Your palms are sweaty, knees weak arms are heavy there’s vomit on your sweater already, mom spaghetti. This is most of us just before a job interview, right? Yes, Eminem and the Internet’s modification of his lyrics gave us an accurate description of reality. It’s quite tough to go through an interview… or isn’t it? See here’s the thing, just like almost everything else in life, science is there to walk you through. Once you understand this, it’s a piece of cake. This is not going to be your average 600-word article because it tackles an important topic in every small detail so bear with it.
What does science have to do with any of this?
EVERYTHING! Science is involved in how you walk into the interview, how you shake your interviewer’s hand, how you sit down, how you talk, how you behave and how you leave that room. So yes, it has, literally, everything to do with it. But before we get to how it’s involved, allow me to introduce a concept called emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ), and perform a clear comparison between it and your normal intelligence or intelligence quotient (IQ).
1. Manage your EQ
Emotional intelligence by itself is a vast topic and there’s enough material about it to write a full-fledge book, so I will keep this short and sweet in order not to deviate from the main topic. However, keep in mind that there is much more to EQ than what I am about to say and I strongly encourage you to make your own research on the matter.
Alright so, to those who don’t know what IQ is, it is basically your level of plain intelligence. It could be in terms of problem solving, finding patterns, learning fast, being logical, filtering irrelevant information, etc. Though these things are important when applying for a job, they are not the most important qualities an employer looks for: in fact, according to Fast Company, Google and other major companies rely more on emotional intelligence and the reason why is very simple.
Not many people have a high IQ and yet almost everyone has the ability to acquire the technical skills needed, should the will and passion exist. The difference between hiring a high IQ individual, Mr. Smith for example, and a low IQ individual, Mr. Orange, is the fact that Mr. Orange will need 3 months to learn what Mr. Smith can in 1 month. But eventually, once both individuals have similar experience in the field, there will practically be no difference in terms of efficiency, which is why IQ is not as important as people think it is.
Now that we got IQ out of our hands, let’s talk a little bit about EQ: According to Psychology Today, the term Emotional Intelligence is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others”. Sounds simple, right? Au contraire, mes amis. Though the term is easy to understand, being able to tackle your EQ in order to train and manipulate it is far harder than going to the gym and getting that six-pack you’ve always wanted.
A research done by several people in this field has divided EQ into 5 main categories:
-Self-awareness: Being able to identify and pin-point your every emotion in order for you to manage them, which, in turn, leads to self-confidence, that is knowing your own capabilities and not underestimating yourself. One of the main traits an employer looks for.
-Self-regulation: Giving yourself control of long- and short-term emotions such as the anxiety you might get before an interview, or the phase of depression you might get after a tough breakup. This category will enable you to unlock some new abilities: self-control, trusting yourself, being conscious of your own feelings and adapting for change.
-Motivation: Getting a hold of your own emotions will give you a new drive to pursue further achievements, to commit to your goals, to make new initiatives when needed (being proactive rather than reactive) and finally, to become an optimist.
-Empathy: EQ is related to your ability to identify and cope with your surrounding. If you are an empathic person, you might see that by empowering others or helping a friend in need, developing different people’s capabilities, enhancing political awareness and understanding others.
-Social Skills: This is probably the biggest reward an emotionally intelligent person can get. Acquiring social skills would give you the ability to influence others, communicate, become a true leader, build bonds, get along with people from different religious, racial, political and other sorts of backgrounds.
This is a very brief introduction to emotional intelligence and I hope you now have a clear idea about why employers care about your EQ more than your IQ.
Now that this part is over, the following points will be listed chronologically as to what goes first.
2. Polish your CV and KNOW IT BY HEART
Let me put it this way: your CV is basically the cover of the book that is “you”. If your CV does not look clean, professional and straight to the point, it gives a bad first-impression. There are numerous ways for you to know how to, literally, polish your CV. Think of yourself as a product and your CV is the billboard you see driving down the highway. It either attracts your potential customer or they just don’t like it. If you’re a fresh graduate, most universities have job emplacement officers and professionals who will help you do that. If you cannot get a hold of such an individual, you can simply Google it and do it yourself; Business News Daily has published an article I find quite nice on how to fix your CV.
