Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Charm your way to Success

The dreaded interview: Your palms are sweaty, your throat is dry, heart is racing, and you begin stuttering at the first question that makes you think.

Stick a fork in you.

The interview is where the selector gets to see what you're really made of. How do you react to a difficult question? Are you likeable? Do you deserve the prize you are interviewing for (be it a job, scholarship, admission to a University etc.)?

In an interview, you are vying for a spot that tens, possibly hundreds of people are are also going for. Any sign of awkwardness or discomfort will many times stick out in the interviewer's mind and consequently, they will conscioulsy or unconsciously disqualify you.

I am convinced that having good communication and creating positive interactions is the key to personal and professional success. Why? Creating a social and personal connection not only paints you in a positive light for the interviewer, but also makes him/her look past any shortcomings in your qualifications. Ladies and gents, it's true..."It's not the size of the wave, but motion of the ocean that counts."

By nature, I tend to interview well. I'm definitely not shy and love talking to anybody and everybody. In grade school, I used to routinely get in trouble for chatting with people around me. My teacher would then move me (thinking he was separating me from my friends) and I'd start all over again with whomever was around me.

But just because I'm social, what makes me think that I am qualified to help others perform better in interviews? Allow me to share my personal experience.

The first interview I ever did was for a college scholarship in high school. I knew nothing about interview techniques and just went in trying to be as enthusiastic and passionate as possible. Out of thousands of applicants, I was chosen to receive the lucrative prize. After the interview, the interviewer asked me, "How many of these have you done?" My response? "Actually this is my first one." Then jokingly added, "I believe in quality not quantity!" She laughed, and as I left, I knew I had a good shot because, beyond whatever I submitted on paper that qualified me for the scholarship, she genuinely liked me.

My second job ever was the first job interview I ever had. It was for a customer service/racquet technician position at the Tennis Warehouse. Unlike my other interviews, both previous and future, I was superiorly qualified for the position so I only had to have a mariginal interview to get the job. What did help was establishing a savy relationship with the managers as well as other employees. As a result I was promoted to a supervisory role of over 60 people, many of whom had worked at TW longer than I had.

Finally, as my undergraduate career was coming to an end last year, I was honestly VERY concerned that I would graduate jobless! I was submitting my resume everywhere and attending career fairs and getting only a few bites.

The reason? My resume was (the first hurdle in getting a job) was not particularly helpful for my engineering degree. I had a slightly above average GPA, and NO engineering internships or experience.

So how did I land a job?

My biggest weapon was the career fairs. I made sure to learn something about every company I was interested so that when I spoke to the rep, it would appear that I was passionate about working for their SPECIFIC company! Little did they know that I was "passionate" about working for whoever would hire me!

I attended every career fair during my last year, and by the last one, many of the reps knew me and I had a shoe in for an interview. Now it was time to turn the charm up a notch. Once I had gotten the interview, I was supremely confident that I could get the job.

In the end, I had six serious, on-site interviews, four of which made some sort of job offer. Of the two that didn't make an offer, one decided to hire an experienced professional instead of a new grad, one had company restructering and thus the position was longer existing. In essence the jobs that I didn't get was not because of the interview.

I know what you're thinking. "So what in the heck does all this mean Arun?!? It sounds to me like you're just bragging about your interview skills!" Not in the least (Ok well maybe just a little :)

For all of the positions that I interviewed for, I would bet that MOST of the people interviewed were MORE qualified for the position on paper. I won the prize because I established a connection with the interviewer that made him/her want to hire me for me and my personality over hardcore knowledge.

The tips that I am going to share work in a myriad of social interactions, from job interviews to sellers and buyers to even women! These are general tips that are effective in nearly ALL SOCIAL SITUATIONS!!! So here we go.

1. Confidence. By FAR the most important quality! You will get no where without being and projecting confidence. Speaking clearly, slowly, and as if you believe what you are saying is key. Look the person in the eye when you are talking. If you are asked something you don't know, think briefly, and answer as best you can. If you don't know, then be confident enough to admit it!

2. Enthusiasm. People LOVE enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is infectious in any social interaction and after leaving, peole will think "For some reason, and I can't pin point it, I really like that guy." Showing enthusiasm really makes you likeable.

3. Passion. Again, showing a passion for something demonstrates that you have motivation and ambition. Showing a passion for something lets the other person know that you have the potential to love whatever they are bringing to the table.

4. Humour. Being funny is ALWAYS good! Girls, guys, everyone loves someone who is humourous. When I'm chatting with someone (an interviewer, a girl etc) and can get them to laugh, I know we've established a connection. This is the quickest way to hook someone. What if you're not funny? Well even a quirky attempt at a bad joke (as long as its in good taste) is endearing. Just don't overdo it if they're not laughing!

5. Mirroring. This is the act of mirroring the energy of who you are talking. When I interviewed with my current manager, I came in with all this energy only to be dampered by his extremely subdued demeanor. So what did do? I mirrored his energy but I kept myself always one notch above him. I calmed down to the point where he was comfortable, but made sure he knew that I had energy. In doing so, the environment was comfortable and we able to establish a rapport.

6. Body Language. Smile! Smiling is a great way to project positive vibes in a room. Again, smiling makes you very likeable. Also, mirroring body language helps in making the other person comfortable. Don't be too shifty as that shows discomfort and nervousness. All movements should be purposeful! No thumb twiddling or tapping!

Also, in a nonprofessional setting, kinaesthetics (the science of touching) establishes a connection. A light (nonsexual!) touch on the shoulder or back when interacting immediately establishes a connection.

So that's the basics! Enhancing your abilites in a social environment can work wonders! Remember the saying, "It's not what you know, but WHO you know!" Well successful communication with the right people will get you far.

And as I said before, "It's not the size of the wave, but the motion of ocean" is so true in so many avenues....though to be honest with you, my "wave" is quite large :)

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