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Are you telling interviewers what they want to hear?

Posted on 21st January 2016

When you walk into a job interview, you'll have plenty of conflicting emotions and thoughts rattling around in your head. You might be nervous yet excited at the same time, or feeling confident in your abilities yet still doubting whether you're good enough.

With all this going on, it's easy to lose sight of exactly what the purpose of the interview really is. Interviewers are not trying to give you a tough time and humiliate you - or make you feel inferior next to other candidates.

That's not what they're there for - they just want to find someone with the right skills and competences for an advertised job, and they'll go about this in whatever way they see fit.

So don't walk in to an interview room thinking you have to outwit them in order to cope with tough questions. Instead, make sure you're ready to tell them exactly what they're trying to find out about you. Ultimately, interviewers are just trying to learn a handful of things... 

Are you able to do the job?

Employers will publish a list of desirable and essential skills for a position and it's these that will probably have influenced your decision to apply. So share your thought processes with the interview panel. If you read each skill on the list and thought "yes, I can do that" or "I've done that before", then make it known in your interview and show you offer exactly what they're asking for.

Do you measure up against rival applicants?

Interviewers are human beings, so if they've already spoken to a few candidates before you, chances are you will be compared against them. This is unavoidable and it's something that's out of your control. But it is a fact that should give you the impetus to come across as well as you possibly can in your interview, having well and truly prepared and done your homework before arriving!

Will you buy into the company's culture?

Many firms go beyond looking for skills and experience when they are taking on new members of staff. They want people who represent a cultural fit in their organisation and have the right attitude. After all, companies are increasingly promoting an ethos and a set of values in order to stand out in their industry, so it's important to get people who believe in the same things and will make good brand ambassadors.

Finding someone who represents a good cultural fit could also mean finding someone with the right approach to their work. For instance, they could be looking for people willing to get their hands dirty even if they are in senior roles - and somebody who enjoys a challenge, able to motivate themselves and inspire others to follow their lead.

If you remember that the panel will be thinking about this, you can prepare in advance by researching the company and the culture it promotes. You can then allude to what you've learned in your various answers, even if you aren't explicitly asked if you'd be a good cultural fit.

How much do you want the job?

Interviewers are well aware that not everyone they meet is desperate to forge a long-term career at their company. Applicants might trying be to bag any job until something better or more suitable comes along - and even if they don't say this straight out in an interview, the panel will still be able to tell.

If you give this impression, it's hard for them to think you're the right person for the job, as they don't want to take on somebody only for them to leave a few months later. So show you are serious about wanting the job and working for the company in the long-term if you want to get on the final shortlist.


In order to perform in an interview, you need to put yourself in the interviewer's place and think about what he or she really wants to get out of your talk. While it might feel like they are delighting in making you feel two feet tall, this isn't actually what is happening! They really do just want to see how well you'd perform in the job that's up for grabs! So give them what they want and show you're a top, top candidate!

For tips on how to perform strongly in a job interview, why not speak to our specialists here at Maine Tucker!