Blog • 1. February 2024

Some practical recommendations for a managerial candidate to improve their performance in a job interview

Well-known US comedian Jeffrey Seinfeld has said humorously about job interviews: "Let's face it, romantic dates and job interviews have more in common than it seems at first glance."

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Well-known US comedian Jeffrey Seinfeld has said humorously about job interviews: “Let’s face it, romantic dates and job interviews have more in common than it seems at first glance. However, the main difference between the two is that the likelihood of finding yourself in bed with a companion at the end of a job interview is quite small”.

However, a job interview is also the place where, in a short period of time, participants try to identify both common ground and red flags and form a kind of vision of the opposing side for themselves. In the case of managers and top managers, it is even more important to feel the similarity of blood groups. I guess the recruiting manager imagines himself flying on a business trip with a managerial candidate and wonders if this could be the person I’m comfortable spending hours with on the plane.

Of course, there are aspects that are quite difficult to change in your personality. The ability to talk about yourself is something that is quite easy to develop. I would like to give some recommendations inspired by job interviews to managers who are facing a job interview and a meeting with a future potential employer.

The interest of headhunters and recruitment specialists is to get a full picture of what the candidate is doing. Therefore, they can ask quite focused questions. However, the recruiting manager may not have the skills or interest to focus: he rather expects the candidate to talk about what he is doing. If one does not ask and the other does not speak, then it may happen that several important actions and achievements of the candidate do not come out in the job interview. Even if it seems to you that everything important was talked about when meeting with a recruitment company, then the final decision on the selection will still be made by the recruiting manager. Make sure that he has all the necessary information about you. What should be paid attention to?

To give an overview of your managerial experience to the interviewer, start by describing the organization and the work environment. We all broadly have an understanding of what Swedbank and Telia are doing. Do you know what Toftan does? If it is a company unknown to the recruiting manager, then he will not be able to put the candidate’s answers in context. Some helpful questions for the candidate to give their story deeper content and structure: Who is the business owner? How big is the company and how long has it been operating in the market? What are the main areas of activity of the company? What products/services are offered? Who are the company’s customers? What is the position of the company in the market? What is the competitive situation in this sector? At what stage of development is the company and what are the main development focuses? Speaking of experience, it’s also good to point out who you were subordinated to and what roles were subordinated to you, what metrics were used to evaluate your and your team’s performance, what were the biggest focus topics on your and your team’s desk. Talk about what was expected of you and what you were able to do with your team. This information may be listed in your CV, but you should also talk about it separately at the interview. It doesn’t have to be a long overview  – structured and short one will do just fine!

I personally like the language of numbers for managers (and especially for top managers). Highlight the metrics that improved in your area of responsibility due to your and your team’s actions. In fact, they could already be referred to in the CV. Since management largely means working with people, it is inspiring to hear a reference to HR-related metrics (improvement in employee satisfaction, decrease in turnover, etc.) from a top manager. Describe what you learned from this period and what experiences you gained as a leader!

Talking about yourself and your leadership philosophy has almost always increased the attractiveness of a candidate in the eyes of recruiting managers. This indicates that the candidate has an established self-image. Also highlight the feedback you have received from others (managers, colleagues, team members). If assessments have been carried out with you in recent years (e.g. 360 degree feedback), then this is very interesting information. We all have some opinion about ourselves, our strengths and places of development. Unfortunately, a lot in our lives also depends on how others perceive us, i.e. what our reputation is. It’s good to know if you were awarded as  the Innovator or Inspirer of the Year. If you are a well-known and recognized player in your company and sector, whose views are taken into account, then it is taken into account that when applying for a new sector, you can be a white sheet for the employer and you need to start talking about your activities again. I’ve noticed that it’s mentally difficult for the top players in their field to start selling themselves again in a new place.

Authenticity and sincerity are something that are increasingly appreciated these days, but showing your hesitations loudly in a job interview does not increase the chances of being selected. Rather, ask specific questions in order to get a full picture of the offer and the organization and form your own interest in the position and organization: at what stage of development is the organization at large? What kind of leader do you expect in your organization and what challenges do you face? What do you value in the organization and what do I get from here?

Although the job interview tries to gather as much important information as possible in a short period of time, in reality, the parties still rely heavily on their instincts, which influence their final decisions. Decisions are later rationalized. After an unsuccessful job interview, as a rule, there are few options for correcting errors.  If the recruiting manager has assumed that this person is still not my person, then, as a rule, he no longer changes his opinion.

Successful job interviews!

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