Actually we prefer the term ‘meeting’ rather than the ‘I’ word. It helps to think of seeing the employer in this way as it suggests a more inclusive process, where the candidate is more pro-active and comes forward rather than passively answering questions. As you would in any other business meeting, you must have an agenda; in this case it’s ‘Why I’m the person for the job”.
Remember your objective in the meeting is to move further towards obtaining a job offer. Don’t be hampered by pre-conceptions - you may have the wrong impression of the company and/or the role and have already decided you’re probably not going to accept any offer – listen to what people have to say, you may be pleasantly surprised and anyway, you’ve only got a decision to make IF you’re made an offer.
In short, you must sell yourself! Think of the first meeting in three simple stages – introduction, presentation, and close.
Introduction (budget 10mins) – stay standing in reception and in the meeting room until all parties are in the room - first meetings ought to be eye-to-eye. Meet and greet warmly and build rapport well – personal chemistry is more important than many employers admit to so it pays to take a little time to develop it.
Presentation (budget 25mins) – you must have your own agenda for the meeting with the objective of demonstrating your ability and motivation to do the job. This could be a formal presentation or merely a mental blueprint of how you intend the meeting to progress and what you want to get across.
- You demonstrate ability by stating your experience and achievements (which ought to be listed on your CV). Don’t be reserved! You need to blow your own trumpet in this context. A picture tells a thousand words so ideally, show evidence of what you’ve achieved such as employee league tables, positive appraisal letters, or photos of you receiving an award. Don’t introduce the topic of money or benefits – this will come later if they’re impressed with you!
- You demonstrate motivation by how well you’ve bothered to get prepared for the meeting (not by jumping up and down). Obviously, have a look at the company website and any other information such as press coverage. Prepare questions relevant to the company and the job role. In the meeting state what you know about the company and the role and why you want to join. Don’t be afraid to ask what they’re looking for; listen carefully and match their needs with the benefits you offer.
Close (budget 10mins) – don’t be afraid to ask for feedback or if they have any reservations about offering you a position (this scares a lot of people but be brave!). Isolate, then answer any objections. A positive and presumptive closing question is “how do you think I’d fit in the team?”
Second and subsequent meetings should have all the verve of the first and follow the same principles. Never think you’re home and dry. You’ll have to build rapport with each new person you meet and all will have to be convinced of you, so you must work as hard as the first meeting without presuming you’ve been given a postitive report. Your preparation should demonstrate further knowledge from the first meeting, which will help to re-state your motivation.
As in Edison’s famous quip, perspiration wins over inspiration. Your chance of success in meetings with prospective employers is directly proportionate to the effort you put in. Research and prepare well, and work hard in the meeting. As in most things, the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get!