Interview like an expert
Palms sweating, hands shaking, voice cracking. All common side effects of the dreaded job interview. Nerve wracking for the best of us, let alone the first timer, job interviews are still a crucial element in your personal sales pitch.
Yep, your CV can be as sparkling as a Strictly Samba but if your interview is more Widdecombe than Bussell you could still find yourself at the bottom of the leader board. Which is why we added ‘interview like an expert’ to the running order of our St George’s School employability day.
Who gets the job?
Focussing on first impressions, confidence and preparation, the year 10 students were asked to choose their winning candidate for the role of Customer Service Assistant, from a series of video interviews. Lead by our Employer Liaison Executive, Liz Bailey, each section incorporated analysis, reasoning, open discussion and got everyone actively involved.
Liz’s brief was clear “Imagine that £15,000 salary is coming out of your pocket, think about the skills needed and the best person for your business and for the job.”
First Impressions – 10 seconds is all you get
Initial discussion got everyone sharing their thoughts on good, bad and ugly first impressions. Turning up drunk and sharing rude comments were quickly assigned to the ugly list (phew) whilst enthusiasm, respect and turning up on time topped the good.
With this in mind the students then met their candidates, assessed their first impressions and voted with their feet. Good impressions included a smart appearance, confidence, a handshake, smiling and a sense of calm. Whilst over enthusiasm, cockiness, fidgeting and lack of eye contact were all cited as bad or ugly first impressions.
Confidence – Be yourself, the rest are taken
With their first candidate selections decided it was now time to talk confidence. Open discussion saw the pupils all agreeing that confidence is really important at interview and that learning to manage your nerves is tricky but essential. Before watching their candidates in action once again Liz prompted them to think about the fine line of confidence. When does confident become arrogant? Why might showing nerves be a good thing?
With this in mind the students started to see the candidates in a different light and many switched allegiances. It was agreed that nerves show that someone cares, it makes them humble and more likeable. And whilst confidence is still important, an over use of this can make you appear cocky. In the end it was agreed that the right level of confidence means sharing the very best version of you.
Preparation – Why do you want this job?
Before returning to watch their own candidates handle this top teaser Liz asked the students to think about the best ways to answer this all time interview question. Despite the fact that most had never attended any form of interview, there were some great suggestions including showing passion for the role and talking about the company and why they wanted to work there. It was agreed however that this question needed some serious preparation to answer well.
After again watching the candidates we discussed their success in answering, their levels of preparation and its effect on their interview success before again voting with our feet. Liz also encouraged the students to think about the skills they demonstrate at school and in everyday life and how they can match these strengths with job descriptions. There was lively discussion about computer games and hand-eye co-ordination, school projects that demonstrate problem solving skills and sports that highlight leadership skills and the ability to work in a team.
The students decided that good preparation includes their own strengths and skills, detailed understanding of the job itself, the company now, its background, its website and its people. It was great to see this level of insight before they have even set foot through an interview room door.
The winning candidate
Whilst not everyone agreed on the winning Customer Service candidate, the students all left with a whole host of interview techniques and hopefully a few less nerves.
When we asked Halle what she now thought made a sparkling interview and a winning candidate she told us “ I’ve learnt that it’s all about managing your nerves, being honest and doing your research. I guess the thing I am really taking away though is about being yourself and speaking from the heart, rather than getting all nervous and worried about saying exactly the right thing.”
We look forward to seeing St George’s pupils topping the interview leader boards in future. No Samba required, just honesty and passion!