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Into the Zone: Nail that Interview

14/11/2016 - by Katerina Andreou
First impressions are made in literally seconds or a few minutes. How you make someone feel will remain with them long after you leave the room, details of what you said will be important but what will stay with them is how you made them feel in your presence. Establishing a dynamic and chemistry that makes the interviewer feel connected to you is essential and a skill worth learning.
Interviews are a delicate performance art, a short window of time when you have the full attention (hopefully) of someone who can alter your life forever. This small snapshot in life is your moment to perform, to get yourself out there and show your edge, your individuality.

Yes, there are the standard formulaic items to check off your list: the suit, open body language etc. but essentially Interviews are a performance. Thinking of them this way will get you into the mindset you need to psychologically prepare and get into The Zone. Candidates often do not consider that being an Interviewer can also be nerve wracking and the interviewer is also conserving a certain impression and making effort to appear professional, therefore getting your interviewer to relax and be comfortable in your presence is a real skill. Asking open questions, paying real attention and ensuring they know you are hearing and listening will encourage your interviewer to talk and also open up.

Like any good performance preparation and rehearsal is everything as is knowing your lines and knowing your audience.

Find out who is going to be interviewing you and research them, if you are using a Recruiter ask the Recruiter what they are like. Make sure you do the same for the company, by profiling the entity and its people in this way you can tailor your performance accordingly. A good Recruiter should already be trying to give you a feel for the company and interviewer anyway, press them for more information if they have not.

For example, a high-end boutique Corporate firm will be a totally different animal to a localised family business where knowing if the interviewers are father and daughter would be mighty helpful! Being able to psychologically reference the situation you are about to walk into can mean all the difference between getting and not getting the job.

When you look the business, you feel the business. With the exterior package details taken care of, you feel confident that you look the part. The next part of getting into the zone, an almost meditative state where you ‘feel’ and are mindful of who you are about the speak with, impress and hopefully make a lasting impression on is the most important. Be prepared to Wow, feel pumped and ready to get that job.

Understand that the interview process is two-way and how the interviewing party makes you feel by the end of it is just as important. Excitement is key, you want to leave an interview feeling excited and that you want to work with that person, for that company. Uninspiring interviews are like a bad 1st date, the preference is going home to a tub of ice cream on a Saturday night.

Above all remember no performance is a waste of time, the outcome is not the most important thing. Each interview, each performance is another experience where you put yourself out there. With each interview you will become more adept at getting into The Zone and approaching the challenge with the verve and grit needed to get that job. Self-branding and being skilled at really reaching people in any dynamic is an essential differentiating factor of success.

For those who performing does not come naturally to, don’t panic, a good Coach can be a defining change maker. Guiding you through and helping you understand The Zone and how to learn and adopt these skills to perform, a Coach can be just the ticket.

Katerina Andreou
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  • 31/10/2016 - by Katerina Andreou

    Your child’s first superhero and idol will be mum or dad, admittedly this will be inter-changeable through the years and phases of their growth and you will fall in and out of favour no doubt. Children do not distinguish between business suits and mummy clothes, business or pleasure, they care nothing for whether it is Business travel or a session at the gym that takes you from them, they only understand that you are gone. They will adjust to you being gone and to your absences when your day extends to a 14 hour stint maybe more. And they will no longer expect you around.

    They can’t be empathic when they are knee high, to when your battery is dying on a last minute client call or when the new mobile doesn’t sync up correctly or if you have yet another dozen calls to make to that one irritating business partner that is standing between you and that deal that needs clinching. They only know the sense of irritable energy that has entered the house and that perhaps play time isn’t a good idea. Our children’s time with us is plagued with our on-line links, connections and presence, with our permanent connection to our business and leads, clients and colleagues. Yet we do not stay that connected or attached to our families, we give it all to our career drive. We run around like head-less chickens feeding our career dreams, being the providers of comfort and lifestyle, safety and security to our families and little people. All the while with a slight guilt that we are not present at home even when we are there occupying a space and all the while (whether we admit this to ourselves or not) slightly irritated that we have to be all things to everyone, at home and at work. The pressure is on and no-one is gaining.

    We indulge our little people by adding the right noises and acknowledgement via head nods and grunts to show we are listening, to show we are interested. But our eye contact, body language and real attention is elsewhere diverted and dictated to by the screen in front of us at the time. If and when we find time to reflect on the quality of our relationships with our children we can feel the guilt and the sense of a job less than well done.

    We travel, we cross the globe to all sorts of destinations and we miss out on household routines such as bed time, bath time and story time. We miss flu season when germs are on the rampage and broken sleep is the order of the week.

    You could argue that your true life’s work will be those small people you gave a life to. The hardest Job Spec will be Mum or Dad. Yet our work careers, our promotions, successes and failures along the way will account for the majority of our time and attention.

    There will be little satisfaction in self-actualising one day but returning home to a house where no-one expects or looks for you there any longer and where your own children may resemble strangers.

    While you are out chasing your tail trying to be the be all and end all to everyone, trying to be the career Exec rolled into Parent, Partner, Friend, Sibling and whatever other roles you have decided to fulfil you will head fast towards burn out. There are striking numbers of high achievers later in life, at their peaks in their careers suffering from psychosomatic illnesses, panic attacks and anxiety related issues.

