How To Shine On A Shortlist

Happy young businessman and big city

Well done, you’ve got down to the last two candidates. You’ve answered all the obscure questions and your career has been dissected every which way. You’ve learnt about the role, you’ve got a feel for the culture and you may have even seen your future desk or office. You have done every sort of interview preparation known to man. Part of you is even starting to imagine yourself starting on your first day. You are emotionally hooked. You want that job.

There is just one problem. There is still one last interview to negotiate. You know, the one where you might get offered the job or not. In our experience, there are some key areas where a candidate must focus if they want to maximize their chances in that final interview.

Start well. Getting off to a great start is important; early engagement is the key to a successful interview. Off the cuff and thoughtful comments helping to break the ice in the first 10 minutes are vital. Make them concise and relevant but avoid controversy. First impressions do count.

Self-Awareness. Don’t assume anything. Just because you have got through to the final interview, doesn’t mean that you should act any differently. Listen to the way you speak, be aware of any annoying phrases, verbal tics or other affectations. While it is important to remain relaxed in an interview, you should equally be aware of any body language habits such as overly crossing your arms or nodding just a little too much. They want to hire someone who is “in control.”

Empathy. The senior management at a final interview will be assessing you for interpersonal skills – empathy being high on their list. You have to use your “gut feel” to understand the non-verbal clues, to answer the questions that lie behind what has been asked, and react to those unexpected questions. You need to empathize with your interviewers, put yourself in their shoes, and understand the sort of answers that you would be looking for if you were them.

Rapport. In the final interview, there are often new interviewers involved in the process. It is important to engage authentically with everyone, especially those who you may not have met before. In those final 60 minutes you need to become more than a name on a piece of paper, and build real relationships with the people that might be working with you for the next few years. You need to showcase your attitude not just your achievements; show you are not just successful but maybe also likeable. Be yourself, and they will feel like digging deeper.

Language. The final interview is not only about content – it is about fine-tuning your language to blend in as one of the team. Analyse those moments in the previous interview(s) where you felt that you said something awkward and think about the sorts of phrases and industry jargon that your interviewers have used. Mirroring your interviewer’s language takes away another obstacle to hiring you. Stereotypes are easily made – if you talk differently, maybe you might think differently?

Talk Benefits. Put the finishing touches to the “picture” of your candidacy. The final interview isn’t about what you have done or what you could do; it is about what specific benefits you would bring to their company (and to them as people) if they hire you. Tune into your creative side, tell your story to help the interviewer understand specifically about how you might be of use to them.

So in conclusion, blitz the start, be aware of your impact on others, empathize with the new guys in the room and build that essential rapport. Pay specific attention to your language and hammer home why they should be hiring you.

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