Sally, (not her real name to protect the innocent – me!) the twenty-two year old daughter of a friend of mine recently qualified as a lawyer. (That is not her on the right although she is very similar.)
The next step as a newly qualified graduate is to find a job and I’m pleased to say that our Sally has been very successful.
One of the biggest and best firms of lawyers in Europe has given Sally a job.
The competition was tough; there were lots of eager and similarly qualified young lawyers, all clutching their degrees, looking smart in their new chain store suits, and all desperate to get the job.
What has she got?
So why was Sally successful, what has she got that the similarly qualified other applicants did not? You’ve guessed it; Sally knew how to sell herself.
Before her interviews we spent some time together discussing what she could do that would differentiate her from the other equally qualified applicants.
Like many girls of her age Sally is slightly shy and she knew that having good qualifications wasn’t enough to get her the job. We spent some time coaching Sally in her self-selling skills.
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression
The first thing that Sally had to take on board was that the initial thing people would notice about her was her attitude. The way she walked into the room, the expression on her face and her overall manner would send out a message to the interviewers.
We discussed how in a recent study, human resource managers admitted to making a decision about an individuals suitability for a job within the first thirty seconds of meeting them.
It was therefore vital that Sally’s self-talk was positive and that she totally believed in her ability to get this job.
Dress for success
We spent some time discussing how Sally should dress for the interview. Even in these days of more relaxed dress codes it was important to dress appropriately. Sally even had a consultation with an image consultant. She advised on clothes that were suitable for Sally’s shape and coloring.
The thing about an interview is that it can all seem so serious and intense. I had to remind Sally that a pleasant and open smile would definitely be appropriate at her first meeting.
She did her research and established the names of the people who would interview her. Sally realized the importance of using people’s names particularly at the beginning and the end of the interview. (And I don’t mean first names)
She was also aware of the importance of listening to what was being said, however she needed to show that she was listening.
It was natural for Sally to listen without much expression. However, to let the other person know she was listening; she had to change the expression on her face showing interest where appropriate. Head nodding is good, and the occasional expression of agreement.
If you want to be interesting, be interested
I explained to Sally that many interviewees believe that they are just there to be questioned and that they should answer as and when required.
Interviewers, and let’s face it, most other people, like it when you show interest in them and their business. It was therefore very important that Sally was armed with appropriate questions and ask as many as she could.
Warm and friendly does it
In this busy business world we sometimes forget to show our human side. The interviewer will probably take your qualifications as a given.
They want evidence that you have initiative, that you are a critical thinker and that you have good communication skills.
If you can show that you’re also a warm and friendly person then you’re much more likely to be successful.
Sally is warm and friendly she just had to be coached to demonstrate this in her interview.
She did; it worked, and she goes from success to success.