Don’t Like Talking About Yourself?


Job interviews are often viewed with extreme negativity for many, and one key reason is a lack of comfort when it comes to talking about ourselves. To be successful, we have to come across as the very best applicant interviewed, and being the best means we did the best job at selling ourselves. Ironically, it’s this very idea of being not just really good but actually better than everyone else that most people can’t come to grips with.

I mean it’s just not in most people’s nature to believe we’re better than all the other’s we’re up against; not just for a job, but well, for anything. There’s great inner conflict you see, when we go about our lives with humility, believing that being our personal best is what we should strive for, rather than being better than all those around us. Then suddenly we walk into a job interview and we’re supposed to turn on some switch that transforms us into extolling ourselves as the best choice to hire; better than all the competition; the one, the only, the obvious choice. Then once we’re hired, feeling we’re better than all the nice people we’re to work with is going to be frowned on? Odd looking at things this way.

It’s not surprising as I’ve laid it out that many have this loathing of the interview process. It starts the moment you sit down and they ask if you wouldn’t mind just telling them a little about yourself. Right off the bat, there you are, expected to talk about yourself, emphasizing your strengths, highlighting your education, showcasing your experience, lauding your accomplishments; all in an effort to impress. But impressing people isn’t how you go about your daily living.

One person I had a conversation with not long ago told me that when they were asked the question, “Why are you the best person; the one I should hire?”, they had great conflict because they couldn’t be sure they were the best person. Without knowing who they were up against, they really didn’t know, Then they went further and said that there probably was at least one person who would be better in the job then they were. Who’s to say without meeting them?

Now as an Employment Counsellor I would hope you always come across as the best applicant to hire. This interview process is after all the employer’s opportunity to meet future potential employees and select from those expressing interest the one or one’s who will best contribute to the organization’s needs. That being said, I do understand this nervousness and great lack of comfort in what many see as bragging about one’s abilities.

As I’ve said many times before, so many influential people in our lives – in YOUR life – have sent you the clear message that bragging isn’t a very attractive quality. Parents, Teachers, characters in movies we felt drawn to and admired, all gave us the message over and over that we shouldn’t think of ourselves as better than others. These people, in positions of influence and authority kept giving us the same message so often we imbedded it, and so we act accordingly as we go about our lives. Funny then that Teachers gave us tests and told us who got the highest mark, those same movie characters were played by actors or actresses who came across the best at auditions, and even our parents likely told us we were, “simply the best little boy or girl.”

A question for you: would you feel comfortable telling someone about the excellent qualities you find in a co-worker or best friend? Likely you would. It stands to reason then that your co-workers and friends if asked, would also be comfortable telling an interviewer about your own good qualities and accomplishments. They might say how well you carry yourself, how you show up every day with a positive attitude and you’re always punctual. They’d likely be happy to say you’re trustworthy, dependable, good at what you do and well-liked by the customers who appreciate your service. Would you agree so far? Good.

Okay, with it settled that others around you would speak favourably about you just as you would speak favourably of them, let’s go back to the interview and the idea of presenting yourself. When asked why you’re the best, or even the question that typically starts the whole interview; the dreaded, “Tell me about yourself”, breathe, smile and begin. Begin with these words…

“Sure I’m happy to tell you about myself. My co-workers appreciate my positive attitude and willingness to lend a hand whenever asked. My supervisor has noted my ability to manage multiple tasks well, and customers often compliment me on my excellent service.”

Not once in the above are you actually speaking about yourself or bragging. You’re simply sharing what other’s have appreciated about your work habits and the results you achieve. The co-workers speak to your positive attitude, the boss to your multi-tasking and the customers to your service. While it’s all about you, there’s no, ‘me talking about me’ in there.

While you don’t know who you’re up against, you do know what you’re up against – it’s you and this opportunity. If you didn’t want it, you wouldn’t choose to be there. As you are there, it logically follows you want it enough, and want to be chosen. That means you do want to be seen as the best.

