Attack their perceptions to put yourself in the frame

The reasons why the employer can’t give you the job often remain unarticulated during an interview – and that silence will scarcely do you any good.

If there’s an elephant in the room, better that you mention it.

There are often reasons why they feel they can’t give you the job: you’re too old, too young; too excitable, too boring; too compliant, too loose; too blonde, too brunette; too yin, too yang.

But interviewers may not address the pertinent matter in the interview. They might be happier shying away from it, particularly if the shortcoming is a matter of opinion rather than a matter of fact.

But, rest assured, it’s on their mind.

Say, for example, they think you haven’t got enough management experience for the role. You’ve only managed people for a year and they see this role as a step-up.

They may not even bring up this perception of your experience – but, when you leave the room, the post-interview conversation might well go something like this:

Interviewer A: “I don’t think she has enough management experience. It’s too big of a gamble for us. We need someone tried and trusted. Sure all she has is one year.”

Interviewer B: “Yes, and she didn’t knock us over with management ideas, philosophies or strategies either.”

And, with that, you join the Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You tray.

When you’re preparing for the interview, it is a good idea to identify the reasons why they can’t give you the job. Make a list of these reasons: be very honest with yourself.

Once you’ve made the list – and hopefully it’s not too exhaustive – you should then resolve to ‘attack’ these issues in the interview.

Off your own bat, say something like: “I realise you may think I don’t have enough management experience for the role, but I really do feel I can step up to the mark here. I enjoy managing people, and find I can get the best out of people by working with them, being firm but fair – and I look forward to building on my experience and expertise in this role.”

That statement may be recalled when they hold their post-interview analysis.

If there’s a barrier between you and the job, a barrier that you feel is only a perception rather than a reality, the onus rests on you to remove that barrier in the interview.

Flavour your answers with re-assurances for the employer. Give them occasion to see the barriers as mere trifles, not insurmountable obstacles.

Aim for a post-interview analysis that includes one of the interviewers commenting that “she isn’t top heavy with management experience – but she is keen on it, and has learned a lot from the experience she has, and she wants to do more. I think I’d be happy enough to take a chance on her.”

To summarise: if you have a shortcoming, either perceived or real, take responsibility for reducing that in the eyes of the interviewer – without making claims you can’t support. If they are looking for a high-wire trapeze artist, and you get light-headed at the top of the stairs, perhaps you’re going for the wrong job.

Is your CV ticking enough boxes? To obtain the free Sli Nua Careers CV checklist and our special CV how-to video, email with CV Checklist in the subject line. Contact Sli Nua Careers for CVs, Interview Preparation and Mock Interviews – tel. 094 95 42965.