How To Be Top Of The Short List
We asked recruiters and employers what successful candidates (mid-senior level) did differently at interviews. These are the common factors:
1. They demonstrate that they are in control of their career.
Recruiters want to see that candidates have demonstrated control and ownership of their career path and that their reasons for wanting to join the organisation are based on a clear career strategy. The suggestion is that they are on their way up, not that they are applying for the job because it will pay the bills and is better than nothing!
So, whilst you clearly demonstrate the value you can add to a new employer, (based on previous experience and achievements), you also need to be a little bit selfish and show what's in it for you also. Obviously your own career objectives should dovetail with the organisation's strategic objectives and the objectives of the role. In other words, it's the difference between:
"I am really interested in this job because it's similar to the last HR role I had and I enjoy writing HR policy and procedures"
"I am looking for an opportunity where I can bring the HR policies and procedures I learnt in my last organisation - a public company - to a smaller organisation which would benefit from them. Also, I specifically want to use my employee engagement strategies with a blue collar workforce like this, as I think they would be particularly effective."
2. They acknowledge past mistakes.
Employers want to see that you are flexible, can learn and adapt. Acknowledge how you have learnt from your mistakes. When you describe past achievements, it's good to say what you would do differently next time.
"At the end of the project when we reviewed how each stage had gone, we agreed that we should have stepped in as soon as we realised that the supplier wasn't communicating effectively and confronted their account manager earlier."
That's not admitting a weakness, but demonstrating self-awareness, the ability to learn and to take constructive criticism. Also, that you have learnt on someone else's payroll so can hit the ground running when you join the new employer.
3. They understand the big picture.
It is particularly important for managers to show that they are aware of how their role contributes more broadly to the department/organisation they work in. When describing past successes always try to include a "big" outcome, rather than "just" solving problems or dealing with issues.
"Once I had sorted out the problem with this client I discussed how the issue had happened at our next managers' meeting. Consequently we all included more customer-awareness training with our teams, so we can nip these problems in the bud earlier. Since then, customer satisfaction ratings have increased by 7% in our region, so actually that one difficult client did us all a big favour."
If you need support with interview skills, interview nerves, articulating past successes or defining your career plan, then please contact us for help.