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Awkward Or Weak First Impression? Relax!


Are you an Employment or Job Coach? At some point you’ve likely said to those you’re supporting, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” If you’re in the regular practice of saying this to those you help, please stop. You’re unknowingly doing more harm than good; much more harm. I grant your intentions are nothing but well-intended, but your words have the potential to have dire consequences; you’re setting those you work with up to fail.

I used to buy in to the extreme importance of making an excellent first impression myself, whether it was at a job interview or starting a new job with a lot of people to meet and get to know. Like you, my intentions were always good. So I’d pass along the typical advice for making a good impression. Have a firm but not overpowering handshake, make direct eye contact, smile, be aware of your body language, etc. Like I’ve said, all well-intended and pretty standard advice.

Those I work with confess to being nervous when I’m coaching them for some upcoming meeting. Typically it’s a job interview or meeting someone who they believe might be in a position to advance their employment possibilities. They may be quite comfortable and self-assured in many situations, but as the butterflies in their stomachs begin to take flight seconds before and into a first meeting, so too in many cases does their growing anxiety. And in 2019, a LOT of people have anxiety, so it’s incumbent on us to respond to this.

All it takes is a slight stumble in that first meeting; a pregnant pause in replying to a question they’ve been asked, sweating excessively, arriving 2 minutes later than planned for, incorrectly pronouncing the name of the interviewer and feeling an overcoming urge to apologize; it’s then that it hits them. They suddenly remember the wise advice you gave them as you sent them off brimming with confidence; “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So what are they now thinking? “Ah great! What’s the point of even continuing then? I’ve already blown it! I might as well just apologize for wasting their time and try better somewhere else.”

The thing is, you aren’t there to help ground them, tell them they can re-group and still save the interview. If you were a fly on the wall and you had the power to freeze time, you could stop the moment you picked up on their facial expression that they are in distress and you could coach them through this momentary attack of low self-confidence, then unfreeze time and they’d perform better. But you lack these special powers and you’re not there. You can’t see what those you help actually look like, you can’t observe first-hand their performance, and so all you have to go on when you assess how things went and how to improve is their own recollection of events. And, surprisingly, this person you’re helping who was actually there, may be not all that aware of how things went wrong and how they looked, because their mind was on performing well.

Take heart though. I’m offering up something I feel is a better message to send that they may find far more helpful. It’s the last impression rather than the first, that is the most significant. The way I see and understand things now is that the first impression covers the first 30 seconds or so of an encounter. A face-to-face meeting or interview may go anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, and so there’s all that time beyond the first 30 seconds to either confirm or change that first impression.

Now I’m not suggesting we dismiss the value of first impressions. No, I still extol the importance of making as good a first impression as possible. However, it’s the last impression people remember more. You know the saying, “What have you done for me lately”? It means that although you may have performed well in the past (possibly an early or first impression), it’s recent performance that matters more at this moment, (the lasting impression).

This advice gives a person reason to hope when things don’t get off to a perfect start. There’s lots of time to ‘save’ a first meeting. In fact, actually saying, “Gee I’m sorry, let me start again” may be the reboot someone needs to launch an answer with confidence instead of bumbling along and fretting over a miscue. If the whole point of a job interview is to market oneself to the needs of an employer, you unknowingly put a massive amount of pressure on those you support when you send the message that those first 30 seconds will make or break the opportunity.

So instead of rehearsing some elevator pitch to the extreme, what will they say to leave a lasting, positive impression? Based on what they heard as they listened, what opportunity can they pick up on and what will they say that shows enthusiasm for wanting to be a part of the solution?

First impressions are important but the last impression is more important as the final impression is entire summation of the time together. If it started well, excellent; keep it going. However if it started awkwardly, relax, breathe deeply and concentrate on the remaining time together rather than worrying about how things started, which is beyond your control.

