3 P’s of successful interview technique

How to improve your interview technique

Becoming an exceptional candidate is something you can do. Most people don’t take the trouble. Most interviews don’t go that well; most people are bad at them. The truth is that many recruiters are not particularly good at interviewing either nor particularly effective. So, if you prepare properly, and are a good interviewee the odds are stacked in your favour.

To put in a good performance think about planning, practice and positive psychology. An interview is an audition. You need to project yourself as the sort of the person the interviewer wants to hire; as someone they want on the team.

1. Be prepared

It’s not just a question of researching the organisation. You need to understand your interviewer and why he is hiring. One way or another he is seeking a resource as a solution to an identified problem. Just checking out their website and report and accounts is not enough.

Work on understanding the organisational need and how you can add value. Look at the challenges and opportunities they face and work out how to show that your experience and expertise are relevant. Explore their marketplace, competitors and the changes taking place in the industry sector concerned.

Use your network to find information about the interviewer and his preferences, the company and its culture. Use LinkedIn and ZoomInfo to gather all the intelligence you can.

2. Practice your answers

I don’t necessarily mean being word perfect. I’m talking about what you say when anyone asks you what you do, why you left, what you have achieved and so on. Can you talk about yourself comfortably, with confidence, concisely with clarity? Practice so that you have the right words, so that you don’t get flustered, so that you talk at the right pace and, crucially, know when to stop. Remember the need for consistency between words and body language.

In an interview situation you have to know your CV by heart. None of it pops into your head at the last minute; you know what you are going to say and what spin you are going to put on it. A good interviewee has learned his or her lines in advance and is focusing much more on delivery than off-the-cuff replies.

Be interactive. Use the 70/30 rule

What you really need to do, though, is to make the interview interactive! People trained in interview techniques are told to use the 70/30 rule. That is to say the interviewer aims to talk for about 30% of the time allotted and the candidate talks 70% of the time, in response.

The smart candidate actually wants a 50/50 dialogue. You should aim for a conversation, directed along the lines you prefer – whereby you can play to your strengths. The interviewer can only go with what you give them. This is best illustrated by using the ‘What was your biggest business mistake?’ question. Do you really want to tell them your biggest mistake? Really? You decide!

Positive interaction is what you are aiming for in the interview situation. Make it easy for the interviewer by saying “Have I told you all you need to know on that subject? Can I give you more detail?” Build rapport, find some commonality. But remember it’s not a monologue, you are both actors in this interview and it is a dialogue, a conversation, not a solo performance.

3. Be positive

Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”. You’re motivated, you’ve done the prep and have the drive to succeed so visualise

Whether you call it confidence or self-esteem or self-belief, to shine at interview you need to show that you will make a good employee. Show that you are good at inter-acting and reading your situation, good at selling yourself and your ideas. Practicing your interview technique will make it so much easier to shine. There’s no need to be nervous is you believe you are a good candidate. If you believe you can do it, then you can do it. You know it because you have prepared, practiced and are ready to show what you can do.

Follow through

After the interview send in a letter. Thank them for seeing you. Reiterate how interested you are in them and the role. Review the key points of the interview when you discussed challenges and opportunities and outline how you can help them meet these.

No guarantees, but if you work at it you’ll become a better interviewee and give yourself an advantage in a tough economic climate.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

Posted in Homepage, Interviews
3 comments on “3 P’s of successful interview technique
  1. Aynur says:

    Thanks! I’ll practise!

  2. Scott says:

    Michael, Great post; I especially like the 70/30 rule. I’ve been on several interviews where the interviewer talks 70% of the time – I just nod and smile!

    Practice is often under-rated but so important. I stress that with my clients. I intend to use the Henry Ford quote in the future with them as well.

  3. Completely agree with you Scott – practice is often so under-rated. So important to understand the benefits of practising answers to interview questions and writing down bullet points each time …

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.