By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers
Going for interview, candidates are often far too focused on themselves.
To be able to look at it from the other side of the table can be a very liberating and powerful
experience. When you begin to realise that the interview panel have a problem too – otherwise known as a vacancy they must fill with the right person – you can set about your interview preparation with a lot less difficulty.
You’re not the only one around the table with something to worry about.
You don’t get the job: bad news for you, but at least you can walk away and try somewhere else.
They appoint the wrong person: seriously bad news for them, because appointing the wrong person can be costly in terms of time and money wasted as you learn they are not the right person, not to mind the mental and financial stress associated with letting somebody go.
So, seeing it from the interview panel’s side can be helpful. Here are four questions the panel is seeking to resolve when they face each candidate – perhaps not in exactly these words, but, sub-consciously, these govern their thinking:
- What have you done before?
- Can you do it again?
- Can you do it for us?
- Will you fit into the culture of our organisation?
Come up trumps on all four of those questions and you are well on the way to securing the position.
In your preparation, set about getting examples ready that showed that, yes, once upon a time, perhaps not too long ago, perhaps even in my current job, I successfully executed tasks that are similar to the ones for which this panel is now interviewing.
And, by examples, I mean real examples. Dive in and give detail. Most people I work with tend to be terse and under-stated in interviews – they need a push to offer the detail. Unless you’re notoriously long-winded, prepare to go a bit further in your answers. Give details and prove successes.
Can you do it again? Have you still got the hunger? Will you be challenged and stimulated by this role? Or have you moved up – or, indeed, down – to a new level?
Can you do it for us? Can you leave where you are right now, walk in my door, and do the same job here? Are there any barriers that might stop you from so doing?
Finally, will you fit into the culture of our organisation? Will you learn to do things the way we do them? Or are you an old dog who can’t learn new tricks? Are you set in your ways? Or are you flexible and open to change?
Regardless of the questions you are asked in the interview, you should try to deal with these questions above. You can insinuate all sorts of convincing information into your answers – don’t wait for the exactly right question to come along so you can give the exactly right information.
Contrive some answers so that they – subtly – persuade the panel that you’ve done this work before, you can do it again, you can do it for them, and you will do it the way they want it done.
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Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.