5 Ways to Keep Your Interviewer Awake

Let’s face it, you are going to be in that interview room for at least 45 minutes


Let’s face it, you are going to be in that interview room for at least 45 minutes.

If things go really badly, a few interviewers will call a halt to proceedings early, but many will stay in for the duration regardless as it may reflect badly on them with their superiors. As the interviewee, just because you are in a room with an interviewer it doesn’t mean that they will be digesting what you are saying to them. You have to get them to switch on their receive button, and although they want to get to know you, sometimes they can lose interest for the simplest of reasons. Once their interest has waned, it is incredibly hard to recover. These people hold your fate in their index fingers...

You literally have to try to keep your interviewer awake!

During my 13+ years as a recruiter, the following has stood out from both personal experience and feedback from clients as my five top snooze-inducing behaviours. Guard against doing these things, no matter what the circumstances and you may find your next interview has a significantly better outcome.

1.  Do Your Research
So many people fail at interviews because quite simply they have failed to research the company they are interviewing with.  Research is a quick-win area in an interview scenario where you can get a head-start over those competing for the same position as you.  Don't just rely on the about us section of a corporate website. Go further.  Check out the interviewers' profile in LinkedIn - what is their background or what are their interests?  Is there any common ground?  What were the company financial results?  What was the last news-worthy item reported on about the company?  Research demonstrates passion, commitment and tenacity.

2.  Don’t be a politician.
This is an important point, and one that is lost on many interviewees. An interview is not a game of chess – the more easily the opinions flow, the more you are both likely to learn about each other. You can’t get into the head of someone that you have just met – do your best to answer their questions and don’t force your agenda on them. You never know where their agenda may lead, and you have to let them guide the interview (while showing yourself in the best light, of course).  Trying to answer questions using your own agenda could lead you into the trap of waffling or confusing the interviewer.  Stay on point and always give relevant, recent and professional examples to their questions.

3.  Tell Stories, but avoid Waffling
Interviewers need to be transported into your story, they need to go on a journey through your career for the duration of the interview, and the only way to do that is to tell them a few stories. They will empathise with the emotion, you will present a 3D version of how you go about things, and they will remember what you did that little bit better. If your stories are memorable, you will be the standout candidate, and you are giving the recruiter vital ammunition to tell their clients. However, and here is the rub.  Do not let your stories become "waffle".  Ensure stories or examples you provide are relevant to the subject matter or question given by the interviewer.  Do not move off on a tangent or you will not only lose valuable interview time to impress, but it is very likely you will also lose the interest of the interviewer.

4.  Sit there like a rabbit in the headlights. 
There is no reason why you should be petrified, but if you sit there like the sky is going to fall, you are hardly going to inspire confidence in your listener. 70% of your message is communicated through your body language, and the signals of someone who is simply scared or shiveringly nervous are unmistakable. If you treat the interview as an exploratory chat to find out if there is a common interest, and not an interrogation, it won’t feel quite so scary.

5.  Think that you know better than they do.  Don't, Patronise, engage.
No one likes to be patronised and talked down to. Just because a recruiter hasn’t worked in the industry or perhaps does not have the technical expertise to do the job you are personally interviewing for, it doesn’t mean that they don’t possess an intimate understanding of how things work. Their job is to dig deep into the brightest minds of the industry, and the insights that they receive are priceless. Talk to them like an equal or they will switch off immediately.  Patronise your interviewer at your peril.  Respect them, ask them questions about the business and the culture and why they think it is a great company to work for and you will engage them to your advantage.

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