Part 2: 5 Ways to Be More Interesting at a Job Interview

Now that we have the additional tips out of the way, we can focus on how you can be more interesting to your interviewers.

#1 Body Language

People forget how important this is, and while your interviewer may not be an expert on the subject, there are a few signs that we all know. Here are the main dos and don’ts for body language during an interview.

Do:

Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. This shows engagement, sincerity, and trust. Of course, not everyone is able to maintain eye contact, and this can be a tricky barrier to overcome. My top tip is to look at their nose while they speak. To them, it looks like you are making direct eye contact, and you don’t have to be uncomfortable.

Make hand gestures. They don’t need to be wild and bold, but using your hands to emphasise your points can show passion and engagement, as well as tell the interviewer a little about your personality. So, don’t be afraid to express yourself.

Smile. This is so important. Smiles make people feel relaxed and also promote chemistry between people. Smiling at appropriate points during the interview can also demonstrate interest and engagement, which is something an employer will appreciate.

Don’t:

Slouch. Sit up straight, keep both feet on the ground, and put your shoulders back. Good posture shows an interviewer that you are focused and ready, whereas slouching depicts sloppiness. If you are wearing a skirt, keep your knees together and tuck one foot behind the other. This is the correct and professional way to sit when wearing a skirt. Employers appreciate little things like that.

Yawn. Yawning is a definite no when you are being interviewed. It’s seen as bad manners and displaying a lack of interest. To try and avoid yawning before an interview, try to get a really good sleep the night before and also drink a lot of water before you are called in. Similarly, if you have gum, you need to dispose of it before you go in. Chewing during an interview is also seen as very rude.

Fold your arms. For those of us who are a little more reserved and feel nervous in interviews, folding the arms is often a go-to position. However, the body language you are demonstrating by doing this is that you are closed off, reserved, and uncomfortable. Employers want someone who is open and relaxed, so try and fight the urge to fold your arms during the interview. Place your hands on your lap and use them to make hand gestures when you speak as a distraction for yourself.

#2 Get Them Talking

Humans work in an interesting way. Often, the more you get them to talk about themselves, the more interesting you become to them. It allows you to make a connection. Ask your interviewer questions and engage them in conversation. Do you detect an accent? Have you both worked for the same company previously? An interviewer will not only find you interesting, but will also be more likely to remember you if you take the time to chat with them during the interview.

#3 Hobbies

The important thing here is not to lie. You might have hobbies that others find uninteresting, but your passion and enthusiasm for them are often more than enough. Make sure you mention some of the things you love most, you can talk about your travels too (especially as that could relate back to tip number two). It’s also an idea to have a little browse on LinkedIn to see if your potential interviewer has any hobbies or interests listed there that you might have in common. If you have an unusual hobby, make sure you mention that as well. People do like a little quirk in the office.

#4 Past Experience

Before you get to your interview, make sure you gather up some of your best experiences from previous jobs, as well as roles you have had that are similar to the one you are applying for. Things like situations where you have worked with a team to overcome difficult problems, have had to take up the role of leader unexpectedly, or have had a serious challenge that you had to face alone are all situations that you should mention.

Keep it modest, too much arrogance can be off-putting. However, you will usually be able to tell what the interviewer likes by the time you reach these questions. Some like a person who shows a little overconfidence, so make sure you try and read the situation correctly.

#5 Do Your Research

This is essential. Research the company, their beginnings, past, and also any published plans for the future. Learn what they do and what they sell so that you can impress your interviewer with your knowledge. This can also help you to come up with some interesting questions to ask at the end of the interview.

Use social media to your advantage to absorb as much knowledge as you can about the company, and try to talk to the employer as if you were already working there. This tends to have positive psychological effects. Be careful with LinkedIn, however, as they can see how many times you view their profile unless you have activated private browsing settings.

