There’s an important interview issue that’s often overlooked. Interview preparation isn’t just down to you; it’s not a one-way street. The outcome rests just as much on your interviewer’s approach as the quality of your answers. So what happens when the interviewer doesn’t follow the rules? Can you win the battle of wits with an interviewer determined to find your Achilles heel? Is it possible to change the mind of an interviewer who knows they want to hire the person they saw just five minutes ago?
The truth is, it is. The trick is knowing how to cope with whatever style your interviewer throws at you. From the ‘made their mind up already’ interviewer to the ‘chatty interviewer’ – who talks but doesn’t really ask questions, you can prepare yourself and cope with any of the questions thrown at you.
The ‘made their mind up already’ interviewer should be tackled directly but politely. If you know you’re up against a known internal candidate or if the interviewer makes a remark about your experience that suggests he/she has seen more experienced people then ask them what exactly they’re looking for and who their ideal candidate is. Then reply, point by point, demonstrating you have all those attributes. Another good trick is to wait until the end of the interview and ask the interviewer what reservations they have about your application – you can then at least refute these (logically and calmly of course) and give yourself a fighting chance.
Chatty interviewers, although they sound easy going, can be the worst. The problem is they’re so busy talking about the role they don’t gain any clear sense of your abilities as a potential employee. If you’re faced with someone like this you’ll have to work hard to turn their focus back onto you, either by asking them questions like “how would my experience benefit the type of department you’re describing?” or by being a bit more direct, for example “do you have any questions about my experience of doing X as I imagine that would be a big part of this accountancy role?”
Obviously, the biggest key to successfully winning through a tricky interview is to be ultra prepared. This may sound like a lot of hard work but the key is to not forget the basics! In an interview situation these can range from ensuring you know the exact time and location beforehand to knowing who you’re be interviewed by and pronouncing their name properly.
Even in these days of business casual always wear a suit. As soon as you enter the building conduct yourself as if you were a potential employee. Be polite to everyone you meet from the receptionist/security guard onwards. Stand up when the interviewer enters the room and shake hands firmly. Finally, and although this may not seem obvious – never lie!
Job interviews can be nerve-racking. But just remember that whether youre interviewing for work experience or for a fantastic finance job, preparation will always lead to success.