Just finished interviewing my umpteenth candidate for our Public Affairs intern position. It never fails to amaze me at the calibre of the individuals who apply to join us and yet how many of them fail to impress during the interview. Why is it that straight A students can’t look me in the eye? Why do so many graduates have limp handshakes? Why do young people with fantastic CVs lack confidence?
OK, so being brilliant at exams doesn’t guarantee social success (and one could argue that all those hours spent swotting actually diminishes your interpersonal skills) but first impressions do count.
For all those future interviewees, here’s ten ways that you can impress me
- Enter the room with purpose, smile, shake my hand firmly and look me in the eye
- Make sure you have read the job description and ask yourself “how do my skills and competencies match up to it?” (I know you’re not highly skilled, but neither is the job)
- Everybody who applies to Keene has great academic qualifications. So the First Class Honours won’t be a clincher. Sorry.
- Ditto everyone who applies tells me they’re a “hard worker”. It’s an obvious answer so try and come up with something different
- Having been around the interviewing block a few times, I’ll probably throw a few curved balls at you. Don’t panic and don’t flannel. I like honesty and it sometimes takes real strength of character to say “I don’t know”
- www.keenepa.co.uk. It’s our website address and should tell you all you need to know about us. So please, spend a little time reading it before you come to the interview
- We want to know the real you. Not the manufactured version. Tell me about yourself. Try and give me an insight into the sort of person you are, ie, what makes you tick. Tip. If you don’t know the answer, you may not be ready for the outside world yet, let alone Keene
- You may not have had many interviews so you should try and get some practice. You must know someone who can help you to prepare. Another tip. Your parents might have attended one in their day and will probably be very keen to help you get a job.
- I’ll ask at the end of the interview, “Do you have any questions for me?” (I don’t know why, it’s just interview etiquette). So here’s another chance to impress. Think of a question that makes me think and you’ll leave a better impression on me than “Yes. When do I start?”
- Interviews are not a great way of recruiting but they’re the best we’ve got. So grab the 30 minutes on offer and really go for it. You’ve nothing to lose and, heh, you might be working at Keene next week
These top tips are from Keene’s MD, Simon Quarendon.