How to nail a job interview

The holidays are over, the phone is ringing and the LinkedIn requests are coming in thick and fast as many individuals put the wheels in motion to achieve their New Year resolution to find a new job. It happens every year without fail -- January and February are the peak period for candidate activity – conversations, resumes and interviews with those determined to find their dream job in 2014. Actually winning a job interview is hard enough with the volume of applications received, providing significant competition for roles across the majority of sectors. Even some of the most qualified candidates on paper, still struggle at the interview stage due to lack of preparation, and not providing specific examples.

Here are three things you can take on board right now to help put your best foot forward.

  1. Don't be a robot, be yourself

    I know what you're thinking – that's it? I don't need to prepare for being me. I'll just rock up and be myself and that will be enough. Wrong! The majority of people attending an interview are nervous (understandably) and have actually over-rehearsed so much that they end up presenting as a cookie cut-out of themselves – robotic in facial expressions and stiff in their conversational style. Relax!

    Beyond ensuring you have the actual competencies to do the role, interviewers often hire people they like the most. So while being polished and professional is important, you need to demonstrate warmth, build rapport, find that common ground and always be genuine. If you are going to be hired, remember you need to fit the culture (they need to like you enough to spend a 40-hour week with you!)

    A candidate I interviewed last year, arrived out of breath, covered in sweat and had just split his pants on the way to the interview. It was a great conversation starter and he used the situation to demonstrate his humour and candid nature.

  2. Ooze assurance, lose the ego

    Confidence is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression – when it is delivered with humility, not arrogance. Over the years, I have lost count of the number of people who have waltzed into an interview with their nose in the air, believing they don't need to answer these 'ridiculous' questions because of their experience, status or who they might be. We aren't interested. Really.

    Employers want to hire people who can positively influence others, who are confident in their skills and abilities, demonstrate values based behaviour and who are positive to be around. An arrogant, pretentious or superior demeanour have no place in an interview situation.

    To the candidate who claimed to be personal friends with Gina Rinehart while interviewing for a role in the mining sector – it didn't impress, was of zero relevance and didn't demonstrate actual competency to perform the role.

    If you are good enough to do the role, use real examples and tell specific stories that demonstrate your achievements. We want to know what was the situation, what did you do and what was the outcome? Keep your answers succinct based on facts and figures....your referees will back up your claims and will tell us how wonderful you are.

  3. Your truth & buzz

    Don't lie and tell me what you think I want to hear. I want to know about you, your story, your drivers: what makes you leap out of bed in the morning and enables you to thrive?

    This process involves easily being able to articulate why you want this role and why you want to work for this organisation, including why I should employ you. Inspire me! Tell me about jobs you have loved, leaders that have brought out the best in you, where you have felt stifled and what factors would make you want to flee. Motivation is at the core of everything. When your rational and emotional motivators are satisfied, you will perform, feel ultimate job satisfaction and stay!

    The interview is a two-way street where you need to be true to yourself and recognise what you need out of the employment relationship. It's just as important that you find the right job, culture and leader for you. Being steadfast on 'winning' the interview rather than really listening and conversing to find out if this is the right move, could see you succeeding in the process, but ultimately losing sight of your bigger picture career goals and job satisfaction.

    Leave the robotics and exaggerated self at home, breathe, smile and come in feeling positive, let's get to know each other and discover whether this is a true match for all parties.

This story was first published at Nicoleunderwood.com.au

Nicole Underwood

Nicole Underwood is an executive search consultant and coach who founded her own business based on a holistic approach to talent management. She is a regular blogger on recruitment, retention, leadership and culture and is a dual finalist in the Telstra Business Women Awards.

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