To Conclude

Hopefully, you have found this interview guide useful. By following these points and using them in your next job interview, you will be well on your way to presenting yourself as an interesting candidate. Just remember to always remain professional, to be confident, and to watch your body language carefully throughout the process. Plus, the more interviews you have, the easier it will become.

Good luck!

Part 1: 5 Ways to Be More Interesting at a Job Interview

Part 1: 5 Ways to Be More Interesting at a Job Interview

We all like to hear interesting things, so where better to use it to your advantage than during a job interview? Here’s how.

Job interviews can be a daunting experience, and one that leaves many of us feeling nervous both before and after. This is even truer when it comes to being interviewed for office jobs and graduate roles. After all, the setting, formality, and questions asked can be very different to those found in interviews for temporary or in-the-gap positions. It’s often a lot more serious and competitive. One of the most important things you can do is make yourself interesting, make the interviewer intrigued as to who you are and how you can benefit their company. The interview is yours to control, you just need to know how to make yourself interesting.

In this guide, we highlight five of the best ways to achieve this to help you get your first big job.

Interview Tips

Before we move on to the ways in which you can make yourself more interesting, it is important to run over some of the key interview tips that you should remember before you head off.

The first of these is that you should always dress to impress. Whether it’s a job at McDonald’s as a fry cook, or a position as a trainee manager of a new company, you should always look smart and well groomed. You might ask what the point is if you are applying for a fry cook position, or another role that is considered “low-end” by many.

The reason is respect. An interviewer appreciates that you have made the effort, because it shows them that you respect the job that you are being interviewed for, and that you also respect them. You will find interviewers warm to you much faster if you are well dressed.

Secondly, don’t try too hard. Many people find themselves listing off various achievements like a checklist. Employers are interested, but remember they have your CV in front of them, so they can see all of your achievements. The interviewer wants to get to know you, so just try to relax and make conversation. Be confident, but make sure you hold on to some modesty so that you keep your cool.

Thirdly, turn your phone off. So many people forget to do this before they enter an interview. Your phone ringing or vibrating is considered to be incredibly rude – so make sure it is off or set so that it makes no sound or vibrations. The interview is about you and the person asking questions; a ringing phone makes it look as though you are not entirely focused on the interview.

Fourthly, be careful with your jokes. Sometimes a little bit of humour or banter will work well – especially if you and an interviewer are getting on. However, keep the joke to a minimum and make sure you don’t go too far. Letting even a little comment slip out can ruin your chances of receiving an offer. Keep it polite, tame, and professional.

Finally, set your social media to private. Your potential employers will be looking to see what you have been up to and to try and gain an impression of what you are like. Make sure you ensure everything you don’t want them to see is hidden from them so that you don’t ruin your chances.

Part 2:  5 Ways to Be More Interesting at a Job Interview

Why setbacks are nothing but progress-checkers

So, you’ve had a setback. Didn’t get that job, wasn’t shortlisted for interview. Good. Here’s what to do next.

Looking for a job, especially your first graduate job, presents plenty of opportunity for setbacks and disappointments, but it isn’t all bad.

Setbacks check our progress. That’s all they do. If we view them this way we will not read them as failures.

When we face a setback we often feel deflated. We lose confidence and motivation. We can feel discouraged and even quit.

This is where our level of emotional intelligence kicks in. it determines both what we do next and how quickly we act.

The first thing we need to remind ourselves is that to feel disappointment is normal. Whatever it is we were hoping for has received a knock-back which, says the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as either ‘a force or action of one object hitting another’ or ‘a powerful effect that something has on a situation or person’.

So, if you felt the ‘personal impact’, good. It means you’re alive.

What to do after a setback

US psychologist Hendrie Weisinger says that when we receive a personal setback we must go through seven sequential steps to recover and move on. If we fail to do so we can remain stuck in one area or reverberate between two or more without moving forward.

