What interviewers see and hear
Get an insider view of the job interview from career coach John Lees, the author of How To Get A Job You Love.
For candidates, interviews can feel stressful, but for experienced interviewers they’re daily routine. These interviewers have one simple objective: finding the right person in the right timescale. However, they are often bored by sound-alike candidates and hope for helpful, lively people to brighten their day.
Here are 7 candidate strategies which build on the way interviewers see the process.
1. Make it a comfortable experience
Learn how to be easy to interview – responsive and warm whilst allowing the interviewer to maintain control. Avoid going into long pre-packaged speeches, talking about things that won’t score you points.
Interviewers can lose focus and start thinking about anything except the interview. Short answers, focusing on the needs of the job, will help them get through their checklist, and allow time for helpful probing of facts.
2. Focus on the job
The second big distraction happens when your focus is all on you, and not on the interviewer’s problem of filling the specific role. Good preparation means analysing the tasks that make up this role and preparing short, punchy examples of your relevant achievements.
3. Make sense of your skills
Don’t just pitch a list of the things you can do: name, frame, and measure your skills.
Name your skills using language the employer knows (pick it up from the job description), frame your skills by saying enough about their context to reveal the challenges faced, and measure them by indicating the level of difficulty and concrete outcome.
Don’t expect employers to spot transferable skills, especially if your background is unusual. Explain your skills so that they not only make sense, they grab an interviewer’s attention.
This means tuning in to the language used in a job sector to describe top-level performers. Supplement web research with live conversations so you really understand the organisation.
Want to ace your next interview? Get expert advice from these articles:
Claude Littner’s interview advice: The Apprentice star gives his top 5 tips.
Ask the right questions: Learn how to answer: “Do you have any questions for me?”.
Clear those interview hurdles: Discover how to ace 5 different interview stages.
5. Avoid being predictable
Remember that anyone who interviews for a living has heard all the clichés from candidates claiming to be team players or winners. This typical ‘interview speak’ makes you far less memorable, because you deliver the same message as everyone else.
Present useful evidence in a fresh, honest style, not a glib pitch. Focus hard on the tasks and responsibilities required within the role and give concrete examples from your track record, as well as stating your potential. Practise energised three-minute stories which reveal your experience and motivation.
6. Listen, and pause
Answering the question in your head rather than what’s been asked increases interviewer frustration. It’s better to listen carefully, pause, and think clearly before answering. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification either, so you give interviewers exactly what they want.
7. Hit the target before you leave
Don’t hide your best material or hope it will be uncovered. Decide in advance which half-dozen job requirements matter most, and rehearse short bursts of personal material to match each point.
Get these key points across even if relevant questions aren’t asked. Interviewers remember the first and last thing you said more than anything else, so make your final point a clear statement that you match the role.
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