As I looked across the interview table, I could see the candidate’s pupils start to dilate. Upon closer look I could see the hint of a smile play at the corners of their lips. Suddenly the candidate leaned forward and exclaimed, “That was the best interview question I ever heard!”
I sat in stunned silence. In all my years as a recruiter this has never happened. I began to think this was a prank.
And then the next thing the candidate did shocked the gray hair right off of me. He brought his phone out and said, “I’ve got to tweet this.” But then he stopped. He looked intensely back at me and said, “Would you pose for a selfie with me? And then I can caption it with your question.”
Okay, okay that never actually happened. Lord knows I don’t want to become the Brian Williams of recruiting. However did you ever wonder what it would be like to take an interview selfie?
While we can have a social debate about snap happy people with their camera phones memorializing the most mundane of activities, there is value in recording an event. It can allow you to see details that you weren’t aware of or had taken for granted.
And if you have been in the workforce for any length of time, it can become easy to lose sight of the details of interviewing.
The first and most obvious is your appearance. Yes, I have heard all those old chestnuts. Dress not for the job you’re interviewing for, but the one after that. Formal is always best. And so on. Candidly my opinion over time has changed. When I first started out as a recruiter, I would have said always wear a suit. Now my thoughts have changed.
Your choice of attire should reflect the environment you’re interviewing in. When in doubt ask the recruiter how candidates typically dress. I have found that smaller companies I have been at are okay with candidates who come dressed more casually. Whereas larger companies tend to stick with the tried and true of wear your Sunday best.
Now that said, let me clarify casual. Don’t come dressed in ripped up blue jeans, or yoga pants, wearing a shirt emblazoned with your favorite pithy quote from Grumpy Cat. Obviously let common sense rule the day here. Although if you did wear something like that to an interview, don’t be surprised if the recruiter asks you to pose for a selfie with them!
Alright we’ve got the clothing part ironed out (I couldn’t resist; hey I get paid by the word!), now let’s talk about the part that almost all recruiters dread. That’s right, the part where we walk across the lobby, call your name, and then as social convention dictates … the handshake.
Interestingly enough the tradition of the handshake arose from the Age of Chivalry so two knights meeting each other for the first time can demonstrate that neither had a weapon. Based on some of the handshakes I’ve had to endure, I am not so sure that a weapon would be worse.
It is surprising to me how often a handshake is the candidate displaying that they’re engaged in one of the twelve labors of Hercules and one of which is to crush my hand. Or that the handshake is so limp and light it as if I had been to Disneyland and the candidate was afraid of contracting measles.
So find a friend you trust and practice the handshake. Yes, that may seem silly and even extreme. But trust me, your recruiter will thank you and it is one social skill that everyone should master.
The next interview self-assessment should be thinking about your body language in the interview. Look I get it. Being an interview ranks right up there with being called for jury duty. You just want to get it over. However I can’t tell you the number of times that my hiring managers have commented about candidate’s body language.
I recall one telling me that they wanted to put a mirror in front the candidate to see if it fogged up. Another case I had a manager share with me that they felt like a principal and that the candidate was a bad student they were counseling.
It is understandable that your flight or fight reflex appears when inserted in to a stressful situation. A way to combat that is to mirror the person that is interviewing you. Careful you don’t want to overdo it. But it can be helpful to gently mimic the motions of the interviewer.
So if they lean forward, you lean forward slightly. Wait a beat or two, before you do. But displaying some body movement during your time with the interviewer will make you seem more animated. And if you’re animated that conveys interest.
Let’s recap shall we. At this point on the interview selfie check list, you’ve insured that there are no wardrobe malfunctions, you didn’t crush the recruiters hand when you met them, you are mirroring their movements to convey interest, so what else is there?
In the spirit of saving the best for last, it is to listen. Say what? Yep. Listen. Again that may seem glaring obvious (as do the other items), but let’s face it not many of us interview with frequency. So it is easy to forget the basics. And if you define the interview as an exchange of information, then listening is essential to truly determine whether this is the right role for you.
And while you should share, and the interviewers you meet will want you to talk about yourself and what’ve you’ve done, remember to listen. What questions are they asking? And why are they asking them? Are there clues in there that can give you an insight in to what type of person they’re looking to hire? By paying attention to what’s asked, it allows you to better understand what their needs are and how you might be able to fulfill them.
More importantly it arms you with the data of whether or not you truly want to work with them. Ultimately a real “interview selfie” is to understand what you want, enjoy, and expect from a potential employer. You are your own brand, and you need to be mindful of how every role you consider will impact your future marketability.