It’s winter here in Canada and if you are doing the interview circuit, you need to be prepared.
There is nothing worse than sniffling during a conversation. You try to be subtle by wiggling your nose or casually wiping your sleeve near your nose but face it: there is no substitute for a tissue. So start each day by putting one in your pocket, sleeve or bra strap.
If you have a bit of a cough or a tickle (and who doesn’t these days?), then put some lozenges or tic tacs in your pocket, purse or briefcase. You can pop one while you are waiting for your meeting to start. It will give you something to do with your hands.
Make sure you give yourself extra time before the interview but don’t hang around the reception area – that’s not cool. Plan to take a few minutes in the lobby for your body temperature to sort itself out. Your face and hands will be cold but your armpits will be working overtime so rather than greet the person you are meeting with cold hands and the tell-tale half moons of nervousness, spend a few minutes in the lobby. Take off your coat, blow your nose and wait until everything comes to room temperature. Then head upstairs to announce your presence.
Finally, no matter how much of a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks fan you are, don’t take your coffee into the meeting unless you are prepared to offer some to the other person.
So to sum up: arrive early, finish your latte in the lobby, pop a tic tac and set yourself up for a great conversation.
I polled a couple of colleagues today and was surprised at the rapid pile of responses I got to “biggest interview mistakes”.
These are real life examples. I am not making them up. Promise.
- leaving your phone on during an interview
- taking a call on that phone while you are in an interview
- forgetting to do up your middle button
- having lettuce in your teeth
- arriving late
- not knowing who you are meeting
- wearing clothes that don’t fit
- being drunk
- interrupting the interviewer
- sweaty palms
- speaking too quickly
- rambling – if you can’t remember the question, you have talked too long
- offensive jokes
- asking about other possible roles in the company
- using LinkedIn to connect with the hiring manager or president before the interview
All of these can be avoided with two simple steps. Prepare the day before and do a 360 review with a mirror before you get to the interview location.
In fact, these steps are pretty sensible for any meeting Go ahead and practice. You will be happy you did.
How was your year? Seriously. How was it? What did you do? What did you learn?
When asked this question at a cocktail party or an interview, many people go blank and it is a big missed opportunity.
Don’t even think about saying “same old, same old”. Not only is it probably not true, it just shows that you are too lazy to think of something interesting.
If you did something big like change jobs, then it’s easy. You can ride the “new job” train for about nine months and then it’s not new anymore. For everyone else, you need to actually spend some time looking at your calendar from February and April and those other months you can’t remember.
All the memories will come flooding back: that awful conference, that great presentation, the month your boss was away and you got to take over. Those are the things you need to be able to talk about.
You might even want to work them into your resume. At the very least, practice telling the story about the things that you did. I am not suggesting that you bore your cousins to death by telling them the minute details of how you implemented a new quality assurance standard. Just distill it into a couple of sound bites. Those typically go well with eggnog and cookies.
So flip through Outlook and make a list. You might be surprised. Maybe it was a pretty good year after all.