Control the interview? You decide

The decisions we make in job interviews are crucial. When we hear the phrase “You control the interview”, we often get stomached, writes LIAM HORAN, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

How can I control the interview? Surely the interview panel control the interview?

Yes, you can control the interview. Every time they ask you a question you make the decision about where you bring the answer. You decide whether you want to focus on something that benefits your candidature or something that is either a neutral or a negative for you. So when asked your hobbies, you talk about your involvement in team sport and how you have learned about leadership, camaraderie and personal discipline – because leadership, camaraderie and personal discipline happen to matter in the job you’re chasing.

Typically, you don’t talk about “hanging out with your friends” or “listening to music” because these tend not to recommend you for the job. However, if you play music, or indeed, if you write music, you can certainly bring that into the interview as illustrations of your creativity and commitment to excellence.

It’s the decisions you make that determine the flow and merit of the interview. The interview panel don’t know what you are not telling them: you know what you have in your arsenal and you have to deploy that information to the best possible value to yourself.

Keep the scoreboard ticking over

Every Sunday, you will hear a GAA manager extolling the virtues of ‘keeping the scoreboard ticking over.’

It implies a consistency of effort rather than a fascination with occasional dramatic inputs.

A job interview is the same. Keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Keep talking about things that help them see you as the right person for the job.

Every answer is important. Don’t wait for the interview panel or yourself to warm up. Don’t hold out for the Eureka moment – it may not arrive.

From first answer to last, concentrate on transmitting important and relevant information.

Sell yourself – it’s your right

Interview candidates can find it difficult to sell themselves when they go for a job in their current organisation.

They need to claim this right.

Others – perhaps some with lesser achievements, commitment and experience – will claim this right.

This is an interview. A sales call.

It is not the meeting to decide on the annual bonus or to revise a personal development plan.

Without fully appreciating this, there is always a danger the internal candidate will not perform to the best of their ability in the interview.

You don’t need to justify or explain everything. You are here to sell yourself, not to update management on progress in your division. While you most certainly give credit to your team, this interview, this hour, is ultimately about you, what you have achieved, and what you will bring to this new role.

The culture of an organisation can sometimes make it difficult for candidates to get their mindset right for this challenge, but, without it, the candidate will obscure their achievements, downplay their effectiveness, and, ultimately, let someone else get the job instead of them.

An interview is a time to be a little selfish.

Sli Nua Careers ( ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport ), Dublin, Limerick, Sligo and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies and career direction. For more details, visit



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