Prepared for that upcoming executive level job interview? Suit pressed, shoes shined, answers rehearsed? While I am a massive advocate of properly rehearsing the answers to potential interview questions (there really is no excuse these days not to have prepared in this way), I would urge you to take into account another point, one which can make a major difference. It’s a classic example of small things can make big differences…
A good friend of mine recently attended a gruelling senior level executive interview. You know, one of those processes that take an entire day (but perhaps feels longer!). This was for a post with a good 6 figure package and excellent benefits. The interview process involved presentations, panel interviews, tour of the company premises (by the way, however well you may know the building where your interview is to be conducted, never refuse the invitation to have a guided tour. The information you will pick up during this more informal stage of the interview process can be invaluable during the interview itself, and is a prime opportunity to find out what issues staff are facing, things that need addressing etc.), and to top it all off my friend was then asked to give a speech to the assembled staff – scary stuff (but all part of the process)!
I also loved the way he had spent some time touring the local setting for this interview, and took some photo’s which he used in the backdrop to his PowerPoint presentation later that day; something which the panel liked, and just shows that little extra touch. We are all human, and those little touches are often appreciated, even though we may not realise it at the time.
My friend was appointed into the post a few days later, and is now thriving in a role which is enjoyable as well as challenging.
We met up a few days later for a coffee, and he asked me, “What do you think was a major factor in my being appointed?” After I had volunteered two reasons (ok, so I know him well, which helped) which were both correct, it led to me wanting to share this with all of you.
- Reason one was the PowerPoint pictures I mentioned above.
- The biggest reason? When he arrived at the building for the interview he spent a good ten minutes chatting with the reception staff asking questions such as, “How long have you been working here?” “What’s it like here?” What he didn’t know at the time that the company included all staff that candidates were exposed to as part of a 360 degree feedback process. He had, however, noticed other candidates arriving and after signing in, swanning past reception with a cursory nod. Little did they know the error they had already made!
So talk to everyone when you go for an interview. Keep the chat business-based, but be personable and in a mode of constant enquiry. It can make the difference.
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