Interviewing and being interviewed is a practiced skill. Yet most people seldom get the opportunity to exercise this perishable skill frequently enough to remain proficient.

If you’re expecting to find yourself on either side of that interview desk any time soon, here are a few pointers to consider before suiting up…

First impressions count – These are the most basic of steps – but you’d be surprised how much feedback we receive on failure to adhere to these points.  As an interviewee; ensure you dress formally and conservatively – make sure you fit in where you’re going. Offer a firm handshake – capture their attention. Turn up ten minutes early and not before – both for your nerves and their readiness to receive you.

As an interviewer; use a casual ice breaker upfront – putting your candidate at ease allows you to see them better. Don’t forget to orientate them in your office – this allows them to feel comfortable and grounded in the space. And use your interviewer/interviewees name at least three times. This psychologically triggers engagement. Name them first within the first few exchanges.

The age of Skype – At Tyler Wren, we source candidates from a wide international network and frequently arrange meetings via Skype. Even when considering candidates locally, circumstances can make Skype a practical tool worth deploying.

We’ve red flagged a few common errors when using this model for both interviewers and interviewees. 

Establish a link through Skype well before your scheduled appointment. Ensure you are set up in a brightly lit room – ideally with a frontal light. Inform any colleagues nearby that you will require privacy for a while. Avoid shirts with tight horizontal lines as this can lead to strobing in the video feed – which can be highly distracting. By that same logic, ensure the background behind you is free of distracting objects. Most importantly – use your computer, not your phone.

Listen and respond – If you’re leading the conversation, set the agenda upfront and set the tone for the conversation in a manner befitting of your office culture. If you are the interviewee, take heed of this. Adjust your own rhythm and tone to sync with the person interviewing you. Mirrored gestures and incorporated language can help create this bond. And mirrored language is a sure-fire way to indicate that you have listened accurately. If you lack clarity on any point, ask specific questions. Don’t be afraid to bare yourself and your ideas – they are what makes you the candidate – but filter their image through the outline you’re given.

Host your own interview – This is your time. If you are leading the interview, seek your desired information. If you are being interviewed, seek your desired information. As a point of fact, the two roles are not as dissimilar as you may initially think. Both parties must assess each other and the opportunities before them. Do not allow yourself to become diminished in your desire for a job. Radiate from inspiration rather than desperation. Manage your stake in the proceedings with appropriate grace and sensitivity – but command that stake nonetheless. There’s a reason you’ve been chosen to interview. The reason is the interviewer believes in your ability to perform the job from what they’ve already seen. The rest is fit.

Do your homework – It’s so easy these days that it’s inexcusable not to. What cases have the firm/person been working of late? What is their background and expertise? What is current and likely on their mind? What makes this person/firm stand apart? If you can accurately assess what matters to them before you walk in the door, you’re ten steps ahead of the game.

Even as the interviewer, take the time to read over candidates details thoroughly. Anyone worth considering has multiple roles they are considering. People make choices on impressions, feelings and fit as much as they do the record of excellence within your firm. Don’t underestimate that.

Question – If you’re an interviewee, prepare 3-5 considered questions before going to interview. Make these genuine and consider the phrasing – what do you need to know? That consideration will be noted. Stuck for ideas? One of my favourite questions to close on is this – “If you think down the line, a year from now, what would the person who takes this role have to have done to be an excellent hire in your mind?” And then watch them cast you in their feedback.

Know your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate/firm – This is critical. Knowledge of this allows you to highlight that which will serve you in the eyes of the other and allows you to prepare a considered answer to any challenge you may face. This is where using a recruiting service, like that offered at Tyler Wren, can be of great assistance. We can prepare both candidate and client with the knowledge of what each party is after and what may give them pause. Don’t get caught out. Any challenge is a potential opportunity to rise above expectations.

Do what relaxes you before the interview and what you enjoy after – Headspace and relaxation is essential to a well performed interview. Each interview is a concentrated burst of nervous energy – no matter who you are. If you aren’t feeling nervous prior, ask yourself how seriously you desire this job.

You must give yourself the opportunity to gather your thoughts and put yourself in your best state of readiness. It may be that you exercise the morning of, meditate, go for a walk or anything – whatever settles and relaxes you. And after the interview – no matter how it goes – celebrate the achievement of having negotiated that challenge. Buy a coffee/beer/ice cream – whatever reward you choose. And take a moment to reflect on what you did best and what you might change next time.

Who knows, you may be called back in the next day.