I’ve interviewed 100’s of people from roles at every level up to Heads Of’ and I’ve managed to get it right more times than not in employing the right people for the right job.
Here are my top tips on what an interviewer wants from you:
1. Convince me you want the job and want to work for the company.
Do your research on the role and company before turning up, there is nothing worse than interviewing someone who does not have a clue what job they have applied for. If you can’t be bothered at this stage I have no reason to believe you would be bothered if I gave you the job.
On the converse, one of the worst mistakes you can make is bad mouthing your current job, boss or company, it makes me think you just want to get away from your current job and not that you want to work for me. It also makes me think that you are the problem and I don’t want problems.
2. Recruit for attitude, train for skill.
There was a shift to competency based interviews about ten years ago that put the onus on candidates proving they could already do the job they were applying for. To me this is completely backwards as if you could already do the job, you should already have it!
Prove that you have that right attitude, have the personality fit for the team/company and the ability to learn and you are way ahead of the pack.
3. Answer the question you are asked.
With the move to competency based interviews came scoring systems and key indicators that are expected responses to specific questions.
When the questions says ‘give me an example of a time’, it means give me a specific example, it does not mean ramble generally or make up a hypothetical example.
Many candidates will be well prepped and have examples ready to answer these types of questions. However, it also means that if they don’t get asked the question they are expecting they will just give the example they have. Or, they will have a really good example that they want to get out and will use it on the wrong question. Both scenarios will result in low scores and no job offer.
4. I not We.
I want to know what you do and what role you played in any examples you give, therefore, always use ‘I’ when answering. Using ‘we’ makes me think you were part of a team and not accountable or a driver. Make it explicit what you did and don’t leave any questions in the interviewers mind.
5. Be yourself.
I want to feel like I am getting to know you, as I want to know if you will fit in as part of the team. It is never sustainable to pretend to be someone you are not. In the end it will make you unhappy or I will realise you are not what I thought and it will make me unhappy; in either scenario, you end up being the loser.
6. If a job comes up that you don’t think you are ready for yet but you really want it, apply anyway.
This works best if it’s an internal promotion you are going for. What this does is get your name in front of the people who need to know you. It shows you want it. It gives you practice. It also means you have specific feedback on the areas you need to work on, which if you can put into an action plan you will have a clear route to the job you want.
I would also consider someone I thought had the right attitude and could be trained for skill to put into a more junior position or development role, with a view to training them up to the full position.
7. Apply for a job you don’t want.
Do it for interview practice and note as you don’t have the pressure you will perform much better. The practice will help you relax when it comes to applying for the job you do want.
8. The interviewer does not hold all the cards.
You should also be assessing the interviewer to see if you could work for them. Be prepared to walk away from a job if you don’t get the right feeling from your potential new boss.
If I like a candidate I will actively try and impress them too. I know the best people will have their choice of roles and I want them to come and work for me.
You have power as an interviewee too.
9. The questions ‘you’ should ask at the end of the interview.
It should go without saying but I will anyway – don’t ask about pay, that will be covered during your contract talks if you are offered the job.
Use the question to find out if the interviewer has any doubts about you; make them tell you what they are and use the opportunity to address them.
Ask if there is anything else they would like to know about you or anything that you did not explain clearly enough and you want me to go into more detail on.
10. End the interview on a high.
At the end if you have anything that did not come up that you feel will be applicable and help you, offer the information up and tell them why you think it’s important.
Then circle back to point 1. And really drill home that you want the job and what you can bring to the role.