The seven steps are:

  1. Disbelief – ‘I can’t believe I’ve been turned down.’
  2. Anger – ‘Those people are idiots.’
  3. Wishful thinking – ‘If only I answered that question differently.’
  4. Depression – ‘I feel so discouraged, it never works out for me.’
  5. Acceptance – ‘Okay, I didn’t get that job.’
  6. New hope – ‘I will continue to try, there are other jobs.’
  7. Positive activity – ‘I will apply for these jobs.’

Your Comeback Toolkit

Weisinger says we should make use of the Comeback Toolkit, a set of responses that help guide our next steps and develop our emotional intelligence.

You should:

Tune into your feelings – accept, ‘I feel disappointed, but that’s ok.’

Use motivational statements – ‘I am smart and so will eventually get a job.’

Keep a sense of humour – ‘That answer I gave was really crap!’

Practise relaxation – ‘I’ll take the evening off and hang out with my mates.’

Use problem solving techniques – ‘Now, where can I find the answers I didn’t know?’

Draw support – ‘I’ll practise my interview techniques with my friend.’

Reassess and set new goals – ‘That position was right/not right for me. Here’s what I’ll do…’

Resilience is not an option

Resilience is not an option. It’s not a case of do I need it or not. We all need to have resilience and as I said earlier, setbacks come to test our progress in acquiring and developing one skill or another.

Many organisations offer training in resilience techniques because they recognise how vital it is to job success: imagine the huge staff turnover companies would face if people simply quit. You need resilience especially if you are ambitious and aspire to a leadership role. You will never survive as a leader without resilience.

Sports professionals and their coaches study for hours to discover how athletes can learn to perform better after suffering defeat. Like work, competitive sport is riddled with plenty of opportunity for so-called failure but it is the athlete that studies what happened who learns from it, performs better and eventually wins. We don’t hear much about those who fail and never get up and try again for obvious reasons.

Resilience is the ability to get through, over and past trials, traumas and setbacks. Instead of asking, ‘Why did this happen to me’, ask ‘How can I use this to help me move forward?’ That way, you will develop the elasticity to spring back after being stretched.

This is why they got the job and you didn’t

You have the same qualification and roughly the same amount of experience as other candidates and yet someone else got the job.

What tipped the scales?

There are, of course, loads of dynamics, both on the side of the interviewee and the interviewer, most of them irrational, but one thing we know is that it isn’t always about your capabilities.

Often the clue can be found in the hard-to-identify soft skills that gel everything else together.

In his recent article on this subject, author-teacher-influencer Seth Godin says organisations do not respect these skills – at least not to the extent that they insist on calling them soft skills.

And organisations are quicker to tolerate people who don’t have them over those who lack technical ability. The accounts assistant who messes up on her figures will be sacked quicker than the unrepentant grouch even though he makes other workers’ lives hell. Yet the grouch is losing the organisation money too.

Soft skills shape an organisation’s culture

It is ‘the difficult-to-measure attitudes, processes and perceptions’ of the people a company hires that makes the difference to which of two organisations in the same field becomes the leader or the follower.

That’s why soft skills aren’t soft. These are the skills that shape an organisation’s culture and, as Seth says, ‘culture defeats strategy every time’. Culture is a matter of the heart.

Because they are so important, he says ‘soft skills’ should be renamed ‘real skills’. These skills, which by the way can be learnt, are the modifiers, amplifiers and game-changers in a company.

And they are the skills that make you stand out over a fellow candidate with the same experience and qualifications you have.

These skills are:

  • Resilience
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Communication skills
  • Numeracy
  • Business awareness

People define these soft (sorry Seth, real) skills in a variety of ways. Seth lists perception, self-control, productivity, wisdom and influence. We might swap these for the equally useful insight, self-discipline, follow-through, judgement and ability to impact.

Such skills foster our admiration and appreciation of other people. As John Maxell says, ‘People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.’

