I’ve interviewed over 5,000 teens and young people throughout my 16-year career as a model agent. How many people can say that?
When people come in to be interviewed, whether to be on the books (MODEL SPEAK: be represented by an agency), an intern or staff member, it’s fair to say there’re some pretty common mistakes made across the board. And an interview is a really big deal. Getting it right is life-changing. Getting it wrong is confidence-sapping at best, soul-destroying at worst.
So let’s do some prevention rather than cure, here. Because once it's been been seen, you can not un-see it. So while it’s true we all learn from our mistakes, there’s no need to permanently scar ourselves or each other as we stupidly put our hand on the hot element...again. There’s also nothing more challenging than trying to pick up a person AFTER they’ve had the stuffing knocked outta them or their self-esteem kicked to the curb because they’ve made a few silly mistakes.
That said, I'm sharing my 5 THINGS: SILLY INTERVIEW MISTAKES TEENS MAKE BEFORE THEY’VE EVEN OPENED THEIR MOUTH.
NOTE: THESE ARE MY PERSONAL OPINIONS AND FROM MY EXPERIENCE & RESEARCH. I HAVE PROVIDED LINKS FOR OTHERS OPINIONS TOO!
1. PERSONAL IDENTITY. ‘Know your self package to the core. Never lose the strength of assets, your values, what identifies and separates you, what makes you unique.’ Eveth Colley
Eveth Colley is right. And it’s awesome we’re encouraged to stay true to ourselves.
Hair pulled across your face and into your eyes? What are you hiding? Crazy, radically-cut or coloured hair? Sure. When you’re applying for a hair salon job.
"well...I love being me and it's awesome being me and I love experimenting and it's fun and stuff..."
Diamond-encrusted super-long nails? Love ‘em. When you’re applying for a nail bar job or as a retail assistant at some cute accessories store. Oh and not that long crazy-fab nails means pole dancing, but depending on what you wear, you gotta take others perceptions into account.
OH HA HA HA. YES I DO LIKE FAB NAILS....
And I’m totally down with goth, punk, new wave, metal, sports luxe, a Village person or a Priscilla Queen. Be what you wanna be. Shout it from the rooftops! Just make sure it’s your rooftop.
YES I'M AWARE THE ROLE IS FRONT OF HOUSE FOR A TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY BUT I WANTED TO SHOW I'M SPORTY.
Because here’s the thing: Absolutely, be authentically, fabulous you. But employers are looking for people to fit in with their culture while maintaining their own identity. As I always say, ‘CATCH THE FISH FIRST BEFORE YOU RIP THE HOOK OUT’. Read: get the job first before you rock out your fave Gaga, Kanye or Snoop Dog look. So choose clothes that are a balanced mix of your own identity while being considerate to the job you’re applying for.
STOP CALLING STOP CALLING I DON'T WANNA TALK ANYMORE. I SHOULDA LEFT MY PHONE ON THE DANCEFLOOR.
Dress for your body. I sport a cleavage. Doesn’t mean I should have it oozing out like a self-saucing pudding from my low-slung tight top. And sure, while I appreciate there are people who love the skin they’re in, as I did when I was a size 18 after giving birth, I don’t want to see anyone squeezed into a stretchy dress looking like an overstuffed sausage, whether you’re size 8 or 28. And denim cut-off’s with tights? No.
2. CHEWING GUM.
FACT: On average, 30,000 pieces of gum are irresponsibly discarded each day on Oxford Street (London) alone. Gum is my pet hate. What are you thinking going to a job interview with someone who could potentially change your life chewing gum?! Because that’s what getting a job does for YOU – changes your life. Unless you’re learning to blow bubbles or quit smoking, just don’t. What’s more, gum takes ages to break down, whether you spit, throw or swallow it out. Have a Tic Tac instead.
3. SMELLS AND ODOURS
FACT: Sense of smell is the strongest sense associated with memory followed by taste, hearing, sight then touch. So while you’re sniffing out opportunity, you’re also increasing your chances of us remembering you emitting who you are.
Here’s the most common smells that get up my nose:
Smoke. Just don’t before an interview, no matter how scratchy the nerves.
Vanilla bean. Yes it reminds me of ice-creams on a sticky summer’s day. Lovely. Problem is, I’m not out in that lovely day licking ice-cream and I can’t stand the sickly-sweet of it for more than 3.2 seconds.
Lavender. Sure It’s a lovely, healing herb. Not for a a job interview though.
Angel perfume. I don’t mind it for a short burst. But an overpowering Angel is not the kind of Angel you need at an interview.
Body odour. No excuse.
Bad breath. Brush. Listerine. Floss. Tic Tacs.
You want to come out of that interview smelling of roses, just not literally. It’s worth playing around with smells and checking them off with people who care about you enough to be brutally honest. Ask them what the smells remind them of. Chose the one that smells of success.
Fingernails. Did you know fingernails clue me in to the kind of person someone is? Yip. Your fingernails also contribute to telling the story of you.
Fab-crazy nails: read above.
Bitten: Psychological stuff in varying degrees. I was a nail biter, though I don’t bite them anymore. It's usually anxiety, though some recruiters say bitten nails can represent good sales people!
Dirty: what do you think?
Long fingernails on guys: like fingernails on a blackboard.
Then there’s limp greasy hair, over-cutesy hair styles/hair accessories, unironed or dirty clothes, massive holes in ears, full-on jewellrey, too much jewellrey, ties tied too short (they're meant to be an inch below the buckle of the belt), bad belts with cowboy or eagle buckles, scuffed dirty shoes, holes in stockings to name a few groomng/personal identity stuff to consider.
Make Up. Don’t wear too much of it, especially foundation. It’s like you’re hiding something from behind a clown mask. So unless you’re going to be paid to make me laugh with silly gags, don’t. Not to mention it indicates you’re possibly a bit of a high maintenance Princess (It takes a long tie to put all that make up on). There’s a lot of merit behind what you see is what you get. Wear a little to enhance you, absolutely. But not so much it gags your personality before you’ve even had an opportunity to speak.
Ohhh! That sounds super-exciting
Bad skin. Sad but true, the world judges. So if you’re going through a nightmare on skin street, as one tends to do around the teens (I still get pimples at 46), then get a good coverage stick, mineral foundation or pressed powder that suits your skin type (guys included). SMITH&CAUGHEYS is a great place to go as there’s loads of different product for different skin types and the staff are clued in to the products. Also try FARMERS. You have to keep exploring ‘til you find what’s right.
AND ALTHOUGH I KNOW YOU KNOW IT, DON’T PICK YOUR PIMPLES, especially before an interview! Remember Austin Powers in the MOLEEE scene? You don’t wanna make a ‘molestake’ because all your interviewer can think of is making ‘guacamolee’ from your pimples.
5. BODY LANGUAGE
Posture. This is huge and (also) tells a story of you, predominantly the confidence story. When you’re sitting slack through the stomach, what story do you think it tells? It shows either a lack of confidence and/or core strength and/or laziness. And trust me, I have to be careful myself.
What story do you think hunched shoulders tells? Shoulders back too far? Head too high or looking down? See? You don’t need me to spell it out for you.
Girls: sit as if someone's pulled you up by the hair in the crown of your head. If you can, do the FROW (MODEL SPEAK: front row): have your knees together, ankles crossed and slightly to the side just under the chair so your feet aren’t acting as a barrier between you and the interviewer.
Guys: never put one ankle across your knee, lean back and wrap your arm along the couch or chair. We want to slap the arrogance right off your face, but there’s the anti-smacking bill. Also be aware if your knees are too far apart, well, what do you think it says? So sit with knees comfortably apart and hands resting in the lap.
YEAH, LIKE I'M SUPER CHILLED...BUT IN A HOT-COOL KINDA WAY...
Eye contact. Flicking eyes tell us a lot about you (are you getting it yet? It's YOUR STORY YOU'RE TELLING). While we're all good with nerves, and they're to be expected, flashing or flicking eyes seems to indicate something dodgy. And be careful of coming across 'stare-y'..
Smile. A lot of people think they don’t look hot when they smile, but you don’t wanna look too-cool-for-school either. Our smile is the most warm, powerful and infectious tool we have. Then they say your smile is your logo. So smile, baby!
Annnnd this post has ended up ridiculously long. Sorry ‘bout that. I just want to make facts and stuff we need to know a bit of fun, because it’s easier to learn when you’re having fun.
I’m teaching all this and more in my modeling/confidence/self esteem/seriously-get- your-act-together-you-have-to-get-a-real-job classes and workshops (coming soon). Because while I'm a fan of research, remember KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER. APPLIED KNOWELDGE IS POWER. Knowing how to drive the car is one thing. Actually driving the car is another. And CONFIDENCE COMES FROM COMPETENCE.
Discover on my blog soon ‘5 THINGS: COMMON MISTAKES WHEN YOU’RE IN THE INTERVIEW’ post for more handy tips.
In the meantime, there’s tonnes of material out there, though here’s some websites I thought useful:
Thanks for joining me! If you find stuff here that could be useful to someone, share it.
Until next time,