You are ready for your interview. Your dress is perfect. Your answers are well rehearsed. You’ve researched the company. You know you’re qualified for the job.
A snag hits when you arrive. They can’t find your name on the security list. It takes several calls to reach the right person. Now you’re going to be late. You get frustrated. You say a few unkind words to the receptionist. You get short with the assistant who has come to get you. These “little” people have impacted your composure.
Or are they? In an interview, there are no “little” or insignificant people. Everyone you meet while job hunting is important, whether directly in the interview or not.
You meet lots of people in your travels to and from the interview or workplace, meetings, social occasions and everywhere else. It’s easy to only think to impress the people you have a specific appointment with. Those are indeed the ones that you prep for.
But what about the others? As you enter the building, sign into security, announce yourself to the assistant, people walking the halls? You really don’t know who they are or what influence they have.
The key is that every one of these people may have something to say about whether or not you get hired. This goes on all the time. The interviewer wants to know what the “real” you is like, so asks around to those they know you “encountered.” They get another view of you as a team player or fitting their culture.
Ages ago when I first went through sales training, I still remember a lesson from a video called “Who lost the sale?” A cocky salesman was bad mouthing a potential client on the bus ride after the sales call. The client’s secretary (they were called that then) just happened to be sitting directly in front of him and started listening closely. Of course, he didn’t recognize her. He hadn’t noticed or engaged with her in the office. She was “beneath” the boss client he had an appointment with and she didn’t count – or so he thought. She counted plenty when she reported back and he lost the sale.
Don’t let that be you. Here are some guidelines:
Interviews start in the waiting room
One of the biggest mistakes job hunters make is thinking an interview starts behind the closed door. You are being observed as soon as you step through the door, and possibly before. It’s important to be engaging and friendly to anyone you meet, whether it’s the receptionist or the assistant who escorts you down the hallway.
You never know who you’re talking to
The person who walks in to hand the interviewer a document may be discreetly checking you out because your intended position effects hers. Many encounters don’t look “planned” but are. If someone talks to you, they are important.
Make a Connection
An interview is as much about chemistry as it is about having the skills to do the job. They are only going to interview people talented enough for the position, so you’re already in the cluster for consideration.
It’s about establishing a quick, emotional bond so that they like you better than the other candidates. That means with every person you encounter. Be friendly. But keep it light. Don’t start a serious conversation in the hallway. Show your personality, not your competence. Save that for the interview.
If you go to an interview and treat some individuals as less important that others, you are courting disaster. Even the most subtle condescension will be noticed and remembered long past your qualifications.
This attitude is as important in life as well as a job interview. Remember the Golden Rule? If you regard everyone with respect and give them the personal attention you’d like to have (and they deserve), you can’t go wrong. Everyone has something to offer you, even if it’s a life lesson.
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of the Career Clarity ebook series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook Find Your Career Passion.
In her non-work time, Diane wrote three Tasting Journals to take on her weekend and vacation tasting adventures – Wine Travels, Craft Spirits and Craft Beer. They are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.