A key to showing self-confidence is knowing yourself quite well. This, in turn, includes knowing your CV so that if your employer asks you about previous positions, in terms of details about that position, your job description, etc, you need to be able to provide a quick answer while avoiding those awkward three seconds that you spend thinking about it.
Three seconds is all it takes for an employer to figure you’re not worthy of that job.
3. Research the job you’re applying for and the company, also preferably your interviewer
It is utterly irresponsible and unprofessional of you to apply for a job and not know a thing about it. It’s not okay for you be slightly knowledgeable about it either. You will most certainly be asked “How can you benefit the company?”. Assuming you’re applying for a salesman position at Mitsubishi, what are you going to say? I can sell cars? Not at all. Everyone can say that: you need to be different, leave an impact. You need to know how the company started and what made it great. Exploit that information and relate it to yourself. It’s also preferable to know your interviewer so that you can relate yourself to what they have done. But be careful, there is a very thin line between giving your interviewer credit and kissing up. DO NOT KISS UP.
4. Dress up well
And no that does not mean jump into your fancy suit, slip your Rolex down your wrist and shower with Clive Christian’s No. 1 Imperial Majesty perfume. You’re going to a job interview, not the Grammys. However you need to look good, neat and professional.
For all of us bearded men, try to trim it. Don’t clean shave, it’s fine, but you can’t go there looking like a wet baboon seeing a banana. Clean your neck and give it a nice line. If it is a major company, you’re looking at semi-formal, blazer with a button-up shirt and some nice pants. As for the ladies, cover yourself up professionally. Don’t wear too much make up, file your nails and you might even need to polish them. You don’t want your interviewer to think of you any differently than professionally.
5. “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable”
You must get there ahead of time for two main reasons: First off, you will get there with a whole less stress than you would if you fight off traffic, race other cars and curse all the way there to make sure you’re on time. If you leave your house early, you’re going to get there stress-free and your employer will see a sign of dedication and devotion.
6. Chew some gum
While waiting for your interviewer, chew a piece of gum or some breath mint especially if you’re a smoker like me. Make sure to lose the gum right before you get to the interview.
7. Body language is worth a million words
Most interviewers are trained to detect body language. This is not a conversation you’re having with an average individual you met at the bar. Your body language will tell a lot about your EQ and how well you manage people. Walk into the interview room with a nice smile on your face, shake your interviewer’s hand firmly enough to show confidence and loosely enough not to cut-off blood flow. Look them in the eyes to show you are not afraid of them and wait for them to ask you to have a seat. Once seated, maintain a firm back, hands on the desk or table and do not budge.
Always moving around, changing positions and putting your arms below the desk where your comfort zone is will give off a clear sign of lacking confidence. They will notice.
8. Speak with confidence
Don’t stutter. Don’t blink too often. Look them in the eye while speaking. That’s it.
9. Ask questions
Towards the end of the interview, your interviewer will – most likely – ask you if you have any questions. Be creative, this is your time to shine. Don’t ask about salary, ask about your position, whether or not you will be expected to go out of your job description because if yes, you’re more than willing to do it. Ask if there is a chance of moving up the company pyramid because you would like to devote your time and energy for this company and you do not want to jump around from one company to another. Ask constructive questions that would show your interviewer that you are well informed, well presented and very much competent for this job.
10. Drop the mic
Obama isn’t any better than you and the way he dropped the mic gave his speech millions of views just because it was cool.
Now you’re not about to drop any mics here but you do want to leave a good last impression. Right before leaving, you shake your interviewer’s hand once again, tell them that you had a good talk with them and leave the way you came. Fully confident.
If these techniques get you a job, make sure to buy me a beer when you get your first salary. And if you feel like I’m missing something, you have further questions or you simply want to open a discussion, the comment section is right below!