Do you have one of those kids who beats you out of bed on Christmas morning? If you do, you’re missing one of my favourite scenes, and it repeats itself once every year. The scene of course is where I’m sitting in the living room with the tree lit and as I hear my daughters feet thump to the floor telling me she’s awake, I stop whatever I’m doing and look to where she’ll make her first appearance so I can see her reaction to the presents, and that first magical moment of Christmas morning.
I will have gone to bed last the evening before, and there will be numerous presents arranged under and around the tree that she is not aware of; some wrapped, some visible, and much thought gone into placing each in such a way that the eyes can take in the spectacle.
By the time dinner rolls around, equal care will have been taken not only in the cooking of the Christmas turkey, but also in the presentation of the entire meal and table. The best linen is out, the table settings are carefully arranged around a centerpiece, the Christmas crackers on each plate, the trivets arranged and spaced evenly so hot dishes can be available to everyone at the start of the feast, and the ordinary salt and pepper shakers replaced with the festive pair brought out at this time of year. Nothing is left to chance.
Now all this advanced planning and preparation, right from the composition of the shopping list to the last taste of minced pie and ice cream, has been carefully constructed. Putting that plan into action usually results in a less stressful day, more merriment for the host and hostess, and all who are present derive the best from what is on offer.
Turning to your job search or your role at work in an existing job, isn’t it equally important that you take the necessary time and care to craft your own image, your own brand, and in so doing, reduce your own stress? Of course it is. In supposing you are preparing for an interview, you should take the time to plan your strategy, how you want to be perceived, anticipate certain questions and devise possible answers to each. Winging it might be better left for your competition.
Get out your interview clothes and look them over a day or two before you’ll put them on. Is everything clean? Maybe your shoes could use a little polish, especially if the salt at this time of the year has caused salt stains to appear. Think about ironing that shirt, your skirt or pants, and think about the accessories too; your jewellery, watch and any purse or portfolio you might bring. Keep jewellery to a minimum.
That first moment when you walk in to meet the interviewer is just like that first moment I see the reaction on my daughter’s face on Christmas morning as she checks out the tree. I’m sizing up her reaction and get great pleasure from that few seconds, and an interviewer is sizing up you in a couple of seconds as well.
The interview itself is just like Christmas dinner. You get called in, you sit down, you exchange some pleasantries and you hope the initial presentation is excellent. Then each dish is just like a question at an interview with one main difference; you can’t pass on something you don’t like. If you are fortunate, after the interview, the interviewer feels they have enough and can make a decision based on what they’ve heard. Sometimes, you get called back for a second interview, just like you might get passed the turkey and mashed potatoes for a second go round. Negotiating your salary or start date is like telling the host the size of the piece of pie you’d like, and whether or not you want ice cream on the side, or which of the three desserts you’d like to sample.
Oh and you’d be best to remember to thank the interviewer for the interview akin to thanking your host for the wonderful meal. Good manners go well in each setting.
Think carefully now about your image you wish to convey. Set aside perhaps some clothes that you reserve for interviews to ensure they are ready when you need them. In addition to clothing, consider your personal grooming; your hair, for men your facial hair or lack thereof. As you put any Christmas gifts of clothing away, do so with care and hang things up properly so they don’t come out all wrinkled on the day you need them.
Here’s a glass raised to you and good wishes for a prosperous and successful new position in 2013 shortly to come!