 

Being Denied An Interview Stings Yes, But…


You find a job you’re interested in and so you apply. The degree of effort you put into your application is likely related to how much you really want it; minimal effort for a job you’d do but doesn’t fire you with enthusiasm, putting in  the maximum effort for a job that feeds your passion. Time goes by, and you realize no interview is coming; you’ve been passed over.

Now, depending on how much you wanted that job, you’ll feel anything from mild disappointment to heartbreak. When you’ve failed to get an interview for a job you didn’t really want very much in the first place, it’s easy to rationalize things and put it down to your minimal effort. “I didn’t really want it bad anyhow, so it’s a good thing actually that I didn’t get an interview.” By the way, I’ve seen people actually land interviews for jobs they only half-heartedly applied for and then they’ve dithered over whether they should actually go or not; not wanting to waste both their time and the time of those interviewing.

Today though, I want to focus on the job interviews you really wanted but didn’t get. Why does that sting so much? And make no mistake, it does hit hard.

So, there’s a few reasons we need to acknowledge and understand. First of all, you likely put a lot of effort into your application. Researching the job itself, the organization, the people themselves who work there and how they contribute to the overall culture. There’s the job itself of course, and the more you know about the position and the organization, the more you can visualize yourself working there. The interview denial comes as a blow because what it represented was validation. Validation of your credentials; skills, education, competency, experience and ability to do the job.

Like any rejection, the more you wanted it, the harder is it to take. Some will see this rejection as a brick wall standing between themselves and a position they really wanted. These folks will turn away from the desired position with the organization and head off in another direction. However, there are other applicants that will regroup and launch themselves back at the organization in the future with a subsequent application. These folks are either blind to rejection or persistent and tenacious; believing that this one rejection was nothing more than a setback, a hiccup in their pursuit of what they’ll eventually succeed at obtaining.

Of course, rejection is hard to take and extremely frustrating. Many of the people I partner with are so frustrated with the effort they put in and the negligible results they obtain that this becomes their biggest factor in contacting me for support and guidance. “What am I doing wrong?”, is the most common question they start with in our first meeting.

One thing to consider I would like to point out is that there are times when being rejected and not getting an interview could be the best thing that happens to you. When you don’t get an interview, get past the disappointment and look at things as objectively as you can. Ask yourself if perhaps you didn’t just dodge a bullet. Had you got the interview and landed the job, would it have been a job which fulfilled 3 core factors; 1) You’d do well, 2) It would pay well and most importantly 3) you’d love?

I’ve had times in my own life where I applied to a job I believed at the time I could do and enjoy only to fail at getting an interview. At the time, I can remember feeling disappointed as I’d read a letter stating how unfortunate it was but they’d decided to move ahead with more qualified applicants. If memory serves, they’d wish me well and that was that. While this particular memory was years ago, it turned out to be a tremendous blessing. Had I got an interview and won the competition, my career would have taken a different path and my career as an Employment Counsellor been inevitably delayed or never have happened at all.

Job interview rejection stings precisely because we take it as a personal rejection of ourselves. Being interested in a job and applying for it, we’re offering ourselves up for some assessment of our ability to fit with both the job and a company. When we get denied, we can’t but help see it as a personal rejection for who we are as a person. This is not actually the case of course. From the employer’s perspective, the pool of applicants is bigger than at any time in history. Among the applicants there will be a greater number who meet their desired needs and therefore choosing whom to interview gives them a greater number as well. This means there are others who are equally qualified for whom an interview is not forthcoming, there just isn’t time to interview everyone.

You might be tired and frustrated at hearing little more from an employer other than there were many qualified applicants and you weren’t chosen. I mean, how can you improve on your future applications without some further direction? The truth could simply a numbers game. They want to interview 3 or 4 people as this is all their time and needs allow, and once they have these qualified applicants, they reject the rest. Interviewing the 22 others who really wanted it bad, from the 175 that applied isn’t in the best interests of the organization. No fault on your part.

 

Tired Of Finishing Second?


