Recently a close friend of mine asked me for interview advice. As we all know, nailing the interview is the key factor to making a positive career move.
There is a great scene in the movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’, a film which shows the value of determination and hard work, where Will Smith’s character Chris Gardner interviews for an internship. His situation leading up to the interview is not an ideal one, however (SPOILER ALERT) based on this interview and his character, he gets the job.
Please see my Pursuit of Happiness-inspired interview tips below:
As well as researching the company, learn more about the individual(s) you will meet. Use the many tools available to prepare, e.g. LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, or talk to staff or ex-staff of that company. Even though Chris Gardner has no relevant experience in finance through research, self-study and networking he has put himself in the best position to get the job.
If you try to be somebody you are not, it may come across badly. An interview is a two-way process; it’s a chance for you to learn more about a potential employer. So if there is no chemistry, perhaps that position is not the one for you. Chris is extremely earnest and honest about who he is, ultimately this is a key reason why he is hired.
When Chris enters the room, he takes the effort to go around to each interviewer and greet them individually with a handshake. Throughout the interview he also makes sure that he addresses each individual in the room. Establish rapport early, and you will grab the interviewers’ attention.
Candidates sometimes feel like they need to bend the truth with regards to their experience and achievements. This can come back to hurt you later on down the track. When Chris gets asked about his poor appearance he considers making up a story but instead he tells the truth about his bad luck that day. Many of you wouldn’t tell your future employer that you’ve just been arrested before an interview, but I’ll leave it to your judgement!
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At one point in the interview, Chris feels his chance slipping as his education and credentials are questioned. He recovers by telling them about the qualities that will make him successful in the job.
Expect the unexpected. When Chris gets asked, “What would you say if a guy walked in for an interview without a shirt on, and I hired him?”, his response is natural, humorous and very appropriate given the situation. "He must have had on some really nice pants. Go with the flow and be prepared to answer non-routine questions.
Chris has a personality that displays genuine passion and persistence. He arrived unannounced for a whole month just to get his foot in the door, passion = interest in the eyes of potential employers. It’s also important that you practice your interview technique; practice does make perfect.
If appropriate, ask the interviewer for their feedback and understand the next steps in the interview process. Be sure to re-confirm your interest in the role, and send a short thank-you note after the interview.
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