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Interviews: Let The Real You Shine Through

Doing a job interview is a bit like going on a first date. For the job interview to go well, you know you need to present the absolute best version of yourself but at the end of the day it’s not for you to decide how good that version is! In this article we’re going to look at how to do well in interviews.

Most of us have done as many unsuccessful interviews as we’ve had disastrous first (and last!) dates and in a lot of cases we’ve been none the wiser as to where things went awry.

The problem with fine-tuning your interview (and maybe your first date!) technique in today’s world is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for candidates to get any real feedback on their performance and as a result, many of us may never actually know why we didn’t land the job (or the soul mate) of our dreams.

Well, help is at hand!

We recently asked a sample of HR managers what are the most common reasons why people fall down in job interviews and we hope you’ll find their words of wisdom useful when it comes to your ‘next time’.

How To Do Better At Interviews: The Seven Deadly Sins of Technique

1. ‘’Candidate didn’t bring any new perspectives to the job ’’.

Observation: The most common negative observation is that many candidates, while believing they are qualified to do the job, don’t consider what broader holistic experience they can bring to the table to stake their claim to the job.

Advice from our teamAbsolutely research the job spec thoroughly … but also factor in the things that you feel only you can bring to the role and thus leave no-one in any doubt that you are the ideal candidate.

2. ‘’Candidate was too hard to follow. We weren’t able to connect her experience with our requirements’’.

Observation: Hiring-managers often struggle to understand industry acronyms and jargon, their real expertise being – seeing things for what they are and talking straight. Unless the candidate can recount her experience in a way that is simple and articulate, the interviewer may lose the thread of what you are saying causing you to lose the interview.

Advice from our teamDemonstrate articulately the relevance of your previous experience by being succinct and being relevant. Don’t fudge or lose the interviewer’s attention with waffle. Practise on a family member. Avoid company speak.

3. ‘’He honed in on one area of his experience and skated over everything else – we felt he was hiding something’’

Observation: We all have a collection of shining examples of our sterling achievements and in our eagerness to arrive at them, we don’t think about the ‘journeyman’ aspects of our career to date. These are often as important to a hiring company.

Advice from our team: Tell the whole story of your career. Definitely stress these achievements but volunteer the times when you overcame a weakness as you gained experience and matured. Start by creating a mini database of all your achievements that illustrate a strength or progress on a weakness. String them together chronologically to demonstrate progress over time. Practise until you are confident and in control. Add colour and anecdote to entertain and be memorable.

4. ‘’We only hire if we believe we will be able to promote the candidate. He came across as limited potential’’

Observation: Because we are concentrating hard on demonstrating our ability to function in a specific role naturally we hone our focus to convince the interviewer of our fit for that one role. Don’t forget that companies are looking for long term potential as much as for your suitability to a particular role.

Advice from our team: Consider the broader organisation, the industry and the future. Look at this appointment through different lenses – the wider team, the department, the company, the industry and the longer term. This approach is visionary and inquisitive rather than task-focused, operational and well, ‘junior’!

5. ‘’Candidate lacked passion for the role’’

Observation: The candidate showed no curiosity for the company or demonstrated a real desire to fit in.

Advice from our team: This is your chance to interview the company as much as they are interviewing you. Make sure you demonstrate your eagerness for the role by manifesting your appetite – ensure it is the right decision for you by asking questions. Will the company culture allow you to work in a way that is authentic to you? Will your new manager’s style motivate you? How will your performance be measured? Will you fit in? Will you thrive? Be proactive rather than reactive at the interview.

6. ‘’Candidate seemed to be performing. We were left wondering who the real candidate was’’

Observation: The candidate was different after the interview had ended. I wondered who the real person was – the one that responded to my questions or the one that looked so relieved as he put his coat on.

Advice from our team: The interview has ended and you breathe a sigh of relief. It’s gone as well as you could have hoped for. You don’t want to tempt fate, you want to leave on a high. But watch out for the doorknob moment as your host is showing you out. Don’t let your guard down. Until you have left the building, impressions are still being formed.

7. ‘’Candidate lacked attention to detail’’

Observation: I know our sector is known for its inclusive dress code but she looked like she had made no effort at all.

Advice from our team: Business culture has changed dramatically in recent years and casual dress policy and flexible working conditions are more common. But play it safe and dress interview-appropriate and make sure your shoes are polished. Remember that old fashioned etiquette is a bit like using the interviewer’s name during the conversation. They’ll remember you for it.

In a competitive job market, you need to think about the little extras you can bring in order to do better at interviews. The things that make you stand out from other candidates and from the crowd. With a little more thought and preparation, you will be more become more confident and that confidence is the very thing that will allow you to relax and let the real you shine through! See previous blog post on finding the real you.