Three tips to transform your job interviews

By Patricia Maloney, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, Galway

Patricia Maloney, Career Coach
Patricia Maloney, Career Coach

1.     Start from the right place

Typically, people prepare for interviews by looking inwards. They mine their career history for what they believe to be ‘good stuff’. But what is good stuff and who defines it?

Answer: the employer defines it – and they have already done that in the job spec. So start there. Take out a sheet of paper and write down the ten key things the employer is looking for in the successful candidate.

Focus initially on what the employer is seeking. What would they ideally want in the right person? What skills? What attributes? What experience? What contacts? What whatever?

When you have created this list then – and only then – should you bring yourself into the equation. Taking each of the ten things you identified, go back over your own career and see where your experience, attributes and skills fit the bill each time.

You will be surprised what you will remember. There is always a temptation to look at your career through a chronological filter. When you view it through the filter of relevance you will almost certainly lead yourself to some long-forgotten or always-overlooked part of your career history.

When you have this exercise completed, you will have isolated all the key information you need to go in there and woo the employer, secure in the knowledge that have identified what they’re looking for. Which leads us neatly to tip number two…

2.     Me & them, them & me

Me, me, me is a common candidate default setting. Yes, there must be ‘me’, but there must also be ‘them.’

You must not only tell them the great job you did in managing that start-up ten years ago, you must tell them why that’s relevant to them.

“I believe the experience I gained there will stand to me here because you are moving to a new area/stalking out a new territory/opening a new section in your existing set-up”, you should say.

The employer – ultimately – is only really interested when you directly relate what you’ve done, what you have, or what you stand for, to their specific need right now.

So tell them, explicitly, unequivocally and unambiguously.

In an interview, keep thinking about ‘me and them’ and ‘them and me’. Craft as many answers as you can using that equation: some of me (what I have, what I’ve done, and what I stand for) and some of them (what you’re looking for, what you desire, what you’d have on your wish-list for the successful candidate).

3.     Questioning to give, not get, info

“So, have you any questions for us?”

You should look upon this as a further opportunity to state your suitability for the position. Dress a positive statement up as a question.

Ask about training that will be provided. Say something like “I am the kind of person who likes to be fully up to speed with my work and I would be very interested in initial and on-going training.”

The whole interview exists to present you with opportunities to sell yourself into the job. It’s a sales process. So why waste time talking about items that don’t help you get the job?

Follow those three tips, and you will start to perform better in job interviews. Know what you want to talk about, and what they want to talk about, and future job interviews should be much more comfortable and valuable for you.

Patricia Maloney is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Galway. You can read more about her, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE