The job market all over the world over has become a very competitive space. With less jobs available and more graduates, more individuals and more people who think they are the smartest person in the room it’s very easy to see why jobs have become a war-zone. Now we know that the socks need to be pulled up for interviews when you are fortunate enough to be called to one. There are so many things (little and not so little) that may be keeping you from your dream job. These are things that you can easily fix and turn things around in your favour. Here are 9 ways to ace job interviews and wow the panel.
Don’t Be Late
You haven’t even been interviewed and yet there you are standing before the panel apologising profusely and telling the story of how you couldn’t find your keys despite being two hours early in your preparations, how the kombi took the long way round and how all the traffic lights were red. At this point I’m sure you ran/jogged half the way, you’re out of breath, your shirt isn’t even tucked in properly anymore and you have a sweat patch that looks like a map of Zimbabwe on your back. There is no way you will be at your best when you can feel the sweat trickling down your pits and the sweat patch has started to get cold. Being late poses two potential threats: a) the panel, merely out of the displeasure or having to wait for you have now marked you down before you even start; or b) you didn’t have enough time to rest and collect your thoughts and be composed. This always makes for a shitty interview where you mind is all over the place and the panel wishes someone would open a trap door under your chair and send you to boring candidate hell.
So what do you do? Get there early. Settle down. Talk to the other candidates and survey the environment you might one day work in. You can get a lot of clues about the culture of the company if you have enough time to sit and watch.
Learn “Tell Us About Yourself” Really Wants to Know
I once went for an interview and I was asked that question. I went on to waffle about my self and my life story, How I was raised by a single parent and all other things they didn’t care about. Even as I answered I could feel I wasn’t doing the right thing and felt myself fall deeper into the darkness of unemployment. I will help you out.
“Tell us about yourself” is a platform question meant to be an elevator pitch. You have no more than 120 seconds to show your panel or interviewee what you are made of. This is where you let them know the skills and experiences you have that make you the ideal candidate for the post. So next time the question comes, smile and knock em dead!
Clean Your Social Media Beforehand
I’m sure we all see those friends of ours with private social media accounts and we wonder why on earth they chose that. After all, it’s social media right? Well true, it is the place we share the most. Most companies these days will go through your social media to try and learn more about the person they may be letting into their organisation. There’s nothing wrong with having your nights out on social media, hell they may love that you are outgoing! What is risky is if your profile is laden with discriminatory comments and it looks like they would be hiring the chief secretary of the KKK. I’m not saying have a private account. Just be careful what is on it to begin with.
So before applying for a job just do a quick run through your social media to see if anything on it may cost you the job.
Decide on whether Tie or No Tie?
Being indecisive about the neck tie may have been a thing in primary school, when we hated school ties. Our poorly knotted ties probably felt like the noose Mbuya Nehanda was hung on and we would almost always have it at half mast; mourning the heroes we lost. Well if you’re looking for a job you are probably an adult now (or at least I hope so), the tie is a part of smart dress and may become a part of your daily dress code. Very few things can be worse than showing disrespect for the very concept of dressing up for an interview.
When you don’t wear your tie properly the defiance that you show to dress code may not be part of the required skill set your interviewers are looking for. If I was on your interview panel and your tie looked like it was worn correctly at 8am but somewhere between there and the door you yanked it down and wriggled it loose then your sheet will automatically have a zero! I’ll have you know right now that I will be doodling the whole time I am asking you questions and nodding my head at what now sounds like rubbish. In case you don’t get it yet, a properly worn tie is technically mandatory.
So dress to the nines. Necktie securely on your neck in the best knot you can muster. If everything is the right size it will fit more or less comfortably.
Remove “Going to Church” from The Hobbies Section of your CV
I have seen this as a trend among us Zimbabweans. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks going to church shouldn’t be classified under hobbies. You can help me out with this one.
Describe Yourself Accurately – Don’t oversell unnecessarily in the CV
Your character section is should be like the person we see sitting in front of us. It seems someone told us Zimbabweans that we can go through life using copy paste. Copy paste your assignment. Copy paste your dissertation. Copy paste your CV. Copy paste your work reports. Copy paste your eulogy then copy paste the text for your tombstone. It’s quite saddening that you’re asked to write about yourself and you don’t even want to put in the time to describe yourself accurately. You can’t say you are a great communicator and yet your resume has more shorthand than a 13 year old’s text messages. If you are a great communicator it will show while we talk. If you are organised a good interviewer can tell and anything you got from someone else’s CV will make you lose credibility.
So the key is you should be unique. We always remember the different candidate, the good type of different though.
It’s 2017. Knowing Microsoft Office Doesn’t Count Under I.T (Computer) Skills Anymore!
It was cool in 1999 to know how to use Microsoft Word but not anymore. The kindergarten criteria nowadays includes learning how to use word. So imagine how it looks when a grown man is putting it on his CV as a skill. I am not saying it’s not an important skill, I’m just saying if you don’t have it’s a problem but don’t tell me about it. At this rate you will be putting your experience as a Whatsapp group admin in your CV next.
Make Your CV Lean
I know there was a time when we were all sure that the more we had in our CV the better our chances of getting called to interviews. On top of having chapters and chapters of information, people with these types of CVs tend to then also go into detail on each minuscule task they did in their past jobs. Please. Don’t.
There are several things I see in CVs and I think they are utterly useless. Information that doesn’t and cannot affect a decision to hire you but yet you want to put it in your CV. Let me give you a sample:
a. Full Date of Birth – You could just put your age. Unless your goal is for one panellist to look at your CV and say “Oh wow, we share a birthday. You’re Hired!”
b. ID Number – I have honestly never understood why this one even exists. Maybe you can help me with this one.
I surprisingly started getting more positive feedback when I shrunk my CV from four pages to just one. It may work for you too. Less is more!
Work on Your Body Language
This cannot be stressed enough. Body language is the most honest form of communication; and we subconsciously react to to body language. This then means the best way to better communicate to the people in front of you is with your body language. Read up on body language (or maybe I’ll write something) and learn how to make sure the words coming out of your mouth are no conflicting with your body.
There’s obviously a lot more that we can talk about but if we can work on a bit of it at a time some progress can be made. The goal is to continuously improve yourself. #kaizenYOU