Interviews on the outside …..  hmmmm    Interview in progress

I sent a note out a couple of weeks ago to the members subscribed on the website (lots more to see over there!) I asked what burning questions they had and I was delighted to receive so many responses. I will try to address some of them over the next few posts in the hope it will be of use to more of you.

I was asked how to prepare for interview. Clearly this is a huge area to cover so here I will offer – Interview Lite! But of course if you want more than do get in touch directly on 01737 831700 or email.

Interview support is important to PiPS members as, after a long career in one area, often there has been little need for interview skills. Even if you have sat through promotion boards what was appropriate in that setting will probably not be of much use in the private sector; this is a different beast entirely. So here I have covered just one aspect of interviews because to cover it all would take a great deal longer that a blog post!

First and foremost put yourself in the place of the interviewer before you start. What would you want outside of the ability to do the actual job? You would want the process to be made as easy as possible for you wouldn’t you?
I am presuming at this point you have done your due diligence and you know about the company and what is happening for them at present – Google – but look beyond the first page and of course go to good old LinkedIn and search the companies section.

Here then are some of my top points thereafter;

  •  Be clear as you enter the interview arena that this is at this stage this is their game to play. You have now decided you would like to be picked for the figurative netball or football team. Now it is time to show them what an asset you would be to the team and in fact have the potential to be their star player. 
  • And so you are walking into the interview room. As you knock and enter pause for a moment and take in the room and the interviewers.
  • As mentioned this is their ‘game’ and do not stride over and offer a handshake. If they invite you to a handshake of course step forward – take their lead.
  • Wait to be invited to take a seat, we hope that they are on the ball here but if not step towards the designated chair and just put your hand on the back and move it slightly. In body language terms this is asserting your area and claiming what will be your space, it reminds the board (unconsciously) that you are an active participant and not a passive observer. Sound petty? Just trust me I know my stuff and this is just one of the small details that make a big difference.
  • Once seated do all the things that you know you should. Answer the question looking at the person who asked it, make good eye contact but do not become fixated with this. Think about how in a normal unpressurised conversation you look at each other’s faces without being overt.
  • Consider what you are doing with your hands, and here is the alarming part, when we are anxious we tend to try to comfort and protect ourselves. So you might look down and find yourself holding your own hand (think of the child) or clutching one fist tightly (think of the fighter) or most commonly (particularly for men for some reason) covering our genitals. A great way to understand what your ‘tell’ is to get someone to video you (or do it yourself) yes I know it is all a bit unnerving and we can feel a bit self conscious but it is invaluable at getting a better view of ourselves. 
  • Some minutes into the interview take note of how you are sitting, slumped perhaps or more likely curled in ourselves. Where are your feet? Women often twist their feet around each other and men can often sit with their legs just too far apart.

Why is this all so important? They all seem like such small points but together they form a picture of you. The issue is that the panel or interviewer will be taking all this in unconsciously. That’s just how humans work. I am sure you are aware of how academic minds have broken down how we understand each other.

The psychology professor Albert Mehrabian become widely quoted for his assertion that there is a mix of communication tools, verbal and non verbal that come together to make a message congruent. This has come to be known as the 7%-38%-55% rule . That for something to be seen as congruent and believable it will be made up of 7% content, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language. Even if this is dismissed as not scientifically provable, it as close as matters to be taken seriously.

So if you reaction to stress is one of defensiveness your body language will deliver that message without you even really being aware of it. And it may deliver to the panel an interviewee with all the hallmarks of a person not being entirely truthful. There is a real need to get your mind set to one of confidence even if you are not entirely convinced. 

If you would like more – you know where we are so get in touch.

This covers one aspect of interviewing – as mentioned this area is huge and needs particular attention dependant on how keen you are to get the job I suppose. If I get a strong response to this I will offer more in a future post so do let me know.
Warm regards


Angela Hackett   –  on behalf of the PiPS Team