Interview Opening and Closing Moments

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interview opening and closing moments by Candidate Tips

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People remember first and last moments most clearly. That’s why films have big starts and explosive finishes. But the film maker knows they can get away with a less action-packed middle to save some budget. Interviews are just the same. Getting the interview opening and closing moments right are essential.

The First Moments

Remember, the first ten seconds are everything and will balance the result in your favour or provide you with a lot of credibility to claw back. Think about what happens:

If things have gone well or badly, the temptation is to get out of the door as quickly as possible. And, if you do this, well here comes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  1. You knock at the door.
  2. Perhaps, meet your interviewer for the first time.
  3. Introduce yourself.
  4. Shake hands.
  5. Sit down before being asked if you would like a drink.

There is quite a lot which goes on. Think about the following:

  1. Give a firm knock. Too timid a know may get you ignored (was it this door being knocked on?).
  2. When you meet your interviewer, look them in the eye and smile.
  3. Introduce yourself and offer your hand to shake. Don’t wait for them!
  4. Shake hands sensibly – that does not mean breaking their knuckles or a limp soggy handshake (people will read things into those). Firm and one shake. Introduce yourself at the same time.
  5. Wait to be asked to ‘take a seat’ and say ‘thank you’ – this breaks the ice as much as anything. Then get relaxed and comfortable. Remember your rapport skills at this point.
  6. Drinks – people worry about this. They will usually already be there. If the interviewer asks you and you want to play safe, then use the term, ‘if you are having one, then I will join you’. That then provides a choice for the interviewer. Remember, drinks have their uses – they provide valuable thinking time when you are being asked a question. Drinking water also slows the heart rate and moistens the throat.
  7. Warm-up questions – good interviewers understand the interview situation from your perspective. They understand you may be nervous and want to get the best out of you. They understand that, apart from a receptionist, you may not have talked with anyone for some time on the way to interview. They will want to loosen you up and get you talking. To do this they may ask you about your journey, how much time you have, or, if particularly skilled, they may find something on your CV to talk about – typically an interest, hobby or a place you have worked which they know something about. Whatever you do, make sure the answers are positive. ‘How was your journey?’, tell them it was good – a bad journey may indicate to them that if you go the role, you may have a difficult journey every day.

 

The Final Interview Moments

The end itself begins with the interviewer asking you, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ The worst possible response is that you have no questions. Were you not listening? Are you really interested in the role?
If things have gone well or badly, the temptation is to get out of the door as quickly as possible. And, if you do this, well here comes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The end itself begins with the interviewer asking you, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ The worst possible response is that you have no questions. Were you not listening? Are you really interested in the role? Are you not able to link the information from the interview to define new questions? The interviewer may draw these and many other conclusions if you do not form some well-structured questions. Remember your values and the questions you can ask in order to see if the role will fulfil your personal needs.

Two forms of questions you should avoid are those which are negative and those that could make you appear as having reservations. For example:

  1. What would be the risk of redundancy in this role?
  2. Is the business likely to be taken over in the foreseeable future?
  3. Would I have to be at this work location every day?
  4. Is it a problem if I need to take half-days every once in a while?

Other than those associated with your values to assess if you will be happy in the role (see here and follow this), some other questions you may wish to ask include:

  1. What happened to the last incumbent in this role?
  2. How would you describe the management style in this department/business area?
  3. How do you measure team and individual performance in this department?
  4. Can you explain the structure of this department/business area?
  5. Are there any significant changes in the structure or functioning of this department on the horizon?

A Last Note on Closing Moments

Finally, the interview is never over until you leave the building. Avoid saying silly things because you are tired and relieved that it’s now over. Remember that generally people remember the first and last things in any interaction more than anything else during the interaction.  Simply stand up, gather your things (glad now you didn’t bring too much into the interview room), shake hands and simultaneously say, ‘It was good to meet you’, and leave.

As one final tip, interviewers will often ask receptionists what they thought of you. Remember to be nice to everyone that you meet.

If you are following a pathway, move onto some more advanced language skills.

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