job interview

Nail a job interview in half a second

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  • A new immersive workshop created by casting agents promises to help you nail the half a second it takes to impress in a job interview. Marie Claire’s Rosie Benson road tests it

    Recent research reveals that prospective employers make snap character judgements in a terrifyingly short time – half a second to be exact. What’s more, as soon as that half-second is up, their ‘subconscious confirmation bias’ kicks in and it actively looks for reasons to confirm the initial impression. Enter Rehearse It! – a new course aimed to help interviewees nail that all-important half-second of a job interview. Built on a unique combination of behavioural science and performing arts, the results are impressive, with 96 per cent of clients reporting success at their next critical meeting. I went along to give it a go…

    What to do before a job interview

    ‘Adopt a confident but relaxed pose,’ says Robin Roberts, a former partner at global executive search firm Egon Zehnder, who founded Rehearse It! after seeing many outstanding candidates fluff their interviews. ‘Then, as your interviewer approaches, subtly mirror their behaviour – walk beside them, make friendly small talk and adopt a similar posture.’

    What to wear

    News alert: Performance is far more important than clothes. Yes, clothes are crucial as they give you confidence, but they mean more to you than to the observer. Select something you’re comfortable in, and focus on the real prep. ‘Most people would rather hire a scruffy candidate and tell them to update their wardrobe than someone well dressed and teach them a better attitude,’ says Roberts.

    Job interview small talk

    ‘I love traffic,’ Janey Fothergill, a casting director who works with Rehearse It!, tells me as we sit down for our ‘interview’. I am momentarily flummoxed and inclined to disagree. Fothergill senses this and says, ‘See, already there is a conflict, so immediately, I’m going to make the interview more difficult.’ Lesson: it’s crucial to be positive and give the impression that you’re on the same page as your interviewer – even with the casual chat.

    Nail the CV spiel

    ‘Research reveals that people read a CV for just six seconds,’ Fothergill tells me, meaning your interviewer probably doesn’t know much more about you than your first name. Before they can cherry-pick your least starry role (or ignore your best one altogether), offer to give them a quick summary of your CV. By taking the reins you gain an element of control and can edit the highlights.

    Body language tricks

    ‘Our opposable thumbs and fingers make us human,’ says Roberts, who is also a trained zoologist. ‘We are hardwired to forecast a huge amount from other people’s hands so make sure yours deliver the right message.’ Roberts says it’s fine to gesticulate, but don’t swing your arms wildly and whack the desk (guilty). And if you don’t know what to do with your hands, perch them on the table, folded together in a relaxed pose. It looks confident.

    How to rehearse a job interview

    ‘Actors spend years learning their trade, so that when they’re on stage they have a motor mechanical memory of what feeling confident looks like, or sad or happy or whatever. And they rehearse it,’ says Roberts. Yep, it’s time to go ‘method’. Rehearse everything from your stance and manner to your ‘lines’ – out loud and with someone else if you can for feedback.

    And if you’ve totally blown it?

    ‘End well – behave as though you are surprised at how quickly the time went,’ advises Roberts. ‘Look as if you could think of no better way to have spent the hour.’ That may require some top acting skills indeed…

    Find out more about Rehearse It workshops here

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