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How Important is the skill of interviewing?

As a recruitment business that has put thousands of people through interview processes over the last 25 years it might not surprise you to learn that we think the art of interviewing well can be one of the most underestimated life skills you can have…

Often in tightly contested hires our clients will be torn between 2 or 3 candidates who all possess the credentials on paper so it will invariably come down to who can convince the hiring team at interview that they are the right person for the job. I’d even go as far to say that often we have seen many examples where someone with slightly less experience has landed the position over a better-qualified candidate due to being more impressive at an interview…

Given that an interview process is often 2 or 3-hour-long discussions with the hiring team, the fact that this can decide whether you secure your next role over the experience you have gained over the last 5 years vs another candidate I think highlights the importance of being able to sell yourself well at an interview.

Interviewing technique is not something that you learn at school (at least I certainly didn’t!) and some people will naturally be more competent in an interview scenario but below are some tips to improve your chances during an interview of securing that position you are pursuing…

  1. Solve the problem – Identify the problem you are being brought in to fix, visualise how you will solve the problem the employer faces and walk them through exactly how you will achieve this for them. If the Hiring Team can also visualise you in the role and the benefit this will bring them this will massively boost your chances.
  2. Always be closing – this is a classic sales mantra but it really applies to interviewing too. Try to leave the interview knowing you’ve addressed any point of concern they might have. I would recommend asking if they have any concerns about your suitability for the role. Unless you ask you might leave the interview without knowing they had a concern and therefore missing the opportunity to address this.
  3. Research, Research, Research – This is a pretty obvious recommendation but surprisingly overlooked. You really need to research the company you are interviewing with, read any press releases you can find, find out who their key personnel are etc… Showing you know about the company demonstrates you are serious about the position and will also give you the basis from which you can answer their questions. Having not researched is a sure-fire way to put the Hiring Company off. If applying for a position via a Recruiter I would always recommend asking them for any guidance on who you are meeting with and what format to expect if they haven’t already told you!
  4. Stick to the Question asked – Try to listen as carefully as possible to what you are being asked. You don’t need to answer right away so taking a pause and properly thinking about how to address the specific question asked of you is important. Try not to go off on tangents and lose sight of what was originally asked.
  5. Be Honest – Questions will often be asked where you perhaps lack experience of. If you try to fabricate 9 times out of 10 you the interviewers will know that you don’t have the experience they have asked of. There is no harm in saying that something is a current blind spot in your experience but you would be excited to learn. Companies will value integrity and enthusiasm over trying to cover up for something!
  6. Ask Questions – interviewing is a 2 way process. As much as a company is assessing your credentials for the role, you are also assessing whether the company is the right fit for you. An interview should be a conversation, not a Q and A session and asking questions yourself not only helps shape your view of the company/ the role for your own guidance but also demonstrates you are taking an interest in learning about what you are potentially going to be walking into.
  7. Practice – Particularly relevant for those with less interview experience but applicable to even seasoned interviewees. There will be some standard questions that frequently come up in one guise or another so practicing how you would respond and having a good idea of what to say already is recommended i.e. what attracted you to this role? Involving family members/ partners in helping to ask questions will get you in the mindset of thinking on your feet even if it’s difficult to recreate an interview environment.

If you have an interview coming up I hope the above is in some way useful and good luck on securing those dream jobs!

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