We are all familiar with the expression “make friends and influence people”. Very few employers will consider employing someone who has failed to forge any kind of connection with them during an interview or at an assessment centre. So, how do you make friends and get the job offer?
1. Get the “form” right
This is about finding the right level of formality for the particular interview situation. Some occupations will demand the utmost formality, both in terms of dress and behaviour, others will look for a more relaxed informality. If you’re going for the City banking job, it’s formal all the way. The creative design employers might run a mile if you turn up in a suit and super shiny shoes! It’s up to you to work out where you need to be on the formality continuum. You might want to ask people you know who already work in the area, try looking at how they dress and behave when they appear in the media, what does their LinkedIn profile picture look like?
2. Be courteous to everyone you meet
Really everyone! From the moment you announce your arrival at reception, smile and be polite. Make sure that you are friendly and supportive to other candidates you meet. If you are applying for a graduate scheme, you will not be in direct competition with those at your interview or assessment centre, it may be that all of you …. or none get offers. If you are applying for a single vacancy, perhaps in a smaller organization, then there may just be one job, but this isn’t an excuse to be discourteous or overtly competitive.
3. Don’t take over
If you’re an extrovert and enjoy meeting new people you might need to curb an urge to be too chatty and gregarious. You need not to overwhelm others, or the interviewers. We all tend to back away if we feel that someone else is taking over, it’s not the way to make those friends! Quite apart from this, the employer wants to know, that if he or she employs you, then you are going to be working and not chatting yourself and disrupting others as you do so.
4 Answer the questions put to you
It’s important to listen during the interview and answer the questions put to you. Employers want to know that you are going to be able to take instructions and act on what they ask you to do. If you don’t pay close attention and answer the actual question you’ve been asked in the interview then you might raise a suspicion that you can’t pay attention. It also means that you and the employer are not having a proper dialogue and that you are not building that all important rapport.
5. Make eye contact
An important part of forging relationships is making appropriate eye contact. Some find this difficult and it can be particularly challenging if you’re nervous or if you’re asked a tough question. Don’t let yourself gaze into the middle distance, or at a point just above the interviewer’s head. If you have an interview panel then you need to look at all the interviewers and not just at the one person who has asked a particular question. Include everyone in the answer through your eye contract. At the end of the interview the panel will discuss which person (or persons) to appoint. You will need to have convinced all of them.
6. Be honest
It is always important to tell the truth! If you start to “embellish” a story you risk being found out, if not at the interview then perhaps later. If you’re dishonest then you will not engage with the employer, there will be a barrier and you won’t be successful in persuading the employer that you are the sort of person he or she wants on the team.
7. Be yourself
This is an extension on being honest but it’s important. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You want to get a job where you are the person recruited – not someone you pretended to be! If there is no match between the employer and you as you are, then you might be better off working elsewhere.
And finally, try to enjoy yourself!