Why trying to ‘read’ the interview panel is a waste of time

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Interview Panel

By Liam Horan, Career Coach & Managing Director, Sli Nua Careers

Liam Horan
Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Q: I am writing this just a few hours after coming out of a job interview. I found it very hard to ‘read’ the panel – one of them was nodding her head and agreeing with what I was saying through it all. But another one, the company boss, barely engaged with me at all. She was indifferent, cold and, not to put too fine a point on it, downright rude. I found this very disconcerting – I really think interview panels should work harder to put you at ease. What do you think? (ER, email).

A: You should not worry too much about the interview panel. What they do is beyond your control and you could drive yourself crazy with that kind of thing, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Yes, it is good to endeavour to build rapport with the panel, but, for a variety of reasons, it may not happen. A more reliable approach is to do your research properly beforehand, building up a good picture of what they are looking for in the successful candidate, and systematically delivering that information across the table in the interview.

Interview Panel

Interview PanelShould interview panels work hard to put you at ease? Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t. Again, this is beyond your remit and you should always be prepared for however the interview panel shapes up.

Some people are naturally taciturn. Some like to turn the screw in an interview. A panel may have agreed on a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine beforehand.

Harsh critic

I have sat on interview panels where the person who agreed most with the candidate turned out to be their harshest critic in the post-interview discussion. And, yes, the silent one might well be your strongest supporter.

How did you feel you did yourself? Did you address their needs? Show yourself as an individual who could fit the bill? Speak knowledgeably about the company? Did you relate your experience to the role at hand?

Those are the questions you should ask yourself after an interview. It is a waste of time and energy to worry about anything else.

This week’s top tip

Try to approach all interviews as if you are meeting with equals – you should not allow yourself to feel like you’re going in to face a firing-squad.

In an interview, both parties have a problem. You want the job. They want the best person for the job.

In fact, it could be argued that their problem is the bigger of the two. If you get the job, you can walk away and go for another job. However, if they hire the wrong person, they have to deal with all the difficulties and problems the incorrect selection will throw up in the years ahead.

Be confident

So, know your value. Be confident about what you can bring. Somebody has to get this job – why can’t it be you?

Whenever I talk about confidence, I always feel obliged to issue a warning about not coming across as arrogant.

In my experience, though, there are very few truly arrogant people. But, it can be a good idea to deliver some answers in front of a friend a family member, and ask them to adjudicate on whether or not you appear over-confident.

However, I have found that most candidates talk themselves down rather than up.

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Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Enniscrone, Galway, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.