The last time you had a big interview, did it feel as if you were being measured and assessed? Did you wonder whether you’d left your prospective employer with a strong enough sense of how experienced, capable and engaging you came across in your answers?
I often get asked to coach people for big, life-changing interviews and I thought I’d share the number one mistake candidates make, as well as what you can do to transform the experience to your advantage.
Instead of obsessing about what the interviewer will think of you, shift the spotlight away from your own neuroses onto how the person you’re talking to feels about themselves while you are in the room.
Shine The Spotlight On Your Host
On chat-show interviews with celebrities or news-makers, it’s all about the answers. It’s all about the star on the couch. No one cares much about the interviewer. If you are a star-creative, star-performer, CEO, artist or other best-in-class rain-maker, go ahead and ignore the interviewer and continue to make every interview all about you. If you are the one and only candidate, the interviewer will be 100% focused on luring you. That you may appear to be an egomaniac will probably not lose you the gig. Most likely, it’s what they expect, from a star.
For everyone else: You are not being interviewed for a role as a star performer. You are being interviewed as a future member of a team. Far from being more important (or more interesting) than the person interviewing you, chances are, if you are successful you will end up working alongside them or more likely reporting to them.
Of course you need to show that you’re the best candidate, but if you’ve been selected for an interview, they already believe you’re capable. They know you have the right skills and abilities. They’ve gone through your CV. They know your experience. You wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have a good sense that you could probably do the job. No, they’re interviewing you to see if you’re a good fit for the team; to get a taste of what it might be like to actually have you in their face every day.
This is the number one mistake I see people making in important interviews: They make it all about them. They talk way too much. They assume that the person interviewing them wants to hire someone who is brilliantly successful, accomplished and confident.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
The person interviewing you does not want to hire an egomaniac who sucks the oxygen from the room with a non-stop narcissistic rant. They want to hire someone who makes them, the boss or the rest of the team feel brilliantly successful accomplished and supported every single day. If you can’t even manage to make them feel this for half an hour, you haven’t got a chance.
So, instead of obsessing about what the interviewer will think of you, shift the spotlight away from your own neuroses onto how the person you’re talking to feels about themselves while you are with them.
We all like to be around people who give us space to shine. If the person interviewing you feels perceptibly smarter, more accomplished and dynamic when you are with them there is a strong chance that this is an experience they will be keen to repeat. In all likelihood, they won’t want you out of their sight for long.
If you can, research the person who will be interviewing you as though they, not you, were the star guest and you are interviewing them. You want to astound them with how much you know about every aspect of their professional life. If you can’t research your interviewer, forensically study the company’s founders or CEO. Stun your interviewer by how well you know the company.
Ask Well Considered Questions
Prepare at least three questions that demonstrate your understanding of who the interviewer is (their role and responsibilities) and allow them to shine as an expert about their company. Never ask a question to which you and the interviewer do not already know the answer.
Switch The Tables
Instead of trying to show how well suited you are to working for the company (an approach which could leave you seeming egocentric) show how all the research you have done makes you uniquely appreciate what an honor it would be for you to build your career with them. Remember, you are looking to join an existing team, not have them want to join you!
Mirror The Interviewer’s Body Language and Listen
Your job in the interview is to appreciate uniquely. Ultimately, it’s not about them thinking you are a star, or even an expert. It’s about them feeling stronger, better and more valued when YOU are in their company.
Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. Before training as coach, he launched a TV Production company which created dozens of ground breaking, TV shows.