How To Make Sure You Are A Serious Contender In Any Job Interview

Whether you like it or not, an interview with one or several people is the most common way employers decide who gets appointed to a particular role.

When I am working with or speaking with people, they have a tendency to see the whole job interview process as a bit of a lottery.  They will sometimes talk themselves into believing they are no good at job interviews.  They will obsess over one or two things that they are no good at.

What I have found is that there is often some serious misunderstandings about the whole process and even some myths about what it takes to be a serious contender in any job interview.

Whether we like it or not, there are a whole host of variables that impact on the decision who is appointed.

Some of these variables you can influence, while there are others that you can do little or even nothing about.

Take the question of other applicants.  You have no control over who else applies or how well they perform on the day.  You can only influence how you perform.

Similarly when it comes to experience, if there are others who have better experience than you, there is little you can do about that.

Despite saying this, I believe there is an awful lot you can do to make yourself a serious contender in any job interview.

Apply For The Right Roles

I am sure you probably could adapt to any sector or industry and that your skills and experience are transferrable.

The trouble is most of the people doing the interviews don’t see it like that.  They see appointing someone from outside the industry and sector as a big risk.

It may or may not be when it comes to you.

For that reason I discourage people from taking a scatter gun approach and instead encourage them to apply for roles where they are a very good or even excellent fit.

Learn As Much As You Can About The Organisation

In the days before the internet, getting access to information about an organisation was tricky.  This is no longer the case.

A few hours researching the organisation will give you the opportunity make a hugely positive impression in the early stages of the interview.

Learn As Much As You Can About The Sector

It’s hugely beneficial to know about the organisation.  It’s even better if you can speak authoritatively about the industry or sector challenges.

Even better if you can offer some real constructive ideas for addressing the challenges.

Be Able To Answer All The Common Questions Really Well

There are some questions you can almost guarantee will come up in some form or other.

These are the questions that you have to be able to answer confidently and authoritatively.

This includes being able to articulate why you really are the best candidate for the role.

Manage Your Nerves

Everyone is nervous when it comes to job interviews.  You can never eliminate them completely and in truth you probably don’t want to either.

What I have noticed over the years, particularly among professional people, is that the less they prepare the more nervous they are.

Rather than trying to manage nerves, focus on preparing with rigour so that your nerves simply support you in raising your game.

Always Aim To Be In The Final Decision Discussion

There are no guarantees.  What I always say to people is that if you have done yourself justice, you will be in the final discussions when the decision is made.

If you do this you have probably done as much as you can.


Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professional people achieve more career success.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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