How to take control of a Job Interview

We all rehearse the obvious questions like “What are your Strengths/weaknesses”, or “What makes you different”, but what about if you are asked to explain how to change a Bicycle tyre”? Sounds completely Irrelevant doesn’t it? It’s not! It is common for your Interviewer to try and put you on your back foot. They will often fire questions at you that are designed to keep you on your toes, mainly to expose your weaknesses.  It is really important that you teach yourself how to expect the unexpected, and more importantly how to answer such questions. Here are some simple tips on how to take control of a job interview and remain one step ahead of your interviewer.

Serve the ball to them.

Following your introduction to your interviewer, start the interview with an offer to run through your CV. This allows you to immediately take control of the conversation and show off your most important attributes/skills/experiences. First impressions count and by making a good strong start to an interview will normally boost your confidence and set the pace of the interview.

Throw them a curveball or two.

Keep in mind that an interview is not just about your future employer finding the right candidate, it’s also about finding the right job that suits you. Many people forget that an interview works both ways. You are there to ask questions too!  So, instead of letting your interviewer swamp you with questions ask them what they enjoy about working there. Find out the ins and outs of how the company operates. This shows interest and initiative, doing this right will often make you more desirable to the employer but at the same time you are standing your ground and making a point that you are not desperate for the job.

Master the Polite Cut-In

As Denise Taylor mentioned in a Live Q&A about how to succeed at an interview, wait for the interviewer to take a breath and cut in with a comment about responding to what they have already said. A polite interruption and careful use of body language can help you regain control of the conversation.

Don’t be Intimidated

From my experience, many employers like to sit you in front of the company Director or Manager at some point during the interview stage. A lot of employers like to use multiple interviewers as an intimidation technique. Do not get nervous. Treat these interviewers the same way you would anyone else. The only difference is they are often more focused on getting through the interview as quickly as possible, making it crucial for you to take and keep control of the interview process. A commonly used technique to avoid being intimidated is to imagine these people with no pants on. Although be careful not to break out into a laughing fit halfway through!

Return the ball to them

One of the biggest mistakes to make in an interview is to not ask any questions. Make the interview about them. Ask questions that will give you more of an insight into the company, the people that work there. It is surprising how many interviewers tell me that candidates have answered all of the questions well but never asked any questions themselves, making them believe that they had no interest in the company.


Be prepared for their return

Answer questions as completely and personally as possible. No matter how strange the questions may be in an interview, there will always be at least one or two competency based questions. If you do not know the answer or if the question is inappropriate, do not be afraid to ask for clarification. It is important that you are not drawn into a question without understanding what they are trying to find out. For example.

Q.”If you were put into a situation with two colleagues and you had to choose one side of the dispute, what would you do”?

  1. Instead of answering with a direct approach, decide what they are trying to discover about your personality. In this case they may be trying to see how confrontational or responsible you are. A good answer would be to explain a similar situation that has occurred in a previous job and how you dealt with it appropriately.

When you control the flow of the interview, you increase the opportunity to make a good impression. Active and engaged communication shows how interested you are, and preparation displays your ability to anticipate and respond accordingly. Do not let the job interview drag on in a long discussion of your shortcomings. If this is the case, remember to use your polite cut-in technique, or draw the interviewers attention to a more positive discussion of your successes and lessons learned.