Inside the Mind of the Interviewer
Posted by: Emma Trenier, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight
Interviewers are like everyone else. When they have a long day of interviews ahead of them they feel apprehensive, hopeful, excited and tired. Just like candidates do.
Instead of focusing on your fear, focus on how you can best present yourself to your interviewer, the real person, in front of you.
From my experience interviewing and working with other assessors, there are three things you should know about us:
1. We have short concentration spans. Not all interviewers are exceptional listeners. We find it much easier to listen to the answers of candidate when they are well structured and include strong examples. When you provide all the facts about an example without us needing to ask multiple follow up questions, you make it so much easier for us – and so you’re more likely to impress.
2. We want to meet the real you. Interviews often run back-to-back and can be draining for interviewers. We are waiting to meet the candidates who reveal their true personalities. It provides a welcome break to see their passions, motivation and energy coming across. We are hoping to meet candidates who are right for the role and right for the organisation.
3. We are imagining how you will fit in. As we meet each candidate, as interviewers we are thinking about how you will fit in with the company. It helps enormously when you show that you understand the company’s values, vision and purpose and show commitment towards these.
In an interview, there are many things that you can’t control. You can’t be sure of the questions you will be asked, what the interviewer will be like, how many other applicants there will be, or indeed how good they will be.
There are, however, a number of things that are within your control: your self-awareness, preparation, and ability to talk clearly about yourself for a start.
As you prepare to meet your interviewer, human to human, my top tips are:
1. Make it Clear Why You. Clarify the three things that stand out most about you as a candidate – the three things that you want the interviewer to remember. As you approach your interview, whatever style of interview it is, be sure to get these three things across.
2. Showcase your Strengths. Identify your strengths using Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and practice talking about them confidently. This will help you describe yourself richly rather than using too many clichés.
3. Get Feedback. Boost your confidence by asking people who you trust what your best features are and why they would employ you. This way you will be sure that you are speaking truthfully and will feel more authentic describing your credentials.
4. Use the STAR Technique. When you give examples, remember ‘STAR’. Describe the Situation (the context), the Task (what you had to do), your Actions (the part you personally played) and the Result (what you achieved). This will make it easy for the interviewer to gather all the facts that they need about you.
5. Let your Body Talk. Be aware of the clues your body language is giving away. Make sure you give a good firm handshake, maintain eye contact and refrain from foot tapping, hair twiddling and putting your hands behind your head!
6. Ask Questions. Always come prepared with three questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions and this is your chance to engage the interviewer in discussion, showing that you have thought carefully about this in advance.
So, with your interview looming, put your fear to one side, and take control. Remember that the preparation you do in understanding and talking about your strengths, motivations and experience will not be in vain.
You are the real you, after all!