I have had the opportunity to sit on many job interview panels for employers who are hiring administrative professionals. What have I learned? A prospective candidate has just seconds to make a good first impression and minutes to persuade an interviewer to consider hiring him/her for the vacant position. There can be many qualified applicants for one position. Therefore, deliberate interview preparation must take place prior to the interview.
From my interviewing experience, it’s not the perfectly rehearsed answer to an interview question that persuades me to recommend a particular candidate. It is finding someone who will be good in the role and can “fit” into the corporate culture that ranks highest on my list when interviewing candidates. It is also important that candidates demonstrate confidence, evidence of skills and experience, and enthusiasm for their career choice. Work teams, businesses, governments, and customers will be best served hiring candidates who are good at what they do.
Let’s take a moment to talk about enthusiasm! Interviews can make candidates jittery. In fact, most candidates are nervous during job interviews. That is expected! However, the nervousness does lessen with diligent preparation and practice. Once a candidate is able to demonstrate less nervousness and more confidence during the interview, I recommend a candidate display enthusiasm and passion.
The candidate who communicates in a style that is reserved and shy often gives brief interview responses. These candidates can also appear less excited about the position, employer, and work. As stated earlier, interview applicants may only have a few “seconds” to make a positive first impression. It’s critical that the candidate’s enthusiasm and passion for the work being described be felt by all members of the interview team. Strong eye-contact with each member of the interview team is also important.
While teaching college professional development courses, my students periodically conducted peer-to-peer-mock interviews. These mock interviews provided students with an inside look at their potential competition in the job market. My students were able to tell who in the class was prepared versus not prepared and excited about their career choice. I encourage job applicants to reach out to family members, friends, or coworkers to practice role playing in an effort to maximize their next job interview preparation. If you have a video-recording device or smartphone, use it during your practice interviews. Watching yourself on video can be a powerful motivator to polish up your responses and improve your non-verbal communication skills.
Over the years, I have helped coach many students and administrative professionals prepare for employment interviews. Top candidates set themselves apart throughout the interview process by using their active listening skills to respond to questions completely as well as demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for what they do.
Hiring the wrong employee can be costly to any employer! In fact, it can impact the bottom line for businesses. Employers have a responsibility to their shareholders, customers, and employees to hire the right person for the job.
Job hunting takes time. Remain optimistic. Do not give up! The more interview candidates research and prepare, the more successful they will be in securing employment.