Congratulations! You have been invited to a job interview. You have probably heard much advice about the colours to wear and not to wear, the styles to avoid and so on.
There is no one way to dress but it is always important to remember that a neat, professional, well groomed appearance is well received in most circumstances.
Leave early for the interview – it is bad to be late! When you arrive you will likely be greeted and shown to a waiting area. Use the extra time to gather your confidence and quieten any stresses that may be betraying your nervousness. When you enter the interview room, shake hands with the selection committee chair and, if there is opportunity, with the other members as well. A firm handshake conveys professional confidence; a sweaty handshake conveys extreme nervousness; an aggressive handshake conveys arrogance. After the chair makes introductions they may ask you for an opening statement, so come prepared to give a two to three-minute overview of your experiences and expertise. This should be crisp and to the point and should highlight the unique and specific strengths you will bring to the job. You should talk about your professional experiences back home and how those global experiences will benefit this company and connect it internationally. You have a global advantage, you see the big picture – so do not undersell yourself. If you speak different languages talk about how that will privilege the company. As well, talk about Canada and why you are exactly what this company needs to solidify their place and Canada’s place in the world economy.
When they start asking the questions there should be no surprises for you if you have done your homework. Your research should have anticipated what the company’s areas of focus would be and you should have prepared yourself with company facts and data. Use them and weave them into your answers. Speak clearly and make eye contact with all the committee members. They are looking for behavioural answers that speak of what you actually did, together with your theoretical knowledge of best practices. If you do not understand the question you can ask for clarification but not too often. Be sure to answer what you are being asked – do not “beat around the bush”. Your answers should be neither too short nor too long.
Finally, you should have talked to people before your interview about being your referees. After the interview the committee secretary may ask you for a reference list of people whom they can call to ask some questions about your professional experiences. Best wishes!
• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer.