8 Powerful Interview Skills You Can Learn From Chris Gardner
We all have to go through this for a new job and that is the interview. This one word, one simple word, is enough to kill many people in getting the job they want. Sure, it’s just another chit-chat session with new people at a new place but even though you know this, you just simply cannot ace that interview. You stutter, you tremble as you talked, you fidget and worse, you blurt out vulgarity when you say something wrong or pass a wrong comment in front of your interviewers, yes, and one of them is your future boss.
I know there are many books out there to teach and guide you to ace beautifully in an interview but there is no better way than to use a scene from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness where Chris Gardner attends an interview at Dean Witter in a not-so-ideal condition as a case study. We will look closely at each stage of the interview.
- Be confident. Chris was feeling nervous, not just about the interview itself but he was thinking of how to explain his poor dressing to the interviewers. As his name was called out for the interview, it is evident that he was still very nervous (his body language, the hand signs, those eyes), feeling scared as all of us would whenever we go for an interview. Yet he mustered his courage with an “all-or-nothing” attitude and at the same time it gave him confidence as you can see the way he walked into Dean Witter, that body posture, those wide steps. You got the idea what I’m talking about here. Confidence is the key to your first step of winning this battle. Don’t think overly much, just go in and do your very best with all you’ve got.
- Observe the company. As Chris walks into Dean Witter he passes through the main office, where it showed its fast-paced hectic day in the company to him. He looks around, observing every individual (what they were doing) and the entire dynamic scenario as he continues his way to meet his interviewers. In the later part during his interview, he used his observation to his favour by saying that he can demonstrate qualities such as diligence, earnestness and team-playing. All 3 attributes were exactly what he saw in his eyes that were needed to be as a Dean Witter broker. Observe the company as you enter or wait to be called in for interview. Know their motto, their products, awards and such. There are times you may find something that you did not find on their websites or advertisements. They will be of some use to you in some way.
- Professional etiquette. Chris extends his hand to give his interviewers a firm handshake. Now this is a very professional etiquette as would you see like in a business meeting. By doing so it goes to tell your interviewers that you respect them and also it “soothes” them to see somebody behaving like a business person. Imagine yourself looking at a sloppy unprofessional person and a clean professional person, who will make you feel good? Who will you hire?
- Speak loud and clear. Now throughout his interview, Chris spoke with confidence – loud, clear and to the point. At the same time he talks with his hands waving occasionally and those hand gestures. Like people you see giving seminars and talks, these are the confident people who speaks to hundreds or thousands of audiences do when they deliver their speech. In an interview, talk like them and you will win the hearts more of your interviewers.
- Don’t attempt to lie the obvious. It was very obvious something was wrong before Chris came for the interview. Instead of thinking to lie his way through, he told the interviewers the truth about being arrested for parking tickets, ran from police station and painting the apartment. Now if you have something obviously flawed or wrong, don’t try to lie or hide. It’s better to be own up, be honest than to lie about it. No one likes liars and boasters because these folks will not be full of trust in the company should they be hired. A person who owns up and honest goes to show that he is someone who will own up to his mistakes and a trustable employee. Would you like someone who lies to you in front of your face often? I bet not.
- Be sincere to the job and humble. The interviewer Mr Frohm says Chris is smart. Instead of replying a “Yes, of course I am”, he replied with a “I would like to think so myself”. The interviewer also asked Chris whether he wants to learn this business and has he started learning on his own and Chris replied with a firm “Yes” with a sincere “I-really-want-to-learn-to-be-a-broker” look in his eyes back at him. Reply your interviewers with sincerity that you want the job, want to work for the company and not giving a “Whatever-if-have-the-job-good-if-not-I-try-other-jobs” kind of look. Show them you are hungry and eager to learn, to join them on board the company. Be humble because by not doing so, the interviewers will think you as some sort of a smart alec and no one likes smart alec. Smart alec don’t learn and listen.
- Sell yourself when you feel the odds are at you. Chris’s academic performance was not what the interviewers expected to be, even though he came in first in his class and Navy radar class. It was a very small class that getting first in them was not an achievement. These were odds to Chris then but he turned the tables around by stating his principles, his good points, about finding answers he do not know how to answer and readily admitting ignorance to a question. All these in a confident manner. Now if something is not in your favour, maybe your flawed academic performance, your past experience not matching their expectations or whatever it is, you can still sell yourself about your own style, your principles or attributes that will display yourself as someone very keen to work, to learn and to grow with the company. Tell them how your soft skills can help them greatly in return for their employment of you. Is that fair enough?
- Smile and humour. Remember to smile. Crack some light humour if possible to display friendliness in you and your ability to get along with people, your colleagues and bosses. “He must have had on some really nice pants.” Hahaha!
There you have it, 8 powerful skills you can definitely learn from Chris Gardner in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. The skills are real, not just say “Oh, it’s only a movie”. These skills that can be applied to your job interview effectively. It’s pretty easy to pick up these 8 powerful skills – just watch the video clip as many times until you are familiar with the “drill” and when Will Smith’s voice starts ringing in your head, you know you have acquired the skills you need, powerful skills, to excel in a job interview.