While some of you are trying to figure out why you aren’t landing job interviews, there’s other folks who can’t figure out where they are going wrong who not only get interviews, but apparently perform really well. Not only are they getting short-listed and interviewed, they perform well enough to have second and third interviews. All these interviews boost their confidence, have them thinking they are so close to landing a position and then, again and again they get informed that the job has been offered to and accepted by another candidate.

The enthusiasm required for a sustained job search is indeed bolstered by initial success, but when the job offer is just beyond one’s fingertips and gets snatched away, it’s a tough experience to go through. Now repeat that several times over a period of six months to a year and you begin to sense how frustrating that must be for the people concerned. To add to this frustration, not only are they not getting hired, but when following up with employers to get feedback, it’s hard to hear that they think the candidate performed really well and there’s no tangible piece of advice they can pass back to improve on future interviews.

In other words, in attempting to figure out how to improve or where they are falling short, they get nothing to work on, nothing to adjust. So if they can’t figure out where they are going wrong, the feeling arises that they are likely doomed to repeat the experience. They’ll fall short again and again because they’ll go on acting as they’ve always acted, saying what they’ve always said, and hoping for a different outcome.

It’s not like they want to hear about some fatal flaw in their approach, but at the same time, they’d actually rather have someone find something to address rather than hear a sympathetic, “You did great. Don’t change a thing.” Sure it’s affirming and validates all the effort they put in to perform at their best, but the end result is the same, no job offer.

For a moment, let’s de-personalize the application process. Instead of talking about you specifically, let’s look at a reality. In any competition; for a job, a race, a trophy etc., there has to be a number of entrants for it to truly be a competition. The bigger the prize, the stronger the competition. Each individual or team competing trains and competes to the best of their ability and in the end, wants to feel they’ve given it their best shot. Some know they are longshots to win and others feel they’ve got a legitimate chance of winning it all, seeing themselves as a favourite to win. The one thing all of the competitors know without a doubt though is that there can only be one winner. The longshots who finish eighth often cite pride in doing their best and acknowledge that those who finished first and second are just that much better; they are at a different level of compete. The second place finisher? For them it stings. They were so close they could taste it. Next time around they vow to get hungrier, so they work harder, they make adjustments, but they also acknowledge they did their best, they just came up short to a competitor who on that day, performed better.

The competition for a job is much the same. You know when you apply that there will be others doing likewise. A reality is there’s one job to be had and therefore there’s going to be one successful candidate and everyone else who will fall short. This is a reality you have to accept when choosing to apply. Your job is to position yourself so you come across as the best candidate. What’s meant by, ‘best’, is responding to the needs of the employer. If you succeed in addressing all their needs, (this you can control), it’s going to come down to their preferences in the intangibles, (this you can’t control).

In other words, there isn’t a shortcoming in you. You are doing nothing wrong. There’s nothing to fix, there’s nothing to change in your performance. You did the best you could, you stayed authentic and genuine in your delivery and represented yourself to the very best of your abilities. In the end, they made their choice and this is their prerogative. It stings absolutely. If you still want it bad, let them know. Those hired don’t always work out, or new needs arise and you might be considered a month or two after this disappointment.

But all competitor’s for a race or a trophy have one thing you may not have; a Coach. Someone who they listen to, take advice from, someone who will give them honest feedback and push them to find that elusive next level of compete.

So who’s your Coach? Excellent advice is to find someone you can establish some chemistry with. It’s no guarantee, but perhaps they can indeed give you some single piece of advice to consider that in the end makes a difference. Whereas an employer might not feel comfortable sharing how to improve, a professional Coach, someone experienced and with a track record of partnering successfully with others will. I’m not talking about your girlfriend or sister’s friend here, I’m talking about a professional Employment Coach.

It’s not the answer for everyone, but it just might be the answer for you.

 

Why Would I Want A Mock Interview?


