Do You Have the Job Interview X-Factor?

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It is one of the most feared aspects of the job search and career change process. So much so in fact that the prospect of a job interview can put fear into even the most self-confident, articulate and accomplished job seekers. The explanation for this fear lies in the nature of job interviews as a complex performance which you won’t do well in unless you rehearse well. If you haven’t rehearsed however, just with any other performance you may get stage fright.

Everyone that has had a job has probably had a job interview at some stage or another in their career. But do interviews work? Before we talk about what you ought to do to enhance your performance in interviews it is worth asking the question, do interviews actually work. This may seem like a silly question to some as interviews are so common place in the workplace regardless of which industry you work. But the reality is that interviews are not a very good predictor of job performance. If fact, it’s a wonder interviews are still the most common way to hire for a job given that their prediction for on the job success is rated at only 20 to 30 per cent depending on whether or not they are competency based or structured.

In fact, it is because of the subjective and relatively inaccurate nature of job interviews that many employers and companies now also incorporate psychometric testing and assessment procedures into their recruitment process in order to provide a more reliable and objective basis to their hiring decisions. Regardless of this however, the interview remains the key decision-making tool for HR managers and employers.

Let us take a step back for just a moment, though. Before you start to prepare for the job interview, it is important to think about what needs to happen at the interview in order for you to be successful. What is it that the decision makers will want to see and hear from you the interview? Having conducted a great number of interviews, it comes down to three things:

    • Certainty that you fulfill the skills and experience requirements outlined in the job description. Think of this as your technical aptitude.
    • A feeling that your particular personality and work approach will be a good match for the type of team, role and company dynamics. Think of this as your behavioral attitude.
    • Something a bit different, special, authentic or interesting about you and what you may have to offer. Your could think of this as your x factor, which makes you stand out from the other candidates. The first two things are pretty easy to learn.

Here is an excellent technique to make sure you give your interviewers all of the reassurance they require concerning your aptitude and attitude. The x factor is a slightly less prescriptive entity but understand this right and it may well end up being your most effective interview tool.

Do you have the x factor?

  • It could be as simple as offering an insightful observation or understanding of something occurring within your industry,or perhaps the state of the nation.
  • It could be the daring to hold your ground and disagree with what the interviewer says.
  • It could be the humility to admit that you have failed in the past, that you have weaknesses.
  • It could be the courage to say that you are outstanding at what you do.
  • It could be the way in which you explain an odd career history.
  • It could be the ability to smile, to laugh, to relax and have fun at the interview.
  • It could be the nerve to share a joke or a self-deprecating story.
  • It could be the self-confidence to interview the interviewers!
  • It could be the balls to put forward a radical solution to a problem.
  • It could be the honesty to say you don’t know or do not understand.
  • It could be the strength to challenge the status quo.
  • It could be being quirky or witty.
  • It could be showing a real passion and enthusiasm for your work.

In a nutshell, it comes down to being comfortable in your own skin, someone who knows their mind and is genuine and authentic in their efforts. You may find it difficult to believe, but a lot of interviews lack any type of life or personality. They can be staged, uninteresting and predictable, so when you have someone before you who is not afraid to show that x factor, the impact is even more powerful than you can imagine. Obviously, the x factor is only going to work when you have satisfied the criteria on the other two elements (attitude and aptitude). However, there is no doubt that it is a bonus that may firmly swing the pendulum in your favor.

Another think you need to consider is whether you get on with your organization and will you fit into the new role? In my opinion, for most jobs, your behavioral fit more often than not carries more weight than your technical expertise. Your fit refers to the level of compatibility that exists between you, your target role and your organization, and much of your satisfaction and fulfillment has its source here. Your fit is dependent up:

  • Company culture
  • Team dynamics
  • Management ethos
  • Scope of your role.

The reality is that someone with less technical expertise but a stronger behavioral fit for that team or company is more likely to be offered a second interview.

Why is this? Because technical skills are often easily learned, whereas personality and behaviors are definitely more difficult to change or acquire. And if you throw a bit of ‘x factor’ into the equation, then you’re on to a winner.

Responding to a research survey of top personnel executives, the following were the most influential factors in their decision to hire. The list is ranked with the most important first:

  1. Personality – how you present yourself through the interview
  2. Experience
  3. The qualifications you have for the position you are being interviewed for
  4. Background and references
  5. The enthusiasm you show towards the organization and the job
  6. Your educational and technical background
  7. Your potential growth in the job
  8. Your compatibility (i.e. ability to get along with co-workers)
  9. Your intelligence and capacity to learn
  10. How hard a worker you appear to be. Select for attitude – train for aptitude

So make life easy for your interviewer. The harder you work to prepare for the interview, the easier you make things for the interviewer, and this is a good thing. Interviewing can be tiring and somewhat tedious – so imagine for a moment what it’s like to sit in a room and ask the same questions of a procession of people all. Employers may be increasingly utilizing psychometric tests as part of their overall recruitment process but job interviews will remain still central to the recruitment process in almost all organizations. For this reason it is critical that you are able to interview effectively in order to get the job or career you want. If you follow the tips and advice above going into your next job interview you will be in a great position to maximize your chance of success.