The OMG of job interviews and the three things you should avoid…

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve concluded an interview, said goodbye to the candidate and turned to a colleague to say “OMG that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back”.

In the course of a 20 year career, interviewing hundreds of people from interns, to graduates, to senior leaders, I've become so frustrated at the number of well-qualified candidates who present themselves poorly.

And as I thought about it, I realised that many of the mess-ups fall into three common categories: O. M. G.

So let me share with you the three things you should never, never do…

O stands for one-word answers, or two- or three-word answers. Let me give you an example: “So, tell me about a time when you were part of a successful team.” “My university hockey team.” Silence…… I have so many questions running through my head – what was your role in the team, why was it successful, what did you learn? And sure, I can probe to get this information, but now I’m starting to worry that you lack emotional intelligence and situational awareness. If you’re missing opportunities to communicate in an interview then can I trust you to build relationships with my stakeholders?

M stands for meandering. “Tell me about yourself”. Often the response is someone’s complete life history which leads, after 10 minutes, to them pausing, frowning and saying “I’ve forgotten the question – can you repeat it please?” This isn’t story time, this is where you need to spot what the recruiter is after (a summary of your skills and experiences as they relate to the role you’re applying for) and deliver a response which addresses the question clearly and concisely. And the reality is there is a limited amount of time scheduled for your interview: if you only get through two of the hiring manager’s ten questions then you’re going to struggle to impress.

G stands for glorifying achievements – over-exaggerating what you have delivered in the past. Check this one out: “Tell me about your biggest achievement.” Answer: “When I worked at Tesco I increased turnover by 300%.” Really? I’m sure if that were true you’d be working for them right now, probably on the board rather than sitting in front of me. Now maybe there’s some nugget of truth behind it – perhaps you achieved a 300% increase on a particular product promotion, or maybe you were part of a team that did something nationwide. But it sounds jarring and it raises suspicion, which is the opposite of rapport. As the interviewer digs away to find the truth, what might have been a nice example now starts to sound hollow and disingenuous.

I always give feedback, positive or negative to every person I have ever interviewed, and I would routinely start those conversations by asking the candidate how they thought they’d done. Almost every declined candidate thought they'd done OK or well – and most fell down on O, or M, or G.

So make sure the next time you hear OMG from a recruiting manager it’s because you’re the most amazing candidate they’ve seen that day and they can’t wait to hire you!

If this resonates with you and you want this to be the year where you land your ideal role, then look no further. Our Career Coaching coaching packages will take you through a step-by-step approach to:

· understand what roles suit your unique blend of personality, values and skills

· confidently tailor your experiences so that you can answer any interview question that’s thrown at you

· prepare for the day itself so you're confident and perform at your very best

If you want to chat about this further then simply contact me at - I'd love to help you!


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