Remember, it takes two to tango

Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

The bloodied boxer stumbled back to his corner at the end of the round and muttered that “I was doing grand until he hit me”. Job interviews might feel that way too: like the mice and the men, you can lay your plans quite brilliantly, only for an interviewer to throw you off with the first punch, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Candidates, think about the interviewer/interviewing panel. What motivates them? What are they nervous about? How can you assure them that you are the right hire? What do they need to hear and see?

Before you build the interviewer up into some sort of exalted power figure, remember that they, too, are under pressure. They’ve a big decision to make.

If you don’t do well, you walk away without the job. Sick and sore, probably, but you’ll get over it. Another bus will come along.

If the interviewer doesn’t do well, they have to sit there and live with the problem they’ve created. They’ll pay for it for years – and, in the case of business owners, with their own money.

Bad hires are disastrous for companies. They sap morale. They get filed away as Missed Opportunities. Bad hires frequently over-stay their welcome, too, for the simple reason that there generally isn’t a queue to whisk them away somewhere else.

Having participated on numerous interview panels over the years, I am only too well aware of how complex the role of interviewer is.

I have sat in interview rooms after days listening to people and agonised over the minutest of things in a bid to separate the leading candidates. The more you discuss it with your colleagues, the more you realise the importance of what you are doing.

Companies want to hire the right talent. Remember that: that’s the famous secret sauce, nothing more elaborate than that. Sometimes the panel will agree on the best candidate quite easily: more often than not, though, there will be debate and disagreement before they arrive at a decision.

It might be good to remember that next time you go for interview. Think about how you can ease their worries by showing yourself as the best candidate: achieve this by doing your homework, anticipating their needs and articulating how you fit their requirements (presuming you do).

The more specific you are, the better the picture you will paint in their head. A regular failing of great candidates is to stay too vague or abstract: in an interview, detail is your friend. Detail proves.

Most candidates do not think about the other side of the table. We can get very self-centred going for an interview. But it takes more than one to tango: if you can help them get a star on the back of their copy by hiring the right person, you will have done them a great favour too.

There is pressure on both sides. Never forget that. Both parties have something to gain from the encounter. Behave like an equal rather than a cap-in-hand subordinate. Aim to create a conversation between two professionals and hopefully that will get you over the line.

They’ll thank you for it.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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