There are so many variables in an interview, and every one of them is subjective. I’ve been mulling over how to distill this dynamic to its most basic point as a concrete starting point for any job seeker. Most of the variables come from things over which the job seeker has no control or influence. As hard as it is then, if a past interview seems to have gone south due to one of these, the job seeker has to just let it go and look forward to the next one.
I’ve been on both sides of the table, I’ve mentioned this before. Depending on which side of the table I find myself, I do my best to keep awareness in the back of my mind for the other side.
The most basic point is that this is an interaction between two people, most likely complete strangers, who both want the encounter to be successful. The job seeker wants to land a job that will be a good fit. The interviewer wants to get this interview process completed and get back to the regular business of the department – by finding a person who will be a good fit. (Of course group interviews are a likely occurrence, but let’s keep this as one on one for now.)
Are both of the people mentally present? The interviewer might be having a very hectic day, the team might have enough work for two new members yesterday for instance – there were plenty of interviews where I walked in and had to tear myself away from multiple problems. As the job seeker, I hope that you took a moment prior to the interview to center your own thoughts.
There is going to be a whole lot of subtlety in the dynamic that forms during the interview. The two most important traits from this basic and concrete view are competence and confidence. This goes for both sides of the table, but since you can only affect your own focus on that.
Can you tell your example stories smoothly, adjusting details to suit this particular circumstance? Do you make certain that you are answering the question that was asked and not the question that you want to answer? This is how you exhibit your competence and confidence. These traits are also exhibited in your own follow up questions.
Finding your groove in displaying your competence and confidence can take some practice. I’d love to get some examples from any of you.
Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.
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