How to win over the boss

You know what, readers? Life can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. As students, our jam-packed schedules can get the better of us. I’m here to talk about a particular situation in our lives we must all go through, some of us more often than others. Just the thought of it can make your hands tremble or your heart stop. I’m quivering as I think about it. I’m talking about getting interviewed.
Rita Miseros is a Concordia psychology student. She admits that interviewing is one of the most stressful experiences she’s ever been through. “It’s absolutely nerve racking,” she said. “Knowing someone is going to judge your skills after a 10 minute conversation really makes you stress about what to say.”
We, as students, must all go through it, must stress about it, and must dread it. We all stay up talking to ourselves in the mirror, practicing handshakes with our loved ones and so on. Truth is, there are a few simple steps we, as interviewees, can follow to make us the ones who stand out in an interview. So blare the Rocky theme song before an interview to get pumped and follow me to success!
The number one and extremely important truth about interviews is that the interviewer in question wants to see a confident young man or lady. However, and please listen, I said confident, and not cocky. In my experiences as an interviewee in my countless job changes, I have learned that bosses love polite confidence, whereas arrogance will be completely and utterly ignored. Look at yourself in the mirror before an interview and tell yourself that you are the best one for the job, but that you’re also not the only one. Trust me, there’s quite a fine line between admired confidence and annoying cockiness. What’s key to remember is that your interviewer holds the reins to your future within that institution, and therefore you have no right to call him “dude” or “bro”.
“I did the mistake of calling my interviewer ‘man’ once. It wasn’t in a bad way, but he looked at me in the eye and told me to call him Mr. Leduc, please. The interview went on coldly,” said Pritpall Gill, a Concordia business student.
Leo Gervais is a professor in Concordia’s journalism department, and he has done his share of interviewing. He knows what to look for in a man or woman after years of experience in this particular field. He argues that one of the most important aspects of the interviewee’s first impression is the respect he shows for the interviewer.
“If I was the interviewee, I’d call him ‘Mister’ until told otherwise,” says Gervais. “You never know what response you’ll get when you call him by his first name, he might hate that.”
That being said, my personal opinion is that formality, to a certain extent, is overrated in interviews. This clearly doesn’t mean going in there and pretending the interviewer is your life-long friend. He’s not. However, most of us take formality to an overwhelming extreme. Sorry to all interviewers, but we’re not sitting in a meeting with God himself. This is a man or woman you want to be able to build a strong and professional relationship with, and a rare skill is to be able to portray that in the manner of a 15-minute interview.
Here’s a little secret that many interviewees don’t know. Many students go for a part-time job interview, sometimes absolutely clueless about what the company does. You’ll be surprised to know that this is also the same for adults. Sorry to burst your bubbles out there, but the interview isn’t only about you. It’s about the knowledge you have for the company that is considering hiring you. When you know the company’s history, it shows that you came prepared with a handful of useful knowledge.
“When you go in there and you know the company’s history front and back, it’s impressive, it’s even flattering,” says Gervais. “It’s all part of being prepared.”
All I’ve said beforehand, guys and gals, goes under the bubble of being prepared, and this covers many aspects of the interview. Many of the key components of being prepared take place before the interview itself. You need to be dressed appropriately for an interview, but not too well dressed. This isn’t your wedding, but it also isn’t a basketball game.
“I’ve had people come in looking like bums. It’s a major turn off, and you really question his seriousness,” says Helen Merk, a credit manager at a distribution company in Montreal. “I’ve interviewed many people, and looking clean is big part of being ready for the job.”
Another simple thing that many people fail to do is be on time. Show up 10 minutes early while you’re at it. It shows that you care, and interviewers really like that.
“If you’re on time, you’re late,” is Gervais’ catch phrase.
It’s these small things that can put you higher than the next person in line. If all are done correctly, you have the enormous advantage over the person who wore jeans or the person who showed up two minutes late.
Combine these aspects of being prepared and you will succeed. But let’s not forget about something that has had more significance in the past few years in the interviewing world, and that’s body language. We always get the usual advice telling us not to slouch and to keep your back straight, but we tend to push this advice aside very often. However, psychologists nowadays have proven that our body language says a lot about us as a person, and you can count on your interviewer to know all about this. Geoff Ribbens and Richard Thompson mention in their book Understanding Body Language that “an enormous 50 per cent of the messages we communicate are through posture and gesture.” They suggest keeping a “low profile,” meaning keeping your gestures very cool, calm and collective. “Those who seem too aloof never get a foot through the door,” and as interviewees, that’s precisely what we are trying to do.
I realize that this is quite a lot to take in for all the young interviewees out there. But most importantly, and I apologize in advance for being corny, is be yourself. There’s really more to this saying than what meets the eye. It is by being yourself that you will be the most comfortable in your own skin. So show your character and be sure to stick out, dress to impress and rip the interview apart.

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