The Ingredients Of A Strong Interview

6th Dec, 2019

Job Interviews and the Power of Preparation

Guest blog by Nora Smith, CEO, CO3

There are few people on the planet who haven’t been afforded the opportunity to be sitting across the table sharing their career story to illustrate why they are the best person for a job.  Very often this is to a panel of complete strangers whose introduction to you has been through your CV and the executive recruiter.

My leadership journey to date has involved sitting at both sides of the table.  As a candidate (with sweaty paws and the sound of my heartbeat so loud that I am convinced that my heart has moved up between my ears) expressing why I am the best person for the role.  I reflect back and cringe about some of those interviews.  Though every single interview experience has been an opportunity to learn. For those interviews that have resulted in a polite no, I am now thankful.  As they would have taken me on a completely different career path.  What is meant to be…

More recently through the growth of our executive recruitment services, I am sitting at the other side of the table. Sitting with a level of empathy that comforts candidates and a fundamental appreciation and willingness for the panel to help them make one of the biggest choices in an organisation’s journey, to select the right individual.  It is a privilege to work with a range of organisations through this chapter of their story and to meet an impressive range of candidates.

The art of a strong interview in a large part does come down to the individuals involved.  From the interview panellist perspective, the ability to make the candidates feel at ease in a formal setting to enable a structured conversation that is based around a series of rigorous questions is no mean feat.

From the candidate’s perspective the preparation done in advance of the interview is often the litmus test of how well they ‘perform’ on the day. That preparation is also key to keeping the nerves at bay.  ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’.

When we are assisting panellists to construct questions for the interview we work on a no surprise policy basis.  We base the questions around the Job Description and Person Specification.  Primarily those questions are competency based however we also bring the organisation’s story, values and ethos to the forefront through those questions.

The research that an individual does (or does not) is clearly evident in those responses.  Preparation gives you power.  It is also important to remember that with each candidate the interview panel meets, they are willing them to shine.  Believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities, that (humble) confidence alongside your preparation will allow you to shine on the day.

One of my favourite quotes is “Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.” I am lucky enough to have found that through CO3 and it is my privilege to work alongside my colleagues in Engage to help others find that also.

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