Getting your personality across at interviews

Congratulations you have reached the interview stage, you can deduce several things from this. Firstly that the company are interested in what you have to offer, they have read your CV and covering letter and they have liked what they has seen. You will also have lost much of the competition, as only approximately 15% of applicants reach this stage.

Having established that you have the fundamental qualifications for the job, you have to build upon this and impress the interviewers with your personality.

The purpose of an interview is for the employer to meet you in person and evaluate whether your personality will fit in at their company. For you an interview is a chance to impress and see if this company has an environment in which you would like to work.

First impressions
Research by psychologists has shown that people decide what they think of you within four minutes of a first meeting, therefore is very important to make a good impression right from the start.

Get all of your preparation out of the way well in advance, and allow plenty of time to get to the interview so that you arrive in a cool calm state. Arrive ten minutes early and use the bathroom facilities to smarten your appearance. You will not be so nervous if you are well prepared and look your best.

Confidence is the magic word, if you are confident then you will be relaxed and able to talk lucidly about yourself, you will be able to look the interviewer in the eyes, you will not fidget - you will have the potential to clinch the job.

If you are not feeling very self assured just think, you wouldn't have reached the interview stage if you didn't possess the attributes that the company desire. Looking your best and being well prepared should help, so that when you meet the interviewer you will be able to great them openly with a smile, look them in the eyes and shake their hand.

Do not be too cock sure, excess confidence can come across as arrogance which is not an attractive trait as it implies that you are not a good team player.

Multiple personalities
The subject of this article is 'how to get your personality across'. However an employer will be looking for different personality traits depending on the type of job to which you are applying. For example, sales personnel have to be very outgoing and sociable, and these characteristics are not so necessary for a software engineer. If your natural personality is not really suitable for the job to which you are applying then you should seriously reconsider the direction of your career because otherwise you may not be happy in the long term.

Attractive features that are desirable to all employers include:

Confidence - This can be expressed in so many ways. Look the interviewer in the eyes, shake their hand firmly. Be chatty and lucid, sit with good straight posture with your hands on your lap, be precise in your answers do not 'Um and ah'. Confidence comes with experience, so tell the interviewer about difficult situations that you negotiated in your previous jobs, perhaps even mention your world travels or a time you held a position of power within an organisation.

Approachability - To express approachability be friendly and open, smile and pleasantly greet everyone you are introduced to. Perhaps you trained other personnel in your other job, or were a counselor at college, recount an occasion when professionally someone came to you with their problem.

Sense of humor - Do not set about cracking jokes, but be responsive if the interviewer makes a humorous comment (even if it is not very funny). If you can subtly incorporate humor which is not at the expense of anyone else then do so, but bear in mind that this is a business interview and you should be professional.

Responsibility/trustworthiness - These qualities cannot be really seen in a person, but you can recount the times in your previous jobs that you have held positions of responsibility. For example any job in which you had personnel beneath you, or if you were a scout/Guide leader.

Initiative/leadership - These qualities are linked to confidence, but in addition show the employer examples of times you have used these skills and have prospered as a result. For example, you worked on a software solution to a work problem in your own time and it turned out to increase the efficiency of the task by 60%.

Body language
A first impression can be greatly influenced by a person's body language. You are in trouble if all the right things are coming from your mouth, but your body is doing all the wrong things.


Do's Don'ts

If you see any of the following, the chances are you'll have to work harder to convince the interviewer you are the person for the job:

Chat to the interviewer when they first meet you and take you to their office. After the interview confirm when you can expect to hear a decision from them, then move the conversation on to another matter. There is no definitive formula for interview success, just be relaxed and friendly, the easiest way to get your personality across is to be yourself.

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