Job interviews are still the most common way of deciding who to appoint to a role.
From both a candidate and employer perspective they are strange meetings.
Both are trying to portray themselves and in the case of the employer their organisation in the best light.
And of course the stakes are high for the person making the decision on who to appoint.
If you have spent a lot of time getting ready for a job interview and then don’t get the job it can be a huge disappointment.
I first started interviewing people for jobs almost 25 years ago.
In truth people don’t get the job for a whole host of reasons including the following.
Nerves get the better of them
I’ve seen people break out in sweats, push their spectacles so that they are sitting at an angle, freeze and be unable to answer the most basic questions.
You will be nervous but you need to learn to manage those nerves and use them to raise your performance rather than being a barrier to your performance.
Being negative about your previous employer or boss
You might be moving on because you’re disillusioned with your current employer or have lost respect for your boss.
But you never want to say that.
If this is the case talk about the need for a new challenge.
It amazes me when people are going for a job in accounting and they can’t tell me anything about the financial performance of the company they are interviewing with.
What kind of impression does that give of you?
Similarly you can expect a question about the organisation and perhaps even the sector that they operate in and should be ready with a good answer.
Being too generic when talking about strengths
Every employer is looking for certain skills, experience, knowledge and qualities.
Your job is to figure out what they are and then talk about them when talking about your strengths.
Not being able to talk in detail about achievements
A good CV will highlight achievements.
In the interview you need to be able to tell the story behind the achievements. The skills you used, the barriers you encountered and how you overcame them.
Talking about weaknesses in the wrong way
Say you have no weaknesses and it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get the job.
It demonstrates that you lack any self awareness.
The way round this is to look at areas which can be seen as either a strength or a weakness from the perspective of the employer.
Another way of tackling this is to talk about areas you are actively working to improve and why.
In truth the job interview can be a bit of a lottery. On the other hand there are some pitfalls that you can easily avoid with a bit of preparation.
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.