After three full weeks at BLT (and a little push from Emma), I’ve decided that it is time to get my first post on the BLT Blog. Looking at some previous posts, Catriona told us about one of her candidate’s slightly unusual experiences on interview.
As someone who only one month ago was running round London from one interview to the next, slightly flustered and overwhelmed, I thought this may be a sensible topic to start with. With so much to think about before, during and after an interview, what are the simple things we can do to make a good impression?
Research from CareerBuilder.co.uk has highlighted the top 10 turn-offs to employers when hiring. So here are some of the things they went for:
1) Failure to make eye contact – an overwhelming 83% put this as their number one turn off. Don’t take this to mean that you have to stare at them as if you were a trained hypnotist trying to get them to act like a chicken, but spending the whole time looking at the floor is a no-no. Eye contact shows you are listening and interested in what they are saying.
2) Failure to smile – Don’t think that you are not allowed to show any emotion in an interview, you have to show the potential employer your personality. 48% of the employers asked chose this option as their biggest turn off, so think of the Cheshire cat’s smile from Alice in Wonderland before you go in.
3) Playing with something on the table – This was chosen by 40% of employers in the survey. Just leave whatever it is alone. Better still leave it on the floor or in your bag, that way you don’t risk flicking a pen at anyone.
4) A weak handshake – In my opinion there is nothing worse, and quite honestly I’m surprised that only 54% put this at number one. You need the employer to be on your side within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. Be assertive and confident with your handshake whilst making eye contact with the interviewer. Bear in mind that it is equally bad if you are too firm and bordering on breaking their hand; as someone nearly did to me just this week.
5) Crossing your arms over your chest – Chosen by 41% and its easy to understand why. Anyone with a slight interest in body language can tell you that sitting with your arms crossed gives a bad impression as you appear closed and disengaged. Try keeping your hands on your lap or on the arms of the chair, this will make it much easier to support your words with gestures.
Aside from the above, other habits voted for included: bad posture, fidgeting too much in your seat and playing with your hair or touching your face.
Interviews are nerve-wracking even without beginning to consider all these points. The best advice I could give to anyone is to be prepared and be aware of what you are saying with your body language. You will always be less worried if you have done your research and feel and look well presented. Remember, an Interview does not mean an interrogation; it is a chance for you to get to know the employer too!