When I was younger, I felt that job interviews were like oral exams, where you were getting the best marks - and if you got the top marks you got the job. I've been working with a number of people who are looking to change jobs and there is one key attitude that makes the difference in an interview.
When I speak to these friends they are often desperate for a job, possibly any job, and willing to drop their seniority and income just to get a job. This is particularly the case as an ex-pat in London, where recruiters don't understand the prestige of universities, quality of courses, and the power of international experience.
The winning attitude is to go to an interview thinking that the goal here is to check if you and the boss and company fit together. It's not specifically about selling yourself but checking if you will meet your purpose and passion there, and the values match yours.
This has three advantages:
- You are more relaxed for the interview. It's not about an exam of getting questions and getting the best marks. It's about testing your connection with them, and letting your experience flow.
- It helps you be more confident to ask the right questions about what exactly will you do, be responsible for, be measured on, and know that you're a success. It helps ask the questions about their values and approach too.
- It gives more resilience both to say no and cope with rejection. It can be hard to say no to a job, but if you're not the right fit for it, there's no point in having the job and being miserable. On the other hand, if they don't think you're the right fit for them, that's ok, you both dodged an expensive recruitment mistake.
With that in mind, the second component of taking the attitude of being the right fit, is to help your recruiter tell the story about why they recruited you.
- So if you are older, you could help them say "I recruited [x], although they're older and more experience with me, I saw we could work as a team because they are more interested in developing the whole team, than their own ambition", or
- If you have come from abroad, you could help them say "I recruited [x], although s/he hasn't got local experience, s/he gives great diversity to the team and an innovative way of thinking from their work in countries like [Y}]"
This is particularly helpful, if you think you might be 'weak' in an area of your resume/cv, because it might actually be a strength. By making it easy in the covering letter or interview to give them the pointers on why they hired you, it makes it easier for them to decide or remember them.
For example, one of my best hires was a guy who didn't have technical skills, but he had organised his university ski trip for 100s of students. He knew planning, delivery, customer service, dealing with problems, partying and budgeting.
So what is the story you want your recruiter or buyer to say about why they took you on, rather than anyone else?