If you lack soft skills, beware

People who are good at their jobs but don’t have these skills are often tolerated only because they get results. Beware if that’s you. You may not get fired but you’re likely to be overlooked for promotion and opportunities that can accelerate your career. You may not have a clue until you see your peers advancing ahead while you remain in the same position.

What is going to make you memorable is the ability to show what makes you different. And the only thing that is going to make you different to your peers or fellow candidates with the same assets you have, is what you have outside of what they have.

As a recent graduate, you are going to represent your career story something along the lines of:

First, your qualifications.

Next, your skills and experience.

Then it will be the glue that holds it all together: your real or soft skills.

What you know also helps. When you set yourself the task of learning all you can about the company, the industry and how to develop your technical skills over what the normal person might do, you will stand out.

Fortunately for you, most people are too lazy to do this.

Small and mighty ways to get an employer’s attention – on your CV and in person

It’s not easy to get a great job these days – particularly if you’ve no work experience, or any experience within the industry you’re trying to enter.

You may have spent the last four years in education, working hard to make yourself a good candidate, but what many universities don’t teach is the essential CV writing and interview help that will catch employers’ attention and get you ahead of the pack, no matter whether you’ve spent all your student life studying, or whether you’ve been working between lectures to gain some much-needed work experience. Here, we give you some great tips on making the right impression on paper and in person, giving you a better chance of getting your first job.

The CV – Create a tailored CV for each role

Your CV absolutely must make an impact to get you through to an interview, but this doesn’t mean you should pack absolutely everything into it, leaving nothing for employers to ask you about. It’s often a good idea to make up a master CV that includes all your qualifications, experience and personal qualities, so that you can take the most relevant parts of the master CV and create a bespoke one fit for the job you’re going for.  When making up this job-tailored CV, don’t be afraid to bold out the most relevant information that makes you a good fit for the role. This will show you’ve fully understood the job spec and know why you’re a good fit. As always, make sections clear and easy to read and use bullet points to break up the text – this will make it much easier for employers to skim over.

The personal statement – should I include one?

Many people include a short personal statement on their CVs and if you feel that there is information that makes you ideal for the role, then you should definitely include it. For example, ‘As captain of the debate team, I feel I have the confidence to speak in public, along with conflict management – both qualities that I feel this role demands’. Or, ‘As captain for the university football team, I’ve learnt about teamwork, and strategy’. This can offer a vital insight for any employer as to the way you’d fit the position. Just don’t make the personal statement too wordy, as your prospective employer doesn’t want your life story – they more than likely have quite a few to get through and anything too long winded could get rejected for that reason alone.

The interview

If your CV has passed the first round of applications, the job interview is your next big step, and this, especially for graduates with little to no experience, can be terrifying. Even the most confident of candidates find job interviews difficult, but if you do the research beforehand, then you’ll have much more of an idea of who you’re trying to impress. The first thing to go back over is your CV. Remind yourself of why you feel you’re a good candidate and make sure you refer to this during the interview. You could even consider having a test interview with a friend or family member to make answering interview questions less daunting – being comfortable talking about yourself and your best qualities is possible if you practise enough.

For extra credit, do your research

It’s often a good idea to look up not just the company you’re interviewing for, but if possible, the interviewer themselves, and LinkedIn can be a great place to start with this. Grab hold of any mention of the company in the media, or any blogs your interviewer has written perhaps, and reference this if you can within the interview. A candidate who’s done their research and knows the industry well is a very attractive prospect – it not only shows that you’re taking the interview seriously, but that you’re not afraid of a little hard work to get what you want. On the flip side, don’t be afraid of not knowing everything. Ask your interviewer anything you don’t understand about the business or the industry, and listen to what they have to say – a willingness to learn is another attractive trait that employers will be looking for.

Hopefully, the tips above will help you get ahead of the pack when it comes to catching a prospective employer’s attention, but one of the most important things to remember is to be yourself. After all, if and when you get the job, you’ll struggle to keep up a façade if you’ve been anything less than truthful.