I can just imagine many of you reading today’s blog about the benefits of a mock interview. You of whom I envision are thinking to yourselves, “I don’t like interviews, they’re so stressful! So why, when I don’t like them in the first place, would I voluntarily want to do more interviews? Especially when they aren’t even real! No thanks; interviews are painful, nerve-wracking and overall a negative experience to be avoided as much a possible. So a mock interview? No thank you!”

That’s a pretty strong reaction, but for many I’ve met over the years, it accurately sums up their feelings. They see choosing to ask for a mock interview like asking to have a root canal when there’s no need for one – just to be ready for the real thing if/when needed. Yep, a big NO.

The unfortunate reality of those who avoid the mock or practice interview is this: without practice, there’s no opportunity to get feedback and improve on their performance, so the outcome is performing poorly in the real thing. Poor interview performance of course leads to one thing; an unsuccessful outcome and having therefore to apply for more jobs and go to more interviews. Yet somehow, it seems preferable to some people to avoid all the research, practice, feedback, adjustments to delivery and just wing it. Not to sound trite but I ask you, “How’s that working out?”

Now there’s three possible outcomes you can arrive at when you typically go about interviewing by just winging it.

  • You succeed and get a job offer
  • You fail and keep on going about things the same way
  • You fail and decide to get help and improve your odds of success

It’s that first one; that belief that despite the odds, you could succeed without ever having to go through practice interviews, that keeps people from seeking out help. It’s very much like a lottery; the odds are heavily stacked against you succeeding if you interview poorly, but there is that slim chance of success and you’ll hang on to that if it means avoiding practice interviewing. The irony is that the people who avoid mock interviews are typically the ones who could benefit the most.

So what goes on in a mock interview? Let me just say to be clear here, I’m not talking about a couple of questions you give your partner or close friend to ask here. The problem with these willing and well-intentioned people taking you through the mock interview is their reluctance to point out areas to improve because of your potential negative and volatile reaction to their feedback. And if we’re honest, you’re likely to dismiss what you don’t want to hear anyhow and tell them they don’t know what they are talking about because they aren’t an expert!

If the mock interview with friends or family works for you however, great. It’s a start and who knows, they might just observe and hit on some things that turn the experience around, helping you land that job offer. If so, well done everyone!

However, if you really want to maximize your odds of success, it’s good advice to seek out the support and feedback from a professional. Employment Coaches, Employment Counsellors and others who provide job search coaching are the people you’re after here. Many of these people can be contracted with at no charge through community social service organizations. If you’ve got the desire and the funds, you can also contract with a professional privately too.

Now, some of you I’m sure are raising the argument that if you’re out of work already and funds are tight, why on earth would you lay out your money and pay someone to put you through the mock interview? The answer of course is one you instinctively know already; if it increases your odds of success and getting offered a job, that’s money well spent. But I don’t want to appear to be just writing an ad for buying services people like me provide.

So what would a mock interview look like? Well, depending on the person you’re getting help from, it could look like this:

You meet and discuss how you’ve prepared in the past. Maybe a couple of questions get tossed out just to determine what you’ve been saying to date. From these, a baseline is established. An Employment Counsellor / Job Coach will provide feedback on:

  •  First Impressions (Clothing, Body Language, Handshake, Hygiene, Posture, Tone of   Voice, Eye Contact)
  •  Answers (Quality, Length, Sticking To A Format Or Winging It, Are You Answering The Questions? Using Examples?)
  •  Suggestions For Improvement (Some Quick Improvements and Some Longer To Master)
  •  Final Impressions (Ideas On How To Wrap Up The Interview On A Positive)

Now of course this doesn’t include how to prepare for and follow up on your interviews; both of which are extremely important and both of which you’d get a lot of help with from a professional.

Interviewing methods evolve over time and how you may have succeeded in the past could no longer be working. I suppose the real question here is whether or not you are performing well enough in your job interviews to land job offers. If you’re getting a high percentage of interviews for those you apply to, and if those same interviews are resulting in job offers, you don’t need help.

