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Why We Fail at Interviews

fail at interviewsBy Nisa Chitakasem, the co-founder of Position Ignition

When you think about it, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of job interviews because we don’t realise what they represent in the context of our job search. Whilst a lot of us are concerned with perfecting our resumes or spending hours slaving over application forms, we miss the point of the interview. Our resume or application may get us the interview, but it’s the interview that gets us the job.

That is not to say we take job interviews lightly. We recognise—or at least interpret— the interview as a high pressure situation where we are effectively being put to the test, although our emotions in the build-up and on the day may make it seem more like we’re being put to the sword. We tend to see a job interview as essentially a ‘grilling’ we have to endure. The interviewer or—even more intimidating—a  panel of interviewers fire questions at us and if we don’t tick the right boxes by giving out ‘correct’ answers then it’ll be a disaster.

If this sounds familiar to you, there are a few things to bear in mind before getting het up in advance of your next interview:

An interview is not a ‘grilling’. Yes, it is of course a process during which we are assessed, but you can flip this on its head by seeing it as a chance to show why you—the real you—would add value to the employer organisation. The aim of the interview is not so much to avoid screwing up as it is to demonstrate why you believe you match up with the criteria of the role and the organisation. At some stage, you must have applied for this position because you thought you could do it—so let the interviewers know exactly what you can do.

The company is not only choosing you; you are also choosing the company. As well showcasing yourself to the interviewer, it’s important to know that you’re entering the interview on equal footing. An employer not only decides to hire you, you decide that you want to work for the employer. A job interview is an ideal opportunity to find out more about a business and assess whether it’s really where you want to be. Adopting this attitude will help shift the feeling that the process is all about putting you on the spot.

Stand out. The reason why we go through so many job interviews without leaving any lasting impressions is because we think we have to conform. We convince ourselves that not giving the wrong answers is more important than giving interesting answers. So we rehearse ‘safe’, predictable answers to all the questions we think we’re going to get asked, we go into the interview, give all the same answers as all the other interviewees and then go out again. And that’s it. Next time, try giving interesting examples to back up your claims about yourself. Tell an unusual story about something that happened to you, which enabled you to demonstrate a particular competency. Stand out as an interviewee and you’ll stand out as a candidate—perhaps becoming the candidate

There is an Interview guide called How to Ace the Interview that we’d recommend you browse through for more tips.

About the Author:

Nisa Chitakasem, is the co-founder of Position Ignition – a career consultancy dedicated to helping professionals with their executive career change, job search, career choices and career direction.

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