In the digital age, ‘simple is smart’. Twitter and other social media have altered expectations.
You’ve sent in your applications, cleared the telephone interviews and bagged a face-to-face interview with a potential employer.
Firstly, well done! You have already stood out from the crowd – and the company feels you may fit in.
Your next stage is to prepare for the interview – not something to dismiss lightly. So here are our 10 top tips to help you with the right business skills to get that job!
Tip #1: Know Thyself
While we’re not talking about navel-gazing here, do have a good think about the professional skills and work experience you have, your personality, the languages you speak, the background you’re from.
While being British Asian doesn’t mean you are any different from anyone else, it does mean that you do not make your ethnicity an issue either.
Being yourself and coming across as confident and comfortable with who and what you are matters more. Employers look for that and dig it big time.
Tip #2: Know Thy Potential Employer
At the risk of stating the obvious, please, please research the company in question.
Browse their website to help you glean enough about:
- What they do
- Their products and services
- Existing and target clientele
- Their history
- Who is in the team
- Key company values
If they have a blog, read recent posts to understand what’s going on in the company. Mention this, if the opportunity presents at interview. This will impress and show you’ve done your homework!
Tip #3: Show Them What You’ve Got
Do you have a portfolio of work you have done previously? This could be work done at university, or in previous jobs?
It would be great to have already made a mark and built up what is increasingly described as ‘brand you’.
Candidates who can supply stunning references from former colleagues, teachers and academics they have worked with, find this adds value to their credibility.
Having this documented can be a sure-fire method of backing up what you say!
Tip #4: Tone it Right
Strike a balance between being sure enough about yourself so you exude confidence but not appearing overly-confident so you seem arrogant or snobbish.
Whether you currently work at a blue-chip business or a SME, or whether your interview is your first since you graduated from university, or the next one for promotion, ensuring your tone is confident and congenial is the way to go.
Tip #5: Time it Right
We’re not just talking about making it on time for the interview, crucial as this is. It’s also about knowing when to answer a question and when to pause for thought; when to listen (and show that you’re listening) and when to contribute.
If there’s another thing that employers don’t like, it is to be interrupted when they’re talking!
And don’t forget, the interview is also your time. You’ve worked hard to get this far.
Judge when to ask questions you need answers for. Employers can favour candidates who are motivated enough to want to see how their career is likely to pan out with the company in question. Ask at the right time in the interview, where the company sees you fitting in – say, two or five years after appointment.
Tip #6: There’s more to ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ than you might think!
Showing good manners is not just something you have to do: it can actually get you ahead.
Bosses always remember someone who is well-behaved, courteous and has a friendly manner that befits the work environment. It’s not always a given in today’s world!
Tip #7: Be Yourself – But Not Too Much!
One piece of advice that is often misconstrued it’s when people suggest you ‘be yourself’ in the workplace.
You don’t need to make a complete personality transformation at work, but what you do need to do is ‘get your antennae tuned’. If necessary, adapt to the way your future colleagues behave.
Granted, an interview panel is usually an occasion that demands everyone to be more formal than usual, but some employers (especially in small businesses), prefer it to be the other way and come across as relaxed and chummy. This may startle you, so be prepared to adapt.
Tip #8: Your e-mails etc. are likely to be judged for their professionalism!
Regardless of whether your potential employer comes across as formal or informal in face to face communication, do stick to the normal rules of spelling, grammar and punctuation when corresponding in emails and other messages, including online posts.
Many employers moan that new entrants to the workplace don’t always have tip top professional communication skills – particularly writing skills. These are in high demand, especially as customers (not just colleagues) can be quick to complain about shoddy communication, as they see it.
Managers know it costs to correct communication sent out with mistakes. Employers tell us that they routinely bin what they see as sloppy, mistake-riddled applications.
If there’s a choice – and let’s face it, there usually is – they generally prefer to appoint candidates who get it right (or seek support in getting it right).
Show that when it comes to what matters the most – i.e. your work – you for one really do care!
Tip #9 Be clear and comprehensible
The business world has changed! No longer is it a sign of ‘superiority’ to use overly-complicated vocabulary or sentences in written office communications.
In the digital age, ‘simple is smart’. Twitter and other social media have altered expectations. When people express complex ideas in simpler form is when we increasingly say ‘wow!’
Content that engages your target audience, that’s relevant to them – and gets your messages over easily and effectively is the name of the game.
So use accessible English when you communicate throughout your interview process. Put your points over logically, so people understand. In the digital age, your employer’s audience may be global as never before. You may need to avoid idiom only a local audience would use.
Focus on the outcomes you and your prospective employer want – and avoid confused messages that may undermine securing that job!
Tip #10 Harness Wordpowerskills!
It’s not just at interview stage that we’re passionate you harness ‘wordpowerskills’! Great communication matters – whatever the job you’re applying for!
You have the wonderful power to choose the words you speak and write. Make the difference. Why be lacklustre if your words can create the right impact – and put the spotlight on you, for the right reasons? Too many job applicants are content to stay in the shadows by mumbling indistinctly, or expressing platitudes that turn recruiters off!
One thing people everywhere buy into, is enthusiasm. That can be the ultimate differentiator.
We’re not suggesting you go over the top – but injecting vitality into your demeanour and vocabulary can help you showcase your talent.
Become the person they remember positively after they have seen everyone else!
Make the effort to propel yourself into your target company’s future. After all, if you can’t be bothered to go flat out, there are always others who will!
The business skills textbook: Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating across Borders (Kogan Page, 2012), can be purchased worldwide.