How to Make an Interviewer Love You
I’ve conducted a lot of interviews. One thing is for certain – there are people you immediately connect with, and people you don’t. A small amount of this is personality – and highly subjective – but the majority of it is related to how the person presents, answers your questions, and anticipates what it is that you are seeking by giving you the information you need, on a plate.
What you’ll be delighted to know is that it’s not rocket science to achieve the above. But there is one crucial thing – your success rests on recognising that you need to do more preparation than you think you need to.
#1 Be informed – do your research and have a game plan
You know that googling the company the night before isn’t enough. Yet – there’s no point in trawling through every set of accounts since 2010 and memorising numbers. Of course, do your research but think bigger picture at all times. Use your research to spot the ‘trends’ rather than losing yourself in the detail. If it helps, think of doing a SWOT analysis on the company. Connect it to the role you’re interviewing for and how this might shape your focus. This is the type of preparation that will win you bonus points. Showing a high-level understanding of how you can impact business outcomes is super attractive.
#2 Up your question answering skills
Don’t think you can wing difficult questions. Yes, preparing for competency based questions and ‘trick’ questions is boring – but absolutely key to winning over an interviewer. What’s even more critical to this piece is ensuring that when you’re then in interview, that you listen to the question fully. Don’t just pick up on the competency, e.g. ‘stakeholder management’ and go straight into your prepared example. Make sure you understand what they’re asking – and don’t go off on a tangent! Interviewers are usually on a tight timescale, so getting your information out clearly and concisely is sure to win you an advocate.
#3 Be clear about what you can bring to them
When you’re asked questions like ‘why do you want this job?’, or ‘what are you looking for in a career?’, don’t give your deepest inner reflection. It’s a typical line of questioning, but telling them it’s ‘interesting, the next step up, and opportunity to diversify your skill set’ gives them nothing, plus it’s going to be what everyone else says. Think about how you can use this line of questioning to tell them what you can bring to them. “It’s a great opportunity to apply my experience in cost reduction and process improvement to a company that is just embarking on a programme of transformation. I think I’d have a lot to add, especially when it comes to working with IT on systems improvements, like I did in my most recent role.”
#4 Make sure you’re aware of your weaknesses
I don’t mean write a list of personal weaknesses – this won’t do anyone any favours! However, being well equipped to deal with questioning on areas of your experience you may be light in is super important. Let’s say you don’t have experience in SAP but have plenty of experience with Oracle and other ERP systems, including an implementation project, be prepared to deflect any questioning on your lack of experience with the positives of your corresponding experience. Skills like these are highly transferable – and any gap in your current knowledge base is easily overcome through research and learning. Being aware of these types of gaps but being confident in your response will make an interviewer not only warm to you but trust you have the capability and ‘cop on’ to know how to resolve these roadblocks.
Lastly, but by no means the least important point, always say thank you. Beyond the generic ‘thank you’ you give at the end of the interview, send a note afterwards (either via your recruiter or directly if you are interviewing directly with the company) to thank them for their time and restate your interest. Noting too long – to the point but clear you valued their time.
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