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The Power To Determine The Outcome Of An Interview

Mar 31, 2008
Despite the fact that the interviewee has the ability to influence the outcome of the interview, often they have difficulty making use of that ability. This is an outcome of being too self-critical and perhaps having low self-esteem. Some of the applicants fail to consider their own professional experience and their own personality with due respect. Instead of noticing their strengths they focus on their weaknesses.

When applicants respect themselves and consider their contribution at work valuable they usually find it easier to describe their professional achievements in an interview. However, if an applicant is too self-critical and therefore does not value their own achievements and effort, he/she will have a hard time convincing the interviewer.

Metaphorically, it is similar to a person that has a missing front tooth and during a conversation he tries to hide the fact by covering his mouth with his hand. This action draws attention to the fact that he is trying to conceal something and in effect highlights the fact that the tooth is missing rather than the opposite. In the same manner, a self-critical applicant will focus on trying to hide what he/she consider as their lack of achievement and will compromise their chances of creating a positive impression rather enhance them.

For example: a job applicant resigned from his last position due to a low salary. During the interview he is pre-occupied by what sort of impression his reason for quitting would make on the interviewer. Due to low self-esteem and being too self-critical he thinks that the interviewer may interpret this reason in a negative manner, when in fact this is a good enough reason as any.

As soon as the interview began and prior to being asked, he hastily mentioned the issue due to the stress he felt and the concern of what sort of impression that would make on the interviewer. Instead of talking about what he actually did and achieved in his last position he talked about the reasons for his resignation. The interviewer got the impression that the applicant was trying to make excuses and justify his actions. The impression made was one of insecurity and it stirred the interview in a different direction. The interviewer felt that the applicant felt uncomfortable with the reason for his resignation and decided to pursue the issue further despite the fact that the cause of resignation did not concern the interviewer to such a degree initially.

In his own words, the applicant managed to turn the cause of his resignation, which was reasonable to begin with, to a main issue in the interview and the interview turned sour. Rather than emphasizing his strengths, skills and achievements he exposed his weaknesses.

Mostly, being too self-critical and having low self esteem originate in our childhood and the manner we were brought up in. Experience shows that parents that continuously criticize their children's actions eventually assimilate such behavior and as adults these children often lack self esteem and become too self-critical. If you look around you will notice that criticism is prevalent everywhere - in television talk shows, in newspaper articles that focus on disasters, corruption and negative conduct. Even in social events very often people slander and tend to complain.

Criticism and low self-esteem affect the interview outcome in a negative manner.

You have power and influence

Some of us think that in an interview situation the interviewer has the authority and the power and the interviewee is the weaker one. Yet, the truth of the matter is that the situation is quite different.

The interviewer controls the length of the interview, the questions asked and his/her own behavior, but the interviewer has no control over the outcome of the interview. The interviewer does not have in-depth prior knowledge about the job applicant, his/her past performance, his/her salient characteristics, is he/she a team player, etc.

Within the space of a few minutes the interviewer is required to assess a candidate and this is a complicated mission to accomplish. Hence, the notion that the interviewer has all the information, is aware of everything and controls the interview is misleading and untrue.

The interviewer has control only over:

1. the questions asked
2. the length of the interview
3. their own behavior (including their attitude towards the interviewee).

As an interviewee you can determine and set:

1. the content of your responses, what you choose to emphasize and what not to
2. the tone of your voice and the pace at which you talk
3. your progression - will you be optimistic, pessimistic or lack confidence?
4. your appearance
5. your attitude towards the interviewer
6. the extent to which you are assertive
7. your ability to focus on your positive and effective skills at work

You have the power to influence the outcome of the interview. Your behavior and your responses to the questions asked determine if you get that job or not.

Take advantage of the opportunity you are given and present yourself in a concise and professional manner. Avoid confrontation with the interviewer over issues that are beyond your control such as the type of questions asked, the interviewers' attitude towards you, whether the interviewer is nice or not. These elements are in the interviewers' hands and it is wrong for you to try and influence them.

People that do not view and treat themselves with respect and dignity will have a hard time making a positive impression in an interview. Learn, to respect yourself and what you have achieved - and this will evidently surface in any situation including an interview.

Remember! It is the interviewee, rather than the interviewer, that determines the outcome of an interview by choosing to behave in a certain manner and by the nature and content of his/her responses.
About the Author
Ron Clover is an organizational psychologist who works with the JobTestPrep institute. JobTestPrep, founded in 1992, specializes in preparing job seekers for psychometric tests and assessment centres. JobTestPrep offers online preparation at http://www.jobtestprep.co.uk.
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