Whether for a job or promoting your services never doubt the importance of making a good first impression.Interview success - PiPS

This is a slightly longer post than normal but I have had such a strong response to the previous interview article I felt it was worthwhile to offer more.  In the previous article we looked at a few points of interview technique, here are some more for the before and after.

Needless to say nothing is ever as useful as real preparation work person to person but if that is not possible at the moment here are some important points to get you in the right frame of mind.

Do pay due consideration to what you will wear; like it or not people do make judgements on this; I appreciate that much of this will appear obvious but just bear with me and tick off the points, just to be sure.

Wear a suit if at all possible; easy on the eye and simple.  White (very white!) shirts work well as does a splash of colour but please check out with someone else a colour that actually suits you – you will want to look the picture of health and colour helps.

Do have a haircut and clean your shoes, basic yes, but a dead giveaway of your self esteem.  Always show that you have made an effort – it is a compliment if they notice and at the very least you will feel good, and that really does matter

Why is all this so important? 

Because you are showing them that you take yourself seriously, that you have high standards and know the worth the small things.  They can be confident when they put you in front of clients that you will be a great ambassador for them and potentially win them business funding.

The bottom line is that if you are not taking yourself seriously; why should they?

Accept that from the moment you leave home for the interview you are ‘on’.  Start your journey in the same manner that you will enter the room.  Alert and interested.  Do not underestimate the benefit of reading something that engages before the interview or indeed the benefit of walking in the fresh air at some point of the journey.  Walk upright and fill your lungs.  It known that fresh air particularly around trees and greenery generally promotes the secretion of favourable hormones in humans so when you come in from a walk it is not just the exercise that has done you good.  Listening to something engaging on the radio or iPod equally helps – listening to smart conversation often rubs off on the listener.

Once you arrive anywhere near the event be absolutely clear that future colleagues and even interviewers may be around.    Here is a scenario that is worth bearing in mind – happily you have arrived in the area a little early and so go for a coffee in the local Costa Coffee and are unthinkingly rude to the baristas; you don’t mean to be but you are tense and distracted.  Unfortunately for you one of the interview panel is waiting for their coffee to take into the building and witness the exchange, how rude they think and put it out of their mind.  Until of course, you walk into the room.  Just know you may be being observed and make sure at every point you are conducting yourself with dignity and style.

As you arrive at the venue, preferably with ten minutes to spare, greet other interviewees and any staff in your confident but not booming overly jolly manner.  Make yourself comfortable and relax, this is a moment in life it is not life itself.  The very best way to manage yourself is to think of this as a life experience that is to be savoured and learnt from.  Engage with the experience and that will translate in delivery.   I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with who inadvertently spent the whole time, in interview and just before, trying to speed through the experience just to come out the other side.  That, as you might imagine, causes everything to be rushed from entering and leaving the room right through to how they answer a question.

Pause, slow down, breath and experience.

I would like to take a moment here to just talk about the nerves some of us feel at times like this and hope that you will be suitably impressed by the wonder of humans.

When you have a thought (it might be flight or fight here) your body responds accordingly, never let it be said that the mind cannot control the body! The butterflies in your stomach are caused by blood being diverted to more necessary tasks, away from digestion which it can catch up on later and towards your limbs  and lungs in case you should decide to make a run for it.  Blood rushes to your brain, to improve sight and hearing and offers you hyper vigilance.  This is great news as it gets you into optimum condition to think and analyse.  Just be careful here to keep it all in perspective goes too far on the nerves and anxiety starts to cloud your mind and we will be back to the old place of speeding through too quickly to get it over with – that would be flight then!

What if you feel it is all going wrong?

If you make a mistake the most important thing to do is put it behind you, apologise if it is appropriate, but only once.  Once the moment is over do not take the panel back to an earlier mistake.

Suppose, that regardless of your best efforts, you arrive late for your appointment.  You are late anyway so slow down and catch your breath, try not to go into the interview immediately.  Apologise and explain, truthfully, what the issue was, a delay that is out of your hands is always useful.  We have all been at the mercy of such a thing and one apology is enough.  Of course if the panel are unforgiving you might ask yourself do you actually want to work with them?

If you answered a question badly, ask if you might return to it at the earliest moment but after that let it go.  More opportunities are wasted by minds distracted by something that happened previously, it is wise to just move forward.

Think of a time when you were in a meeting and something said held you back from the next topic raised.  While you were wondering about that last issue you missed the start of the next one and ended up out of the loop?   Most of us have done this from time to time, but when the interview is all about you, you cannot afford to lose the next question.  So just put it behind you and stay in real time only.

As the interview comes to an end you may be asked if you have further questions.  There really is no rule here regardless of what people will suggest.  Since this is really a mature  conversation, and if we accept that it is, consider whether you would feel obliged to ask a question to end a conversation?  A question for the sake of talking is dull but a question that one cannot find out the answer to so easily is engaging.  I hope that by this time you have made your mark and that should be enough.  If you have a relevant question then of course jump on in.  I say relevant, and again I hope this is obvious but just in case, questions on the amount of annual leave and benefits and the like are not worthwhile questions at this point!

So you get up and leave, in a positive and energetic manner, making sure you smile, a genuine one, and you leave.

Whether you are subsequently successful or not, please celebrate.  If you get the job, great, enjoy the moment.  If you do not get the job congratulate yourself on the effort made, hold in your mind all you have learnt for next time.

I want to say that always, always it is absolutely not about falling down it is about getting up again; however many times it might take.  Successful people embrace failure in so much as it shows they are pushing boundaries, and themselves, and no one ever really succeeds without pushing out of their comfort zones.

And of course, by now I hope it goes without saying if I can offer more please just pick up the telephone 01737 831700 or drop an email to PiPS@PoliceintoPrivateSector.co.uk or through our contact page.



Angela Hackett  –  On behalf of the PiPS Team