What 3 ingredients do you need to consider when preparing for a job interview?
There are three ingredients you need to consider when you are preparing for any type of interview and any interview question. It can be overwhelming when you’re preparing for an interview and you’re trying to predict the questions that will be asked.
Most candidates will say to themselves, what shall I share, what do I talk about? When there’s a better question to ask yourself; “What information do hiring managers need to make a decision I’m the right candidate for the job?” Read that question again.
You have some of the answers, in the job advert and job description. You will have done your research on the company too. Then you match your experience, knowledge, and skills to this information.
Purpose of the interview
Consider the purpose of the interview from the hiring manager’s point of view. It’ll make it a lot clearer what information you need to share.
The purpose of an interview is to assess whether you can do the job. It’s to assess whether you fit with the team and company culture. And, lastly, assess your motivational fit and check if you are genuinely interested in the job and the company.
- Job Fit = Can you do the job?
- Company Culture Fit = Do you fit in?
- Motivational Fit = Are you willing to do the job?
Hiring managers need to gather information in all three categories to be in with a chance of making the right decision.
Chiltern CIPD Talk
A big thank you to Tara for inviting me to talk at the Chiltern CIPD HR Job Seekers networking event on 21st July 2021. It was a privilege to share insights from decades of experience in the recruitment industry. Tara and I worked together at Pitney Bowes, and had the opportunity to share real-life examples, and tell stories!
If you’d like me to speak at your event, please contact me at mailto:email@example.com
Discover the 3 ‘Magic’ Ingredients to succeed at any type of interview and any question!
Do you remember learning about the Fire Triangle at primary school? There were three elements that have to exist for there to be fire. Oxygen, Fuel, and Heat. Take one of these elements away, and you will not have any fire. It’s science.
It’s similar (not the same) to making hiring decisions. You need all three ingredients to make a good hiring decision. Take one of these ‘ingredients’ away and it’s less likely you’ll be offered the job.
Job Fit (Competence)
A candidate needs to be able to demonstrate they can do the job. However, it’s not always necessary that the candidate is able to do all the job. I’ll explain later.
- Training certificates
- Skills (Behavioural and technical competencies)
There are no random questions during an interview. Every interview question is gathering information to decide about your job fit.
This all sounds really obvious, doesn’t it? Of course, the candidate needs to be able to do the job. However, what some candidates don’t do is highlight the match to the job by talking about their experiences.
It’s not always necessary to hire a candidate who matches all the criteria either. That’s another assumption people make about the hiring process. In fact, it’s good to have a learning curve or new tasks or projects that provide a candidate with some challenge and growth.
Consider these two scenarios:
Candidates that don’t have enough experience, miss the opportunity to talk about their transferrable skills.
And, candidates that have more than is required for the job, miss the opportunity to talk about their experience that matches the job.
No Job Experience?
Job fit doesn’t necessarily mean having direct experience. You can have the behaviours to do a job without having the experience.
Here’s an example; If an employer is advertising for an office administrator, no experience necessary.
Interviewers will still want to gather and understand if a candidate has the potential to do the job. In this example, the interviewers would look for someone who can demonstrate planning and organizing skills, is able to prioritize, can meet deadlines, and work methodically.
Therefore, the candidates don’t have to have office experience, but they will need to be able to show they have transferable skills. These candidates can satisfy the Job Fit element of the hire triangle.
Overqualified or Too Senior?
Have you ever been told you are too senior for the role or overqualified? This is where candidates can get it wrong. If a candidate recognizes they have more than is required for the advertised job, they tend to ‘sell’ the other experience and knowledge they can offer.
Think about it. The hiring managers have spent a long time designing the job role to fit the needs of the business. They have designed the job around the others in the team. They’ve spent time accurately describing what’s required to be successful in the role.
What ‘overqualified’ candidates tend to do, is ignore the job requirements (the requirements the hiring managers spent lots of time crafting!) and talk about all the other things (not necessarily on the job description). Can you see how this might not work for every business?
Let me share a story with you.
You’ve been invited to your friend’s wedding. It’s your best friend. The wedding is in the summer months. You have to buy a new outfit. You’ve thought carefully about this outfit, the colour, the detail, the neckline, the sleeves, the length, and the material, etc. You would like to wear something classic that compliments your friend’s dress but you don’t want your outfit to distract the attention from the bride.
After thinking and planning very carefully, you venture out to the shops! The shop assistant says, don’t worry about that list of criteria, let me show you what we have in the store. They bring out a long, dark velvet number. No! That’s not right for a summer wedding. They bring you a stripy short dress! No! That’s not right for my best friend’s wedding.
Going into an interview assuming all the additional experience and knowledge will benefit the company (without checking first) is setting yourself up to fail.
Focus on the experience, knowledge, and skills that actually match the advertised job first. You can, of course, talk about how your other experiences, knowledge, skills might be of benefit later in the hiring process.
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Company Cultural Fit (Chemistry)
Do you understand what company cultural fit actually means and do you understand how to demonstrate it? The cultural fit is all about how your values, beliefs, and ways of working are aligned with the business.
Company culture is ‘how we do things around here’.
Consider the different types of businesses out there from Google to Facebook, from Costa to Greggs, from Airbnb to Hilton Hotel, etc. All have their own unique brand and company culture and what you need to demonstrate is you are the right fit.
We appreciate that company culture is incredibly complex in nature. Every organization has its own unique set of values, characteristics, behaviours, attitudes, and so on.
How would you describe your workplace?
- Is it a dynamic and highly competitive organization?
- Is it very formal and bureaucratic, driven by rules and regulations?
- Do people work hard play hard – are they results-driven and is it a high-performing environment?
- Do people work in teams and work collaboratively?
- Is the organization concerned with accuracy and attention to detail?
- Do the people in the organization value innovation and quality?
Once you understand the characteristics and values of the organization, you are in a much better place to be able to decide and demonstrate you are the right fit.
Motivational Fit (Commitment)
Motivational fit is all about your commitment to your career choice. It’s assessing your career aspirations and goals.
When you apply for a new job in a different company, the interviewers want to know if they can satisfy your career goals and whether they can offer progression or promotion in the future.
You can meet the job fit and share the values of the company however, if you don’t demonstrate this is the job for you and fits with your career direction then it’s likely you won’t get a job offer.
Do you have to be bouncing off the walls to demonstrate motivation?
People think being motivated means bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm. That’s not necessarily true. It’s about communicating and presenting a genuine interest and passion for your discipline, subject, sector, and/or industry.
If you are an accountant and you can explain the reasons for selecting that career choice and the reasons why you love what you do, then you don’t have to be animated about it.
Your love and passion for your job should match the energy of that career choice. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert it aligns with the career choices.
Now you have all the information you need to prepare effectively for any type of interview and any interview question. All these three ingredients need to be threaded through your answers.
It’s doesn’t have to be an equal measure of these three ingredients. Depending on the question, you might want to share more about the Job Fit, or Motivational Fit.
Good recruiters will be gathering this information throughout the interview, so it’s worth considering the mix and blend.
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