Will trotted off to his promotion interview feeling confident about his chances. He was pleased with his performance. The recruiters weren’t and the job went to one of the very few colleagues Will detested.
With employment cuts on the way, Will knew he could kiss goodbye to promotion for several years if he wasn’t picked for either of the two senior manager posts his organisation had just advertised. The stakes being so high, Will swallowed his doubts, very reluctantly got out his wallet and booked himself in for one to one job interview training with a career management consultancy.
This career management consultancy uses the real jobs clients are applying for as the basic material for the job interview training. Will found their approach of some comfort – at least he’d get a useful practice interview for his money. His expectations were no higher than that.
The first surprise for Will was just how seriously the consultancy took their own preparation for his job interview training. At their request, Will supplied his completed Application Form for the promotion spot, the Job and Person Specifications and enough of the (non-confidential) information about his employer for the job interview training advisor to work out what the organisation’s main challenges would be over the next few years.
It was disconcertingly clear from the advisor’s coaching and the practice interview questions how much effort she’d put into absorbing this information. Why did the advisor need to know so much about his employer’s concerns Will asked himself. All Will wanted was to improve his interview performance – he couldn’t see the link.
As the job interview training progressed, Will slowly began to make the connections. The senior post he wanted required someone who could think strategically about the challenges and opportunities facing his employer. Will had to think at that level (and to show he was doing so) by answering the interviewer’s questions as if he already held the job he was after.
When Will was asked to give an example showing his ability to manage staff, for example, the job interview training encouraged him to talk about the times he’d raised the whole team’s performance to achieve important corporate goals. Will had used a much weaker example during his previous interview (ie his success in managing one very difficult junior). Will learnt he needed to know his own career history and achievements far better than he currently did to impress the interviewers for jobs at the next level up.
Will discovered the advantages of listening much more carefully and analytically to the questions asked. Will was prompted by his job interview training advisor to think about how each question related to the Job Specification and Person Specification – and therefore what kind of answers the interviewer wanted – before he gave any answers during his practice interview. He also learnt to talk about relevant earlier achievements in terms of the results obtained (cost savings, productivity boosts and so on), rather than to explain how he had tacked each project. Will practised keeping eye contact with the interviewer and appearing confident and relaxed without seeming too full of himself.