Legal Dave’s Interview Tips…

7 December 2018

Legal Dave’s Interview Tips…

When I meet candidates and clients for the first time there are two things I tend to let them know about me:

  1. ‘I worked in the bank for almost 13 years and was a senior manager.’
  2. ‘I was a hiring manager for almost a decade in the bank!’

I must admit I do bring these facts up a lot to both clients and candidates to which Ryan Calvert and Catherine Rushe now find it rather amusing, but the reasoning for me establishing these facts is simple.

Firstly, I want my clients to know that I understand what it’s like to be in their shoes when trying to hire good candidates and in the future, I plan to write about this experience. 

Secondly, I want candidates to know that I have both hired and been hired at various levels with a large institution and thus can speak from both sides of the interview desk when giving tips for interview…  I maybe should add a third line to my repertoire which is ‘I used to coach staff on how to interview for almost a decade!’… did I mention those staff members had a very good strike rate for getting the jobs they interviewed for…?

So, what are my tips, in no particular order here we go:

  1. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!

Seems obvious but a lot of people don’t practice ahead of an interview.  Here is the thing, its all very well writing your CV and knowing it but its another thing being natural talking about yourself.  I suggest getting some generic interview questions and spend some time simply walking around your bedroom, bathroom or wherever you feel confident rattling of answers… Look these questions may not come up but the confidence built from practising talking about yourself relays over to the other questions.  It also will help your body language, if you are feeling really brave you could have someone video the practice…  watch back and check what you're doing with your hands etc…  Look its not an exact science but there is no doubt that practice makes perfect and it certainly will help you be more relaxed on the day.

  1. Drink the Water!

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, There's vomit on his sweater already, mum's spaghetti… You know what will cool you down and also help your beating heart relax… a sip of water…  take full advantage of the water.  Firstly, interviews make you very warm which can lead to an anxious feeling… drink the nice cool glass of water and cool down.  Secondly, adrenalin is flowing so your energy will be all over the place, help relax your heartbeat and breathing by you guessed it… a sip of cool water.  Sounds simple and the reason it sounds simple is because it is simple.  So, do the simple things and make the harder things in the interview much easier…

  1. LISTEN! STOP!

So, I asked this guy, tell me about a time when you managed a team and had to deliver a difficult message to the team, how did you deliver it and how did you handle the reaction?  The guy told me about a time when he received excellent customer feedback for sorting out a mortgage issue.  It was actually an exceptional answer and would have been great in a few questions time, but the problem was he didn’t answer the question I asked.  Clearly, this was an answer he had worked on and wanted it to be heard, the question I had asked he clearly hadn’t anything spring to mind so autopilot kicked in and he rattled off this answer instead… Guys… if the interviewer asks you a question and nothing springs to mind immediately there is no harm in asking to move on to the next question and then coming back to that one… When I advise this, people argue ‘but it will make me seem like I haven’t a clue’, actually what it shows is you have a calmness and strength to your character… people also argue what good will this do when it comes back to the question I might still not have anything.  This is why the human brain is amazing, thing is that question is still resonating in the back of your mind.  In my experience anyone who has asked to go back to a question not only have they had an answer but a lot of the time it's their best answer of the interview.  So, Listen and stop yourself from answering a good answer to the wrong question.

  1. The Dead fish!

AKA the Handshake – a handshake can say a lot about a person…  As a recruiter, I shake at least 1 person’s hand per day, so I get to experience them all… The Handshake links back to my first tip – Practice!  You should practice your handshake on someone you know who will tell you if its good or not, the following handshakes you do not want to inflict on an interviewer:

  • The Dead Fish – This is pretty much just laying your hand on the other person's hand… it can imply uncertainty and some managers will tell you it can be detrimental to a career… so practice on a friend and get that handshake grip right
  • Fingers – Just make sure that the joint between your thumb and forefinger is touching the other persons before gripping… Nothing worse than someone thinking they might break someone’s fingers in a handshake
  • Sweaty hand – This is an easy fix, keep a clean handkerchief or tissue handy and discreetly wipe your hand if you know its sweaty.
  • Bone Breaker – Simply put, don’t squeeze to hard!
  • Sawing Wood – Don’t pull the person’s shoulder out of the socket with too aggressive of a shake… again simple stuff
  • Finally, keep it brief – Don’t hold on to the handshake for too long as it can lead to awkwardness.
  1. Eye Contact and Body Language

Try your best to keep eye contact with the interviewers, please also remember if there is a note taker that you don’t take offence in them not making it back… remember they are taking notes!  Good eye contact can be construed as good manners and can make a candidate more appealing and likeable.  It also doesn’t hurt to try and react with your eyes, the interviewer says something interesting a good reaction with the eyes can show them that you are engaged and interested in the role. 

Ok now for body language – below is my recommendations and things you should avoid.

I recommend you:

  • Use Your Hands – Open Palms is a sign of honesty so keep them on your lap, try and not move them around erratically as this can signal nervousness.
  • Smile – Smile and nod were appropriate and feel free to have a laugh if suitable, nothing shows your personality better than a laugh and smile.
  • Relax Shoulders – Relaxed shoulders make you seem like a relaxed personality whilst tense shoulders make you seem on edge.

I suggest you avoid:

  • Touching your face – Touching of the face can seem dishonest, most body language books state that touching of the face can signal lying.
  • Slouch or Figure 8 – Ok slouching just makes you look disinterested whilst doing a figure 8 (crossing of legs and hands behind head) makes you seem like a cocky so and so.
  • Constant movement – can make you seem anxious or in extreme cases might come across as you being bored or impatient.
  1. Not the only Nerves in the room…

My final tip – I guarantee that you won’t be the only nervous person in the room, even the most seasoned of interviewer gets nerves before interviewing… remember they are representing their company and don’t want to look foolish.  Also, a lot of the time the note taker is someone in training to be an interviewer… guaranteed they are Nervous!  Remember ultimately an interview is people in a room, everyone gets nerves, its all about just doing the simple things to manage those nerves!

This is very much a brief snapshot of tips for an interview if anyone would like to discuss feel free to get in contact with me.  In my next Blog, I will cover off the heartache of a Hiring manager when it comes to recruitment process…

P.S.  One final tip… for goodness sake when you arrive at the building for the interview be nice to everyone you meet, you never know who is providing feedback!


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