Why It’s Rarely The Best Person For The Job, That Gets The Job

You didn’t get the job. You don’t know why.

And then you find out who did. How on earth did they get the job, over you?

This doesn’t only happen when you’re looking for a job. It happens when you’re hiring too. You’ve hired someone who you thought was brilliant – only for it to turn out, they’re not quite as ace as you thought.

What’s going on?

More importantly, what can you do about it?

The person who does the best interview, gets the job

This isn’t the same as the best person for the job. Hiring via interviewing has its flaws, and one of the biggest ones is that you have to take people’s ‘word for it’ as a marker of their success. Hence, companies sometimes also use tactics like case studies, psychometrics and presentations to evaluate candidate’s suitability. But in the main, most companies still prioritise what is said at interview, when hiring. What this often means is that the person with the best story, or dare I say it, ‘spin’, often gets the job. Conversely, the person with the best experience, but poor interview skills, can lose out.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

If you know this is one of your problems in securing a dream job, you can fix it. We’ve written a fair few insights on preparing for interviews, which would be worth checking out. Click here, here and here. The main thing is you MUST prepare and prepare thoroughly. If you feel totally happy and confident in your expertise and feel you can answer pretty much any question thrown at you, you’re setting yourself up for a fail. Providing the right answers at interview is a craft. It is about picking the right examples to show not only your capability but your career alignment with the role at hand.

Ask the right questions, not the questions everyone asks

On the other side of the fence, as an employer, you may feel helpless to ‘know’ if someone is actually great for the job, if they’re struggling at interview. And vice versa. It’s natural you’ll go with the person you had most confidence in, and that will likely be the person that did the best interview. If you’ve got this wrong in the past, look at the questions you’re asking. It may be that they’re allowing pre-prepared answers to shine through, or not really getting into the nitty gritty of the role. If this is the case, asking more targeted questions will probably elicit better responses from people who struggle to ‘sell’ themselves, and may uncover where more confident interviewees fall down.

Whatever side of the fence you are on, ensure you try to assess someone and get your message across outside of the format of an interview. If you know you struggle at interviews, perhaps get a couple of referees to offer to speak to the potential employer. Likewise, as an employer, introduce some element of targeted questioning or testing to ensure you validate your choice.

Good luck!


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