If on the other hand, you seldom get interviews at all, and the ones you do get don’t result in job offers, do yourself a favour and think seriously about getting help – and that includes mock interviews and feedback.

 

 

 

 

From Their Side Of The Interview


Let me just say right off the top, if you’ve got a job interview in your future and you really want the interview to conclude with a job offer, please do yourself a huge favour and meet with a professional who can evaluate and improve your interview skills. Just because you’re currently working doesn’t mean you will perform well in the interview.

Not only will you improve your own skills in interviews, you’ll make the interview process so much more enjoyable for the interviewers sitting across from you. Nothing is worse for an interviewer than realizing in the first question or two that the applicant before them is ill-prepared.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently who was shared their experience interviewing job applicants. I’ve included for you here some of the observations shared with me.

One applicant when asked a question gave their answer and then concluded with, “Did I answer the question?” Well, if you think about it, what’s the interviewer going to say? They could hardly say, “No actually you didn’t”, and then move on. Whatever comes out of your mouth is your responsibility. If you’re unsure, the appropriate question to ask is, “Could you repeat the question please?”

You’ve probably been told time and time again to do your research before going into an interview. That message was either never received or ignored by another applicant. When asked what they knew about the organization the person confessed they didn’t really know much. When further asked about the community in which they’d be working and their knowledge of the organizations they’d be interacting with, the applicant had no idea about either. Score on this question? Zero.

We’re not talking about uneducated and non-qualified applicants here. These are people whom on paper, have the educational qualifications and experience acquired elsewhere. What they lack however is damaging their chances of  employability; things they could easily do to improve are being ignored and overlooked.

In one situation, a candidate showed very little energy or enthusiasm as they answered each question. While saying they were passionate about the work they do, the answer was delivered with a monotone voice, showing no excitement, no emotion, no genuine interest. In other words, the interviewer had a hard time reconciling their words with they body language and their tone of voice. What was very concerning was the same person finally did show some life and energy as they talked poorly about their current supervisor; whom they described in very unflattering terms. There’s obviously a problem in that relationship, and talking about that person badly with real emotion only left the interviewer extremely worried that this person might bring their share of that bad relationship to this new organization. Yikes!

Now it may not sound like something you’re doing wrong, but with several of the applicants they recently interviewed for a senior position, they failed to actually answer the question asked. The interviewer shared with me that they’d put a question to those applying, asking them to share how they’d demonstrated leadership qualities in the past. Rather than actually giving an example, one applicant declared they’d never actually been in a supervisory position before and stopped talking. Leadership isn’t confined to those who work in management. Many front-line employees demonstrate leadership qualities and have the examples to prove it too. Score on this one? Zip.

And the poor answers continued. When you interview for a job, the interviewer is always interested to hear about what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, the impact you’ve had and they want to hear examples that prove you’ve done what you claim. Notice all the, ‘you’s’ in that sentence? You are the one interviewing after all, So it’s unfortunate and a critical fail when an applicant fails to actually talk about themselves. More than one applicant when asked about their contribution in a team setting, focused entirely on what the team was challenged with and how they responded as a team. The problem with this answer was the person gave no indication of their specific contribution to the team, anything they initiated, any suggestion they made that was acted on and most importantly, any positive outcome that came about because of their actions.

Taking credit for the work of a team isn’t what the interviewer wanted to hear, but they did want to hear what role the person being interviewed had in the team, as this was the person they were interviewing; not the entire team. And for all the interviewer knew when they finished their answer, this applicant could have been dead weight and a drag on the team. Nothing was said about their personal role or investment; nothing was included as to the outcome.

As our conversation wound down, the interviewer confided in me that they wished all the applicants had performed better. They wanted to see these people succeed and showcase themselves at their best. Unfortunately, they underperformed and scored poorly in almost all cases. It’s not that the interviewer asked difficult questions, and they suspect that the applicants walked away oblivious to their shortcomings and if asked, would say they performed well. In other words, they are unlikely to seek out the help they need to be successful moving forward; most unfortunate.

