It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who are either ill-prepared or in fact not prepared at all for an interview. I am not speaking about a “knowledge of the job” or company they are interested in, but more presentation. Particularly senior executives who have placed little attention on the detail of creating a positive first impression which needs to be “enduring”. Enduring so the interviewer remembers what you looked like, how you presented and how your behaviours would fit well with the hiring organisation. You see, most senior appointments have a job content that includes leadership. Leadership is about creating impressions that sit well with the audience of that person. Rarely do people in leadership who create poor impressions lead people effectively.
So what am I banging on about…To be successful at interview you must present well, be commanding and create a lasting impression. We have all heard the catch line “Dress for Success”, well it is a concept that is not just made up. Irrespective of what you may think of him but Donald Trump wrote a bestselling auto- biography called “The Art of the Deal””. In that book, he speaks about “presenting” in a way that reflects the respect you have for your audience. If you are meeting a CEO then you dress like you think a CEO may dress. If you don’t know, then find out! It’s not hard. And whilst I am at it, “presentation” is far more than the way you dress. It is also the way you engage. Confidence, gesturing, the way you frame your questions or the way you “harmonise” with your interviewer, all contribute to the success of your candidacy.
I have found over the years that the most inspiring candidates are the ones that get this right. They are professionals in how they prepare for the interview. They find out about the person or persons who they are meeting with. They enquire about their dress sense, about their manner, about what type of questions will be asked. They scope the nature of the interview and whether there will be any “curly” questions…They put themselves within reach of winning the offer! It is as much about being confident as it is at having the right look and that goes down to even the way you express yourself with your body language.
Think about this, if you were interviewing you, would you be impressed? Few would be, and a large number can do a lot better. Most candidates will attend an interview well and truly “under-done”. In preparing for an interview you are minimising the risk associated with not getting an offer. The better prepared you are, the closer you are to winning the appointment. Know the job specification, understand the people specification and then like Donald Trump says…”give them what they want!”
If you prepare well and you present well, you will position yourself well.
Paul O’Loughlin – Executive Consultant