Back to Basics: Interviews

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Every single day we are inundated with news of brand new developments and innovations. It doesn’t do in this modern life to stand still, as someone brighter and better is bound to come along and sweep you into the gutter. Or at least that is what we are lead to believe.

One of reasons people tout this belief is because it’s very difficult to have the monopoly on common sense. Much like the world of health and fitness, you cannot package ‘Eat healthily and do regular exercise’ as a brand new and innovative concept.

We have all heard the phrase back to basics. It may well cause some of you to recall a certain speech made by a former UK minister extolling the virtues of what he’d decided were the basics. Others may vaguely recall an album in which Christina Aguilera overextends herself just a little.

For most of us though, back to basics doesn’t have any especial hidden meaning. It is merely an invitation to return to something more stripped down and minimalistic than the wacky ideas or the new methods of convoluted new age thinking that we are occasionally smothered by. However embracing the fundamentals can remind yourself what is really important and allow you to be more confident about yourself and your capabilities.

As I am a recruiter I should probably find some way to tie this into what I do for a living. For instance when it comes to interviews, a simple five minute search on interview tips via Google will ensure that you’ll have your head spun eight ways to Sunday by the barrage of conflicting advice.

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The only thing that needs to happen is to put the best you forward, by going back to basics:

  • Give your interviewer eye contact, smiles and try to relax, if at all possible. You can do it in friendly company after all and believe it or not, those in the questioning chair want you to do well. They want you to be the right person for their organisation because that means their long search is not only over but also worthwhile
  • Breathe and take your time when it comes to coming up with answers. Better to think about it for a few moments than blurt out whatever it is you think they want to hear
  • Preparation is key: bring with you a printed copy of your CV, the job description and the notes you’ve made on the company and whatever questions you’ve come up with – always come up with a surplus of questions to ask at the end in case some of them get covered over the course of your conversation
  • You can show you’ve done your homework, especially if you can find some sort of genuine connection with your interviewer. Maybe you went to the same university. Be interested and interesting – demonstrate that you’re listening to them rather than simply agonising over what you’re going to say next
  • Practice real world examples of you being excellent by showcasing your very considerable skill set. Don’t invent because it sounds more impressive, if you dig down in your own experience you can find something much better. Rather than spinning tales of your lion taming to demonstrate bravery, tell them about something constructive you’ve actually done at work
  • And of course, wear something smart and ironed. An outfit that you can feel comfortable in because you know it looks the part. Or maybe a suit that fits because it’s yours rather than a parent’s

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Truth be told, I am not against fresh thinking and new angles on old ideas. But the classics are held as such for a good reason. After all “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

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