The key to nailing your interview? Be ready to solve the employer’s problem.

19th Aug 2019
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The following is an extract from “The Career Doctor” a book by our Managing Director Eoghan McDermott.

If you get your interviewing skills right, you can sell yourself to a particular interviewer. If you don’t, then all the time, creativity, money and research in the world won’t get you the job you want.

A job interview is, in fact, a very simple interaction. One side of the table has a problem – they need to have a position filled. The other side of the table may be the solution to that problem and it’s down to the interviewee to prove that they are that solution.

Interviewees should approach the interview as a problem­solving exercise in which they are putting themselves forward as understanding the needs represented by the vacancy and as the best solution to those needs.

Accordingly, every job interview should be approached, from the applicant’s point of view, with this attitude: ‘I understand what your company is doing, I know what you’re trying to achieve with this appointment and I believe that what I can offer you will help you to achieve that.’

Obvious? Of course it is. Except that many job applicants go into an interview with quite a different attitude, such as: ‘Gimme the job because I need it.’

The freedom to be able to adopt the correct attitude to the interview will come about only through a thorough understanding of what you have to offer and how that can be related to the needs of the target company. The key to success here is through proper preparation with this goal: At the end of the interview, the experiences and capabilities of the interviewee will be known, understood and clearly related to the

position on offer.

That’s it. That’s all you can achieve. But if you achieve it, you’ve radically improved your chances of appointment.

There are no secret techniques or tricks to make you better than you actually are. People who spoof or hype or generally indulge in overselling are on a loser from the moment they open their mouths. A successful job applicant tells it straight; is understandable, credible and memorable. They communicate to the interviewer the reality of what they are and present the best of that reality. They don’t spout learned-off answers from books, or produce monosyllabic responses that make them seem dull and bored, not to mention boring.

In order to do an honest, authentic and impressive interview, you have to start, not with yourself, but with the people on the other side of the table and with the company they represent. That’s true of all communication: you need to understand the people that you are communicating with. If you want to persuade your mother to mind your toddler for a couple of days, you start by working out how your mother thinks, what else she might be doing and how best- knowing her – you can convince her that child-minding would be a great addition to her coming week.

Yet, oddly, when we set out to make presentations, we retreat from the people we need to influence and concentrate instead on ourselves. In just the same way, when we go for job interviews, we tend to start with our wonderful (or perhaps our terrified) selves, rather than beginning with the people we want to go and work for.