    As is true in all of life, balance is the only solution. How to achieve balance that promotes sanity, calm and emotional well-being as well as career success? How do we find that key, that solution to maintaining that balance but also incorporating our children into it?

    Here are a few tips and ideas:

    1. Driving to and from places with children is a great opportunity for conversation. When they are small in car seats they are full of words or babble, whole sentences devoted to the view outside the window or the final destination. The absence of iPads, TV or toys means there is little to steal their attention. Take note however, you have to find a way to lead them into a conversation, because just asking "so what did you do today" will more often than not simply get you the customary response "nothing". For surly teenagers, the car environment with its noises and the traffic outside mean a good meaningful conversation can happen which doesn’t require the young person to look you dead in the eye. In short: Get rid of the ear piece and be prepared to listen.

    2. Another way to interact with kids is to find out what they are into and ask them questions even if it means nothing to you. You can show your listening (even if it’s with little comprehension) by occasionally repeating the last part of their sentence and turning it in to a question then building up from there.

    3. When you are due to take a business trip, tell small children some time ahead and count down to it, explain where you are going, show them pictures so they have a pleasant visual of where you will be and what it’s like. While you are away get their other care givers to keep them up to date with a calendar count down as to when you will be home, an actual visual representation of the days helps small children conceptualise.

    4. Skype and call while you are away. A no brainer but Skype or phone dates with your kid at the same time each day as part of their routine means you maintain that connection to them, they know as part of bedtime it’s Good night phone call or Skype so they know you are ok.

    5. Exercise or any physical hobby will help with stress relief and if you can find something that incorporates your kids even better. A lot of gyms or Family sports centres feature activities for parents and kids.

    6. Decide on a time of day when work is over and commit to it, meaning all access and communication with work based people or issues is switched off.

    7. No screens. When you do have time to spend with children engage with them without web support. Talk, sing, play, throw yourself around, be led by the little person. Tell them you are all theirs for that period and mean it, stay with it and do not get lured away by a beep, ringer or notification of any description.

    8. Journal writing. It cannot be stressed enough that ending your day with a 5 minute reflective vomit into a journal is stress relieving and very revealing, can be quite cathartic and cleansing. Free writing is also an excellent form of this and promotes a clearer mind, devoid of ‘interference’, where root issues can be out-ed and dealt with. The hard drive of our minds, our sub conscious, benefits greatly from this clearing type of activity and thereby helps immensely with potent sleep and rest.

    These are just a few ideas to help get you started on the path to following a healthy, balanced life where you and the little people in your life can benefit from quality time together. A fresh approach to managing a calmer work-life balance will also mean you can be the best you can be, not just at work but at home being fully present.

    Katerina Andreou

    How To Find The Balance To Parent, Stay Sane & Thrive In Business

  • 13/10/2016 - by Katerina Andreou

    As HR & Recruitment professionals we are often asked by candidates how to phrase an awkward piece of information, how to put their best foot forward. Is it better to simply omit certain details such as how much you really loathed your last job and instead of pulling your hair out you simply resigned for a happier life? Or is it better to come clean and be human and transparent?

    The truth is interviews are a delicate juggle of integrity, self-branding and PR. Insincerity and desperation can be spotted a mile away. Since the majority of our communication is non-verbal, when we lie or are uncomfortable with something we are saying we have tell-tale signs and the whiff we give off is of someone not quite all that they seem.

    For interviewers the process is a lot about trust. Feeling as though the person you are interviewing is as they appear and will therefore be someone who can be an asset to the company is a key component in the ultimate decision.

    Candidates must find the balance between honestly portraying their capabilities and style but learning how to PR themselves and ensuring the Interviewer has got the full picture of all their skills. If you believe yourself to be a consummate professional do not shy away from emphasising and drawing attention to your achievements.

    One of the best methods of maintaining authenticity is Evidence based replies. When asked questions in the interview, answer using examples to fully illustrate your expertise. When we talk of things we have lived through there is an unmistakable note of authenticity. Our demeanour and language is such that the listener feels assured that we know exactly what we are talking about.

    Phrasing and language and knowing how to communicate information in a manner and content that fits your audience is another talent and crucial factor to maintaining sincerity. Many interviewers also recruit in their own image which is a narcissistic element to the dynamic, being able to mirror and empathise with the interviewer will go a long way.

    If for example Stage one of an interview process for an IT Role is with an HR Officer and not the IT Dept. Manager learn to ‘translate IT-speak’ into layman’s terms. Do not be tempted to blind them with science, this is off putting and the rhythm and pace of the interview will be stilted.

    Interviews are a dynamic process, listening skills are paramount as is the ability to read cues from the person you are conversing with. Being prepared for interview helps keep the dynamic buoyant. Have Questions ready so you can convey your interest and enthusiasm. Being genuine and up front without focusing on negatives can seem like a tall order but will ultimately pay off.

    In short: Be Yourself, but your Best self. Your professional self where you can project your skills and experience, maintain your personality that makes you unique and focus on positives and moving forward. If you feel you are being honest you will feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the discussion during interview and this will help relax you and give you the air of transparency and integrity that decision makers are looking for.

    Katerina Andreou

    Interviews: How far will the truth get you?

  • 23/01/2017 - by Lena Burkut

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  • 16/07/2015 - by Andrew Anastasiou

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