View from the board: how to impress at interview

Although a little adrenalin sharpens performance, too much is not generally
conducive to performing well at an interview. We’ve all at one time or another
walked out of an interview thinking ‘oh dear’ (or words to that effect) because
we knew we’d blown it. But there are lots of things that you can do to make sure
chance is on your side.

The first, and most important, is to write your CV properly. Many prospective
employers don’t really know how to interview. That’s why people like me get
asked to do it for them. Most people will interview from your CV, but because
most people write one CV and don’t change it until they look for their next
role, their CVs are often not their best sales tool.

Someone once told me that you should update your resume every six months.
Certainly, you should update your CV whenever you have achieved something you
want to be asked about. That way, you can steer the flow of an interview towards
the topics and achievements that you most want to focus on.

As an interviewer, I want people to be enthusiastic, and to tell me all about
the great things they have achieved in their career. As an interviewee, you’ll
make that situation much more likely if you write it down on your CV. And don’t
ever think you can’t help lead the interview. If you aren’t asked the right
questions, steer the meeting towards it, or ask it rhetorically.

Remember too that you can rescue any situation. What seems like a huge deal
for you won’t be an issue for the person interviewing you. I hate being late,
and whenever I am, I find it hard to relax for the first twenty minutes of a
meeting. Yet when someone is late to meet me, as long as they apologise, I don’t
give it a second thought.

While I am not, of course, recommending that you be late, I would urge you
not to panic if you are. The same would be true if you spilled your water, or if
your mobile went off.

There are lots of other pointers: be concise, answer the question, prepare
well, write your CV for the job you are interviewing for, dress smartly, email
afterwards. These are all crucial as well and I wouldn’t want to ignore them.
But you wouldn’t believe the number of people I meet who don’t write down their
most important achievements on their CVs. Too obvious? Apparently not …

Mark Freebairn is a partner at Odgers Ray &

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