Getting fit for the recovery: 5 Key factors for successful interviews

Getting fit for the recovery: 5 Key factors for successful interviews
Published: 22 January 2021

It’s a highly competitive jobs market at present. With reduced vacancies in the market, down a third in Q4 when compared to the previous year, and response rates for senior appointments up over 200% for the same period, getting every part of your personal marketing right is essential.

In my last piece I focused upon getting your CV right. Assuming that the CV has done its job and landed you that all important meeting, it’s now over to you to perform! The last ten months have seen interviews shift from face to face onto digital platforms, and we’ve all had to adapt. The interview is your opportunity to show the facets of your experience, in terms relevant to a specific audience. And this experience comes wrapped in your personality and guided by interpersonal skills.

On digital platforms careful engagement of your audience is never more important. But the core elements of what makes for a good interview remain the same. So, what makes good candidates stand out?

  1. Solid EQ & IQ – good candidates know who they are, where their strengths lie, and how they leverage their skills in the workplace. This is in the here and now, but importantly also how it plays forward to the next challenge.
  2. Drive – this isn’t about gung-ho, high octane, boardroom table thumping. It is a simple awareness of their personal motivators, experiences, skills and how this package aligns to achieving the next career goal. It’s about understanding the pieces of the puzzle that are in play, and which piece comes next.
  3. Achievements – great candidates display a clear focus upon measurable outputs. They go beyond ‘personal successes’ and link their contribution to the attainment of bigger picture business benefits. 
  4. Communications – simplicity of approach is king. Clear, concise messages delivered in a manner that best fits the audience – internal or external. This is accompanied by the confidence to challenge, question, and actively listen.
  5. Influence – they have the knack of getting things done, and bringing people with them at every level; superiors, peers and subordinates. Ideas are seeded, strategies borne out of collaboration, and delivered with shared outcomes.

In amongst the excellent accomplishments that you choose to share with your interviewer, do make space to show your personality. ‘Fit’ is a critical part of every hire, and the right fit will always tip the scales where skills and experience draw even.

Getting organisational ‘fit’ right when interviewing remotely, is an area where both candidate and hiring manager need to work hard. The small screen limits the physical cues that we instinctively read when we are present. It is the skill of active listening and careful audience engagement which will give you the triggers to adjust your style, change tone, or actively bring a participant into the discussion.

Digital interviews lend themselves to a more upbeat approach. Concise to the point answers that illustrate the ‘critical path’ are always a good starting point. Long draw out answers rarely excite. It is easier to add greater insight, than to recover your audience mid-way through a long-winded tale. If you don’t get to the ‘good stuff’, it’s on you. Take active ownership of your own performance. Check-in with your audience to ensure you are hitting the mark, check comprehension, and that you are answering the questions to the satisfaction of the interviewer(s). If the tech fails, stay calm – it happens, and we’ve all been there!

This short piece has deliberately avoided the ‘Interview 101’ tips of turning up on time, boots polished, well pressed etc.  Falling short on these simple elements is doing yourself an avoidable injustice. The market is on the rise and competition for roles is increasing dramatically - so get yourself fit for the challenge or risk being out competed by those who have.

Matt Cockbill leads the IT & Digital leadership practice at Berwick Partners.

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