Who needs a top job as a senior manager or executive? Why bother? It’s only an annual salary of R1,5 million or more. If they want you, they’ll see your potential. Just rock up for the interview. You’ll be fine.
This attitude alone is probably enough to wreck any chance of landing a top job, but just to be sure you can always adopt some of the self-destructive behaviours known to kill a candidate’s interview prospects.
You can …
Turn up late. Blame the traffic or bad-mouth the location, especially if it’s at the hiring company’s head office.
Fail to prepare. Don’t even check the corporate website. Ensure the interview panel know you have done no ‘homework’ by confusing the recruiting company with a competitor or by asking questions that display ignorance of the company and its industry.
Dress to fail. Jeans, scruffy shoes and an open-neck shirt should do it, or perhaps high heels, a revealing top and a micro-mini.
Display self-interest. At the first possible moment ask about pay and perks. Then ask about how much paid leave you can expect.
Even senior people scupper their chances through crass errors like these. They are looking for seven-figure salaries and might be experienced personnel in their 40s or 50s, but still self-destruct.
If you really want the job, you avoid obvious pitfalls.
The biggest key is proper preparation.
Research the recruiting company (inside out). Read its financial statements and annual reports. Make sure you know the names of the CEO, executive team and board members. Prep for the interview by driving the route to the venue ahead of time. This ensures you know the way, the traffic and the time commitment.
Know your CV backwards. Memorize key dates and bring along extra hard copies to ensure all panel members have your CV. Make sure all information is correct and up to date. Tell no lies!
Always display passion and a positive attitude to life in general and your career in particular. Infuse the panel with your energy. Dead fish do not get top jobs.
Share with the panel concrete, well-considered examples of strategic and operational achievements. Punt team efforts and give credit to peers and teams when reviewing career highlights. Be honest.
Ask questions that display an interest in the recruiting company, its industry and the position you are targeting. Strategic issues and corporate culture are favoured topics. Leave questions about pay and perks until later.
Show loyalty to current employers or at the very least display restraint and discretion. Put the focus on new opportunities rather than past disappointments.
Dress appropriately. To be safe, dress up, not down.
Show respect. Switch off that cell phone. This interview is more important than your dinner plans.
Always indicate that you take responsibility and make yourself accountable. It might be tempting to blame others when discussing career challenges, but leaders show resilience. They have ‘broad shoulders and turn problems into opportunities.
Do all this and you have a shot at that dream job.
*Annelize van Rensburg is a director of Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading South Africa-based executive search and talent management company servicing sub-Saharan Africa.