Mastering Personal Marketing

The moment you have waited for with anticipation is here: your job interview. You take another deep breath, wipe your sweaty palms, and muster up all your confidence. 

In today´s world of work job interviews are often the only doorway to getting a job. At one time, a person used job-interviewing skills once or twice in an entire lifetime.

In today´s turbulent career scenario, we can´t afford to let these skills grow rusty from disuse, since we all have to enter the job-interviewing arena at an average of every 2-5 years.

The job interview is the most important aspect of your search for a new career opportunity. The way you interview will determine whether or not you will get a job offer or will be invited to return for additional interviews. From the moment you walk in, the interviewer will begin evaluating whether you have the qualifications necessary to do the job and whether a mutually rewarding professional relationship can be formed. The following suggestions for preparation will help you be effective and increase the probability that your job interview will be successful.

Researching Yourself
Many people assume they know themselves well and that they don´t need to spend time evaluating themselves before a job interview. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of preparing for the interview by considering your strenghts and weaknesses, specially in a job setting. When identifying your strenghts it is important to do this from your own point of view and from the point of view of the people you deal with.

Weaknesses should als be considered from an internal and external bases: do other people perceive weaknesses that you don´t see? Do your competitors do any better? It is best to be realistic and face unpleasant truths as soon as possible. If you are asked to describe a failure, a weakness or a negative experience during the interview, try to finish your response on an upbeat note. You can for example mention a lesson you learned, how you have grown from a difficult experience, or what you are doing to improve a weakness. This will communicate that you are a positive and forward-thinking person.

Researching the Company and the Position
Besides conducting a self-analysis it is important to have as much information as possible about the company, the employer, the department and the position which you are interviewing for. The more you know about the company, its products and its customers, the better you will appear in the interview. If possible, talk to people who work at the company. Try to have a basic grasp of the duties the position will involve and how it contributes to the success of the company. This will enable you to make comments on how your background and talents would fulfil the responsibilities of the position.

Presenting Yourself
Factors like education, experience, salary requirements, relative fit for the position, and communication skills appear in any job interview, regardless of position level. Beside this, a number of other factors have a critical impact on the interviewer. These are factors like first impression, personal appearance, personal chemistry, and motivation and enthusiasm.

First impression. First impression is an imprint that is hard to change. Research has shown that most interviewers will to a great extent make up their mind about a candidate during the first 10 to 20 seconds of the interview. Four nonverbal factors influence a first impression: vocal quality, body posture, eye contact and facial expressions. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake; make eye contact, and use a warm smile. Introduce yourself in a relaxed and confident matter and project an enthusiastic, professional image right from the start. Characteristics that contribute to a professional image are businesslike attire, self-confidence, a sense of humour, warmth, an eager interest in the company, and prompt, concise answers to questions. Try to be a good listener as well as a good talker.

Arriving early makes a good impression. It shows appreciation for the interviewer´s time and is usually interpreted as evidence of your commitment, dependability, and professionalism.

Personal Appearance. It is vital to wear the proper attire to an interview because you will be judged in some respects by what you wear. A well-groomed, professional appearance is essential. Anything else will detract from the best possible presentation you can make. It´s important to dress for the position you want, not the one you have. If possible, find out the dress code of the company you are visiting. Remember that it´s always better to dress too conservatively than not conservatively enough. Decide what to wear well before the day of your interview, which will allow time for dry cleaning or pressing. Many people judge a person by their shoes so make sure your shoes are conservative, clean, and polished. The main thing though is that you feel comfortable and confident in whatever you choose to wear.

Personal Chemistry. Personal Chemistry has an important influence on your success. A major factor in many hiring decisions is how well the employer gets along with the applicant. Does the employer walk away believing that he can see himself working alongside you? To develop a good report, speak clearly, listen closely and show interest. When the employer says something that requires an answer, comment, smile, or nod, show some reaction! Body language is important, too. Sit up straight in your chair, lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact.

Motivation and Enthusiasm. No one likes phony enthusiasm. On the other hand, no company hires individuals who come across as critical or negative (that is one of the most often-heard comments about candidates who are not hired). It is important to treat every interview as if it is the last one you will ever get and your only opportunity to convince the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job. Make sure that you show an eager interest in the company as well as the position by asking pertinent questions. Keep from making negative comments about present or former employers, colleagues or other candidates.

Preparing Yourself Thoroughly
It is crucial to be thoroughly prepared for a job interview since your degree of advance preparation speaks volumes about your interest level and attention to detail. Being well prepared will help you to give articulate answers and ask pertinent questions as well as increase your self-confidence and peace of mind.

Top reasons for Rejections:

  • Evasiveness
  • Lack of confidence or overconfidence
  • Too negative or critical
  • Sloppy résumé
  • Uninformed about the company or organization
  • Overemphasis on compensation or vacation
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  • Poor personal appearance
  • Uncertainty about goals
  • Inability to maintain a conversation
  • Lack of preparation for the interview
  • Lack of tact, maturity and courtesy
  • Condemnation of past employers

Author: Ingrid Kuhlman. Published in Impetus, Moving Forward in March 2001.