Mind Your (Interview) Manners: Part 2

February 1, 2011

How not to botch that critical point of the application process

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

Your job interview will determine your success in your job application. You must be able to sell yourself to the interviewer to convince him / her that your are the right person for the job. Everything that can help must be considered and displaying the right manners may give you the winning edge.

As a job interviewer, I learned to master the art of reading body languages and body signs. Not only do I listen to what the applicant say, but I also assess how the interviewee conduct himself / herself during the process.

I have always stressed the importance of being prepared for a job interview. You need to bring all the necessary documents, but most important of all, never fail to bring a lot of “common sense”.

How to Handle Your Job Interview:

Do not interrupt when the interviewer is talking. I remember there was one applicant who does all the talking that I never got the chance to open my mouth. Then there was another one who always interrupted and finished all my sentences for me. If you think this is one strategy to buy time, it won’t work. The interviewer may just think that you are acting fresh or being too aggressive.

Do not get drawn into an argument. If you don’t agree with what the interviewer is saying, you may state your position then move to the next topic. Don’t be too pushy or act manipulative. The worst I’ve encountered was when I interviewed a candidate who argued with everything I said—even before I had a chance to finish what I was saying!

Smile and be as relaxed and composed as possible. Refrain from looking out the window or glancing at your watch during the interview. When I interview applicants who do not look at me, I presume that they are not listening, or are probably just trying to hurry me up.

Show warmth and genuine interest. If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, I’m sorry but appearing “Poker Face” won’t work. It leaves the interviewer guessing whether you understood what was discussed. Give verbal feedback so the interviewer will know that you are paying close attention to the conversation (say “Yes,” “That’s right,” “I agree,” or “I understand”).

Respect the interviewer’s personal space. Do not stand or sit too close. Moreover, refrain from toying with the interviewer’s personal things. Refrain from touching wall paintings, trophies, plants or anything you find fanciful in the office. I will not forget an applicant who touched and broke my glass paperweight. It is not actually pricey, but it was a gift from my wife!

Ask questions. This will confirm your interest in the position. If something is vague, you may ask for clarification. However, do not ask too many questions. You may pose at least two or three intelligent questions throughout the interview.

Do not stare at the interviewer. You may maintain eye contact, but staring is unethical. The interviewer may get distracted or feel annoyed. I remember I interviewed an applicant who kept staring at me from top to the bottom. She looked as if she was appraising me! I was wondering if I have dirt on my face, a tear in my polo, an open zipper, mud on my shoes, etc.

Let the interviewer tell his / her story. If the interviewer seems excited talking about himself / herself, let him / her be. Listen well, and try to read between the lines. Watch your body language. Show you are listening by leaning a little forward towards the interviewer. Keep your arms uncrossed, and maintain good eye contact. Smile, nod, or laugh with the interviewer.

When there are many qualified applicants, the interviewer may base his / her decision on your manners. This is justified since your interview behaviour is indicative of your personality. If you do not take care to conduct yourself professionally while being scrutinized then it is only to be expected that you will do worse in the future. Small things may mean a lot.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)



Mind Your (Interview) Manners

January 28, 2011

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

Almost all people who work (except for two groups of people) will undergo or have undergone a job interview.

The first group exempted from these are those who start their own businesses (and even then some of them come from jobs), and the second are the “trust fund babies” born to wealthy parents with trust funds that ensure that all their financial needs will be taken care of in their lifetime. They are so secure financially, that some are studying just to pass the time.

So unless you are a trust fund baby, I suggest you read on to learn the tactics on how to survive your job interview.

Presenting yourself for a job interview can really be scary. It is a make-or-break situation; if you commit a blunder, there is, often, no more second chance. You have to stand out to get the job you really want.

I have been impressed by so many application forms sent by jobseekers. However, some of them are total disasters when they present themselves for the job interview.

I remember one time when I was interviewing a job applicant, I asked her the question “What are your hobbies?” I was surprised when she stood up and sang in front of me. Of course, I got that her hobby was singing, but I was scared out of my wits!

Another funny incident was when I was discussing remuneration to an applicant. I declared how much we are offering him for a salary, but he insisted on getting a lower figure. It was quite hilarious! I was convinced that I should hire him, but when he demoted himself in front of me, I thought otherwise.

Then there’s another one who came with one sock missing. He said he was in such a hurry that he forgot to put on the other sock. Another one kept chewing and blowing his bubble gum throughout the entire interview. It was quite disgusting.

One applicant culminated our interview with a firm handshake. Yes, there is nothing wrong with that, except that his hands were really sweaty, so it grossed me out. I guess, the people I mentioned were advised to “be different” to get the job. But obviously this kind of “being different” didn’t work.

Here are some practical job interview tips to help improve your chances of getting hired:

Make sure you have eaten so you won’t faint during the interview. You never know how long it will be before you will be called so better play it safe.

Empty your bladder before proceeding with the interview. This helps a lot in releasing your tension and it will not make a good impression if you have to go to the wash room in the middle of the interview.

Come at least 15 minutes before your interview appointment. If you came late because of whatever reason, apologize immediately. Do not curse yourself in front of the interviewer. Putting yourself down is likely to brand you as a loser as you are confirming it yourself.

If lunch or dinner is part of the interview, mind your manners. Avoid chewing loudly or grabbing at food.

During the interview, if something said is funny, do not laugh loudly; it will reflect poorly on your conduct and disturb any other employees present or nearby who can influence the hiring.

Do not make a fool of yourself in front of the interviewer. Never sing or dance, unless you are applying as a singer or dancer.

Talk audibly. Avoid mumbling or whispering.

Never dominate the interview. Avoid giving lengthy answers to questions. Make your point in 60 seconds if you can.

Relax. Repeat after me. Relax. You may be tense, but go and get it over with. Sit up straight, and do all in your power to resist your desire to run. If you are too nervous, make sure you do not show it. Do not tremble in front of your interviewer. If you believe you are shaking, do not hold a ball pen or paper, so the interviewer doesn’t get distracted by your shaking hands. You may place your hands in between your knees, as this would keep both your hands and knees from shaking.

Be a good listener. If you failed to hear or understand a question, do not say “What?” or “Ha?” You may politely say, “Pardon me, but could you repeat the question?” Pause a few seconds before answering so you could gather your thoughts before answering the question.

Be candid. Always include specific facts, details, and examples, when providing information. There is a good chance that they will be validated and so be truthful.

Liven up the interview. Be humorous if this seems acceptable to the interviewer. However, avoid “green” or dirty jokes. Use your own funny experiences.

Avoid jargon and other words that are difficult to understand. Especially avoid idiomatic expressions.

Always maintain eye contact. However, refrain from staring. Also, keep your mouth closed when you are not talking. This is to keep you from drooling in front of the interviewer.

• A final tip, for now, is to make sure you bring along at least two IDs and various sizes of pictures, and make sure that the picture looks like you.

Your preparation for an interview must be as thorough as possible. It is not enough to be just yourself and rely on your credentials, nor is it sufficient to just do well on the interview. It is about the survival of the fittest for the slots are limited and many are just as qualified.

Take the above advice to heart and find other useful ways to boost your chances. It may turn out that doing your homework will provide you with the winning edge.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)