5 things a candidate does before an interview
From avoiding onions to researching the bazookas out of the company, media personality Hayley Pearson shares, from her point of view, what a candidate does in the lead-up to a job interview.
As a candidate, when applying for a job that I desperately, desperately want, all I hope for is to get an interview. As does everyone!
Then when I haven’t heard from the recruiter (within a day of hitting the ‘apply for this job’ button), I check my junk folder, refresh my email inbox and obsessively check my phone, making sure that a beautiful message asking me to come in for an interview hasn’t somehow bypassed my watchful eyes.
All the while repeating phrases like: “Maybe their emails are down? Maybe they’re hiring internally? Maybe the hiring manager is on holiday in Bora Bora. Maybe the head office has caught on fire. Oh please, just damn well call me!”
Then, as soon as I get the interview call up, I freeze. What questions will they ask? Will they judge me if I’m too casual, or not casual enough? Should I be myself?
I’ve been for a few interviews in my time and these are the kinds of things I do, as a candidate, right before each and every one:
I want to appear smart and I want the hirer to know that I've done my research on the company. Not to mention, I genuinely want to know if this is a good place to work. What are the downsides of working here that I should be aware of? What’s the management team like? Do I share the same ethos? What’s the average tenure of employees – do they last 10 years or 10 days? What’s the social comradery like? And the list of things I want to know goes on.
So I stalk, I mean ‘research’, the company, and often the interviewers themselves, by every means possible; whether that be through SEEK company reviews, social media, the man on the street or reading the company website back to front and upside down.
2. Have serious doubts
When sending off my CV, I'm the most confident, sometimes slightly arrogant, candidate. I'm going for the job because I know I’d be great at it, and I’ve done everything in my application to impress the socks off the hiring team.
Then, if I get an interview, a nasty little demon called ‘doubt’ takes over my body. This can happen from the moment I'm told I’ve made it to the interview round, or it can set in just as I'm about to walk into the interviewing room. It can rear its ugly head in the form of rash on the neck or, even worse, rash on the face. I start to doubt my abilities and question if I'm good enough for the role. But, I know that if I can just get through this stage, I’ll kill it at the job. At this point, I’m praying that the hiring and HR managers have mercy on my nerves and let me relax into the interview.
During my extensive research phase, I’ve jotted down a list of questions that I think are likely to come up. Then I’ll rehearse and rehearse my answers to these questions as though I’m Angelina Jolie auditioning for a part in Mr & Mrs Smith.
I’ll also rehearse my answer to the BIG ONE: the question tango on salary. I wish I was assertive enough to just ask about money. I mean that’s 85% of the reason why I'm going for this job. Obviously, I won’t verbalise that, but it’s true because I have to pay my mortgage. Oh and please don’t ask me, “What do you think the job is worth”? Just give me a figure!
4. Have anxiety attacks
As the interview gets closer, I begin to breathe like I've just walked up 17 flights of stairs. That shortness of breath and sick feeling in my stomach is anxiety. I'm anxious because I REALLY want this job and I'm worried you won’t like me. I'm also an over-sharer, so I'm anxious that I'll over-share and offend you.
While I nailed the rehearsal in my lounge room, when it comes to the real deal, I can’t even remember my name. I’m anxious that all my clever answers and work examples will evaporate out my head. I’m anxious that the interview won’t get on-track and my friend anxiety will cling to me like cling-wrap.
5. Groom obsessively
My biggest fear (apart from rocking up and finding out my ex-boyfriend is the recruiter) is having poor personal hygiene. I spend a good two hours showering, seven hours picking out what to wear and a week avoiding onions. And yes, I’ll probably buy several Cue pantsuits for the occasion and have to return them all because I can’t make up my mind.
Even though I’ll go through each and every one of these experiences before an interview, I know that none of that matters when I’m made to feel comfortable by the recruiter. Then, I can be my true self and that’s when the magic happens – and a great interview!