Understanding Job Interviews

Interview success begins with understanding the interviewer's perspective. Here we outline what interviewers are looking for and what you need to do to give yourself the best chance of getting hired.


What's Being Assessed In Job Interviews

Job interviews are designed to assess candidates in two broad areas: 

  • Job Capabilities
  • Behavioural Traits

Job Capabilities include things like technical skills, industry knowledge, and hands-on experience, while at the other end of the scale Behavioural Traits like self-awareness, resilience, and ease of interactions are also being appraised. There are many other attributes that cannot be easily categorised as either job capabilities or behavioural traits. Things like productivity, relationship management, and situational awareness are a reflection of both what you've learned in the workforce and who you are as a person. Where each of these and other qualities sit in the spectrum of job capabilities and behavioural traits is summarised below.

Competancies vs Behaviours

What interviewers want

A company will use the information presented in résumés to identify candidates who have the necessary skills and experience to perform the role on offer. But behaioural traits cannot be gleaned so easily, and this is where the interview comes in. The questions asked at interview will attempt to not only validate your job capabilities, but also to uncover who you are as a person. And it's this second aspect that is far more important in determining who gets hired. This is particularly evident when two or more candidates have similar skills and experience, and personality is used as a tiebreaker. Moreover, interviewers will often abandon their checklists and scorecards and hire candidates based on intangible gut feelings such as they formed a strong connection with someone or had a good feeling about them or someone who just felt right. And the only way to influence your interviewers in this way is by showing them who you really are, not just as a potential employee but as an individual.

What this means for you as the candidate

As the candidate, you need to be aware that for the most part, your interviewers will have already deemed you capable of performing the role. If not, they would not have invited you to interview in the first place. And so validating that you do indeed have the necessary job capabilities is the easy part. The challenge for you as the candidate is to be able to demonstrate that you have the right behavioural traits for the role and for the organisation. In order to get hired, you need to go beyond what you can do and instead show them who you are and why you're the right fit for their team and their organisation.


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