Non academic qualification for a job interview

BY: Mahmud Afimfiwey

I have already discussed the interview outfit and dedicated the previous week's edition to activities immediately proceeding the real job interview.

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This week, we come face to face with the job-giver and explore some little, very little things that potentially may occasion a smile from across the interview table. And i guess we all know what a magical smile is and what it is capable of accomplishing for us and our quest to come on board.

A good diploma or degree may qualify you for a job;  a great CV accompanied by a striking cover letter may get you shortlisted for a job interview. An appropriate attire and good personal grooming certainly will get you into the interview room. And while answering the questions right and proving that you can remain on top of the job should get you full admission into the corporate team, these alone often get you missing the pass mark narrowly and consequently making you angry with yourself.


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The smile miracle

By the time you finish turning the door handle, set in motion the mass of muscles lining your face such that by the time the door slides open fully, your face is beaming with life. This is an art every jobseeker needs to practice, and practice very seriously. A smile, when genuine, broad and lasting, has an infectious quality. 

The office setting as adopted by the interviewer may have its own surprises, twists, turns and therefore, likely to predispose the candidate to some minimum shocks. In fact some interview venues, office space and even interview rooms are deliberately chosen and furnished in order to elicit a certain reaction, reactions which will be taken account of by the reviewers of the interview outcome.

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 A job interview may take place in a chauffeur driven car with the person sitting next to you in the rear of the SUV being your interviewer. Sometimes the person behind the wheels may be that interviewer. A restaurant may serve as the venue and in a lot of the cases, the lavish office of the CEO of the startup may be that place where you have to make a case for your inclusion into the team.

My point is that wherever your job-givers decide to use as venue, master the skills of unleashing appropriate doses of smiles. Stay above the sometimes deliberate distractions engineered to get you off guard and get to see you when you are un-primed. Because, as it often turns out, most of us will fail any test when caught unaware because in the un-primed state, we usually tend to engage our faculties of reason less actively. By the time we are aware that an evaluation is in session, we may have revealed the unintelligent side of ourselves.

The magic of a warm handshake

The next little thing is the handshaking session. By the time the first smile is readying to exit your face, spark it up again during the brief handshaking moment. Make the moment memorable by issuing a friendly, firm and warm handshake. If the officers have their name tags on their breasts, it will be winning to mention their names as you shake them one after the other.

In typical Akan tradition and pretty much so across the nation, we shake from our right towards the left. Observe this if you can but desist from making that a necessary precondition. The handshake usually is first directed at the person who welcomes the candidate and offers her seat.

If you reason that the interviewers do not look like they will welcome the handshake, a normal greeting customary of our nation will do. But when you have to stretch your hand to shake, remind yourself of the formal setting of the interview. In typical settings that may pass for unofficial meeting, young people, males especially, would want to reserve a little clapping note as the fingers distance from each other. Do not bring this into the interview room even if a fellow Casfordian, Vandal or a Katangee is the one leading the screening.

Unleash the humour in you

When you are a gifted humourist and a talented joke-teller with the talent to practically turn the most sullen character into an excited person, you may want to throw one when the time is right and the occasion ripe for such stuff.  While a smile is a sure bargain, a friendly, firm and warm handshake another gambling with little or no backlash, a prank, if it falls on the wrong note, may represent the worse moment for the jobseeker.  So take note and be sure of what you are up to before daring yourself for a gamble this risky.

Deploy your sixth sense

Always engage your sixth sense: emotional intlligence. When in active mode, emotional intelligence rescues us when confronted with a challenge undreamt of and for which the assembly of all the ordinary senses is incapable of decoding. The point is that no matter how shrewd a job interview coach is, he or she cannot possibly anticipate every conceivable challenge. And in the absence of the presence of the sixth sense, even the mere configuration of the interview office and it's lighting may occasion a reaction that may be responsible for a below average performance.

The selfconfidence factor

The last quality you need to take to the interview room is selfconfidence. You do not learn the difficult art of selfconfidence in the interview room: you come along with it. This should imply that you already have mastered this soft skill and only waiting to unleash it where appropriate.

While the first few minutes of nearly every job interview have been found to cause some minor (and sometimes even serious) panic attacks in the interviewee, winning candidates are the ones who immediately neutralise this common initial setback by letting their selfconfidence take the front role. By allowing the quality of selfconfidence to rule you, the fear and panic will recede to the background and fade into nothingness.

Selfconfidence in this case implies concentrating your attention and efforts on the main theme and convincing oneself that you are up to the task. With this conviction, you automatically open the backhouse valve out of which flow fear, inertia, incapacity and low self-esteem. As soon as you arrive here, the so-called fear factors in and around the interview will be dispelled and you will find yourself ready to take full control.

Cheerfulness will don your face, you will feel excited about the event and look ready for the test. In this mode, your interviewers will see a winner-candidate instead of a clumsy, timid and ill-adjusted one who is here to try her luck.

Every job interview has its hurdles area and no matter how intelligent we are, some uneasy beast may stir us at the lower abdomen of our tummies as the clock ticks to the event. And when the event arrives finally and we sit in front of the job-giver to prove that we are the man, woman or whatever, a guenuine smile, a warm handshake, a little pleasant joke and the abundance of selfconfidence will combine to take away the stress of interviewing and bring along victory.