I urge you to learn how to perform better in interviews. You may be the pro at your job, but get help so you perform well and compete at your best.

Interviewing When You Know The Interviewer


Which is easier, interviewing for a job when you’re unemployed, or interviewing for a job when you’re being interviewed by people who already know and/or supervise you?

Just to clarify things before you answer, you might be wondering how you could possibly be interviewed by your current boss for a promotion. Well, it could be that you’re a temporary hire and you actually have to re-interview for a permanent position and compete for it with employees from other departments or even external applicants. Or, you might be applying for a promotion to another position altogether and your long-time boss just recently advanced to a position where – surprise! – if/when selected, they’d become your boss again. So it happens.

Many believe that being interviewed by someone who already knows you would be infinitely easier. After all, they know what you’re capable of, they know the successes you’ve had, how you go about your job everyday, your great attendance and punctuality; the interview will be more of a formality than anything. Making these kinds of assumptions is extremely dangerous and ill-advised.

Why you ask? After all, they KNOW you. Well, the answer is simply that you’re in danger because you may fall into the trap of not fully answering questions with the details and examples you’d give to someone you didn’t know. Instead of providing these concrete examples of things you’ve accomplished you might say things like, “Well, you know what I’m capable of”, or “You’ve seen how I handle problems, and I’ll continue to work the same way.”

On the other side of the table, this person who knows you intimately is struggling. You see they want you to interview to your best, and they may even really want to hire you. The problem? They may be bound to record only what you actually say in response to the questions asked, and you may be scored solely based on what comes out of your mouth; not what they know you to be capable of but you leave unsaid.

I’ve heard from employers who have told me they have passed over people they knew well and who were very qualified, because in the interview itself they scored exceptionally low. Their interview scores were weak because they took for granted that the interviewer would score them high based on their relationship and telling the interviewer what they already knew wasn’t necessary.

This boss who knows you well may be rooting for you to perform highly in the interview, but they may be one of two or three people conducting the interview, and they can hardly act unprofessional and at some point in the interview start coaching you on how to best respond if you’re oblivious to the fact you’re failing to demonstrate and prove you’ve done what you claim.

The best advice I can give you is to prepare for all interviews the same; whether you know someone doing the interviewing or not. Be prepared to compete for the job and if you have to make some assumptions, assume you’ll get no favours on the other side; that you have to give specific examples from your past that prove you’ve got the experience, education and skills demanded of the position you’re competing for. Sure, you might start talking in detail about an experience the interviewer knows just as well, but you’ll be scored highly on referencing that example and for using skill-based language that interviewers are listening for.

I myself went for just such an interview many years ago now. I was a temporary employee in a position and just weeks after starting the job, the permanent posting came out. I literally had to interview a second time with the person who had interviewed me the first time. I was competing with others, and my advantage was that I was currently in the role. I treated the interview the only way I knew how at the time, by making no assumptions of favouritism, giving examples of my work which yes, I knew the one interviewer already was aware of. As I answered, I saw smiles of recognition throughout the interview, as I talked about things I’d accomplished and outcomes I’d achieved in the past; just as I did in the original interview. Only later did I learn that I’d taken the right approach. Another employee in the same situation had also interviewed for the role, (there were three jobs available) and was not successful because they gave short answers and heavily relied on the boss to fill in the details.

You might lose out on a job when you’re an external applicant and the job goes to someone already employed in the company. When this happens, you might assume they had the job already sewn up and the interview was a sham; just a necessary formality where you weren’t given an honest shot at the job. This does happen of course. However, sometimes, you lose out because the internal employee really does outperform you in the scoring system the interviews use.

To improve your chances of success when interviewing, make no assumptions if/when you know the interviewer and they in turn know you. Treat the interview as if you were meeting them for the first time and they know nothing about you. It’s up to you to demonstrate and prove you’re the best person for the job. Use all your experiences to your advantage by citing them and make no assumptions.