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The secret to passing any job interview

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In the last six years as a recruiter, I have interviewed over 7,000 candidates. I have had a chance to interview entry level candidates, supervisors and CEO’s.  When it comes to professions, I have interviewed across the board including accountants, sales, HR, IT, procurement, admin and technical professions.

Interviewing is a task that I enjoy as I get to meet many candidates and somehow impact their career.

For any position that we are recruiting on behalf of an employer we usually invite 10 to 15 candidates for a preliminary interview and recommend at least five candidates for the next stage with the client.

The common mistakes I have identified with candidates during interviews regardless of position includes; lack of preparedness, poor presentation skills, poor self-confidence, and a lack of understanding of the role. Recruiters and employers use interviews to gauge your skills, enthusiasm and whether you are a good fit for the organization.

While mistakes do happen in an interview and that there’s no such thing as a perfect candidate, it is important to do your part and minimize on the errors.

One of the secret to passing a job interview is to understand the role. And how do you do this? It is as simple as going through the job description and understanding it from an employer’s perspective. Nowadays, interviewing has shifted from the common interview questions like tell me about your five year plan to your competency i.e. what skills and qualities do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for the job. But you shouldn’t stop at understanding the job description. You have to look at the company vis a vis the industry, regulations, suppliers, clients and everything else that makes a company run smoothly. Be an all rounder.

Character is key is when it comes to your career. I have met very good candidates who have the right skills and industry knowledge but have a problem moving up the career ladder because of their character. Beyond qualifications and skills, employers are interested in what you believe in as an individual. Are you a person of integrity? Can you work under minimal supervision?   Can you be entrusted with company assets? What will your previous employer say about you? No serious employer will employ you without conducting proper reference checks.

Another big concern with employers is on the soft skills. Wikipedia defines soft skills as the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc

These skills are transferable skills, so they can be used in many different types of jobs. They are personal qualities and attitudes that can help you to work well with others and make a positive contribution to organizations you work for.

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Employers are aware that technical skills can be taught more easily than soft skills, which tend to be either personal characteristics or skills that have been fine-tuned over a period of time. Sometimes it’s not easy to change a person’s characteristics or belief.  Employers also expect you to possess certain soft skills depending on your level and area of training. It is highly unlikely that you will be considered as a potential candidate if you don’t demonstrate such soft skills. If you would like to know your strengths and weaknesses I’d recommend you take a personality test.

The secret to passing any job interview is to know yourself better and be clear on how you can meet the needs of an employer.

Perminus Wainaina is a Recruitment Consultant at Corporate Staffing Services. He delights in seeing professionals take control of their own careers and make choices that work better for them.

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