Joanna’s webinar is split into 2 main sections: interview prep and having an impact, with greater emphasis on the second section.
First off, Joanna emphasises that it is incredibly important, before you even get to interview, to ensure that you are putting your efforts into applying for the right roles for you. You can consider this carefully by comparing what you want to get out of the role with what the role is offering. It is important to keep an open mind but, at the same time, make the most of your time by concentrating on your best options.
She explains that it is also possible to think of the interview like a date, i.e., use it as an opportunity to determine: is this the right fit for me?
In terms of actual research before the interview, Joanna states that it is crucial to research and learn everything you can about the organisation or company you’re applying to join. In fact, if you have names for the people or person interviewing you, it is advisable to look them up as well, get a sense of who will be sitting across from you, or on your screen, so that you can put your best foot forward in their eyes.
When it comes to prepping yourself, think about what kinds of skills you will most likely want to talk about, perhaps note down a few key examples of times you have demonstrated those skills well. It seems odd perhaps to be revising your own experiences before an interview, after all, they are your memories! – but you may find that the pressure of a situation like an interview can often cause you to forget key pieces of information, even your own experiences and successes, and having a few prompts jotted down before-hand can help you to stay calm and in control despite being nervous.
Joanna states that you don’t just have to talk about ‘jobs’, it can be voluntary work, personal projects, anything that effectively showcases the skill(s) you are claiming as your own.
Questions for them
Lastly for prep work: know what questions you have for them. Joanna gives examples such as asking about the direction the organisation is going in, or what they (the interviewer) see as the key challenges for the team.
I think it is worth noting that asking about the future of the organisation is an excellent place to start if you’re unsure of what questions to choose – this sends the message that you are someone who is interested in the long-term goals and will likely be committed to the success of the whole organisation not just your own personal success during your time with them. Again, I suggest you jot down a couple of notes for possible questions you might like to ask, as the pressure of the situation can easily cause you to forget simple details like the questions you planned to ask.
Building a Rapport/ Having an Impact.
The minute you turn up at reception or even – Joanna explains – when you arrive in the street outside, you make the first impression. This is the visual element and easily one of the most important.
Remember you may not have much time to make an impact so, make the most of every opportunity to make a good impression.
Joanna then invites attendees to analyse a pair of contrasting outfits, one very dishevelled, one rather neat. She explains that all of our assumptions, whether true or false, are simply based on our visual perceptions, successfully demonstrating how important it is to present the right visual for your interview.
She goes on to say that it is not always necessary to wear a suit – and that the appropriate attire for the interview depends entirely on the nature of the job. It’s really up to you to use your common sense. Whatever you’re going for – think carefully about what your appearance says about you, as there is no outfit that says nothing – everything you wear, do and say feeds into your potential employer’s impression of who you really are.
If you are interviewing virtually, consider what will be visible on camera – mess and clutter send the wrong message, and a highly distracting background may split your interviewer’s attention.
Firstly, consider your posture. You want to appear calm and relaxed even if you are nervous. Try to relax your shoulders. Equally, you want to appear alert and fully engaged, so make sure you are sitting upright and try to remove as many distractions from your environment as possible, if you are interviewing virtually.
Secondly, be aware of your facial expressions. Try not to betray any nerves or any negative reactions you may have during the interview. Joanna explains that this does require quite a bit of self-control but is an important element to get right.
Thirdly, be mindful of your mannerisms. A small habit like fiddling with your hair can be highly distracting and can sometimes betray your trepidation.
Fourthly, think about your hands. The appropriate use of gesture can support your responses and aid communication, particularly if you are on a screen. It will allow you to take up more space, appear confident and engaged. However, if you are waving your hands about above shoulder height then you may give a slightly manic impression.
Lastly, eye-contact. It is really important to get in a comfortable amount of eye-contact. It helps forge a connection and therefore a rapport in a limited time-frame, and is especially important if you are on screen. That said, do not accidentally start a staring match with your interviewer as that may also give a slightly manic impression.
The second thing that strikes people when they first meet someone new, Joanna explains, is the voice. Not what they are saying but how they are saying it. Pitch, tone, pace etc.
To ensure that you give a good vocal impression, you need to speak clearly – not too loud, not too quiet and remember to enunciate. That is especially important if you are online or indeed if you are interviewing in a second language.
You should also try to vary your tone appropriately. Monotonous speech is often a side effect of heightened nervousness, so varying your tone a little will both give the impression that you are calm, whilst also potentially having the added benefit of helping you to actually stay calm.
Lastly, pace. There is no need to race through every answer - if they weren't truly interested in what you have to say, they would not have offered you an interview. Remember to breathe!
Joanna explains that it is very important to listen properly to every question before answering so that you choose the best answer to showcase your skills. Her suggested mnemonic for formulating a good response is CAR: context, action, result.
Joanna also states that including numbers is an effective way of giving a detailed but concise response. I would advise keeping any statistics or figures you may wish to reference handy in case your memory fails you.
Finally, Joanna emphasises the importance of remembering that your interviewer is human too – so when you are giving an example, try to really tell them the story – allow your passion and interest in what you are saying to show so that they may feel inclined to empathise with you or at the very least, start to understand what you are explaining from your perspective – which will massively help with the rapport-building.
I hope this has been a helpful summary of Joanna’s webinar, and that you feel bolstered and confident as you go on to pursue the next steps in your career.
Explore more resources that Joanna has on offer at: https://insideoutimage.co.uk