How do we know when a candidate has done well in an interview?
We know it when we hear something like this back from our client:
She’s got a great track record in this type of work and we can really see her fitting in with our team and being driven to succeed in this job. She was really just the obvious choice and we knew it after 5 minutes.
The two key words in this sentence are ‘see’ and ‘feel’ because the candidate managed to:
- Demonstrate relevant skills and experience, as well as a track record of success (this was in her CV but she backed it up in the interview)
- Create an image of a person who would fit in well with the people in the organisation, especially the interviewers
- Make them feel that she would be highly motivated in this role
Generally speaking, anyone who achieves these three things in an interview will get the job.
But this is easier said that done, especially for those of us who are not ‘natural performers’ (an interview is often just more like a performance than a true measure of how you work, so it favours those who are good at performing).
But here’s some things to think about as you prepare for the interview.
#1 What skills and experiences are they looking for (and how can you demonstrate these)?
Hopefully what they want is obvious from the job description and your own skills and experience should be obvious from your CV but don’t assume that they will see it.
They will still want to hear you give examples of things you achieved. So be prepared to explain what you did, why you did it that way and if possible, how you’d do it even better next time.
If you’re well rehearsed then you should find yourself delivering these examples quickly and calmly, and maybe even with a little humour.
But if you’re not well rehearsed you’ll probably go on and on and most likely not even answer the question. So keep it short and sweet!
#2 How can you look like you’ll fit in?
Every organisation has its own culture that governs how people work together, socialise and even dress.
Try to do a little research into the organisation before the interview to understand their culture. You may be able to get this from friends or acquaintances and this will help you not only succeed in the interview but perhaps help you decide if you really want the job.
But if you don’t have any inside info then focus on the positives:
Do talk about how you:
- collaborated with colleagues in previous jobs (give examples)
- learned from your former senior managers or company
- supported your manager or colleagues on tasks or projects
Do not talk about how you:
- Fought with your boss over strategy
- Disagreed with your colleagues on tactics
- Didn’t like the way your former company treated you
Your friends and family might think you’re a war hero when you talk like that, but your interviewer is just going to think you’re a trouble maker.
So keep it positive.
#3 How can you show that you’ll be motivated?
One of the funny things that happens with employers is that they often want candidates that have a strong track record in a particular role but then when they get them they become worried that the candidates won’t be motivated to keep doing the same kind of work.
It’s a no win situation for some candidates!
But you can overcome this if you make sure you give the interviewer some good reasons to believe this job is a natural progression for you. In other words, it is the ideal next job for you because:
- It builds on skills and experiences that you’ve gained in the past.
- Offers you a great chance to learn and develop further or get back into a field that you love etc etc.
It’s probably not a good idea to say that the job is good for you because:
- The pay is better
- You hate your former company (see keeping it positive above)
And it’s probably not a good idea to be too clear about your future ambitions, because then they’ll worry that you’ll quickly become dissatisfied in this job, even if you’ve said it would be a good stepping stone to something better in ‘a couple of years’.
Remember: interviewers want to feel that the job they are offering is the best job in the world (for you).