and of how much of an asset you feel you would be to your new potential employer, there is an element that is often underestimated and which I feel is one of the most important success factors in an interview: Preparation! There is no better way to impress a prospective employer than by knowing their business inside out and showing them that you have diligently prepared for your meeting. You have taken a considerable chunk of your precious time to find out everything there is to know about them. Apart from going to their website, you should be reading articles, listening to interviews from senior leaders and finding industry information to understand how the business is placed in their sector. All this information needs to be absorbed with two key questions in mind: 1. What do I love about this company (which should be almost fully aligned with “What is the heart of this brand/business”) and 2. What opportunities do I see for this business in my area of expertise. This knowledge will in turn allow you to be able to convey the value that you would be able to add to their business. Great Preparation & Ability to Strategise and Elevate the Business is indeed a killer combination.
Needless to say preparation should not be limited to your employer´s business but to your own experience. I cannot stress enough the importance of fully knowing your dates, business, numbers and achievements. A candidate who has to stop and think about their turnover growth, dates, accounts managed or any other important piece of information is undoubtedly showing a lack of preparation. No one is expected to know every bit of their professional experience by heart in day-to-day life. However, when going to an interview, those are exactly the expectations.
One action that can set you completely apart from the rest is preparing a presentation without being prompted. I would say that probably only 1 in 15 or 20 candidates do this, which means that it is a fantastic way of creating a competitive advantage. The best part? I have only seen impressed clients when this has happened. A candidate who prepares a presentation when they have not been asked to present, denotes commitment, professionalism, drive and preparation. And it is crucial to remember one thing. The way that you come across and manage an interview conversation is the same way that your interviewer will be expecting you to manage a meeting with one of their most valued clients or senior stakeholders.
To find out about other absolute winners at interview or deep dive into how you can master the above actions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read this article and more on LinkedIn (21) How To Impress In An Interview | LinkedIn