The 5 Candidate Types You’re Competing Against in Your Job Interview

Got a job interview invitation? Brilliant – yay …. #GetHired2018

Are you worried or just hoping for the best? Well, hope and fear are the big enemies of anyone competing for a job. Especially in the last mile. Don’t let it unravel you. Instead, think about the other likely types of candidates and how you can outclass them in the upcoming interviews.

  1. The UBER Preparer

We all hate and fear them. The UP candidate started preparing the nano second after being invited. The UP candidate has minutely studied the employers news stories on and offline (as far back as 2000), and practiced her answers to every possible interview question to be found on Dr Google. The UP candidate has also researched salaries on Glassdoor, found and connected with people on LinkedIn who work there, and already lined up 2 or 3 informational interviews just to practise a bit. You don’t have a chance to beat the UP candidate — or do you?
How you can trump a UP candidate

Firstly, show up for an interview fully prepared. That will give you an enormous leg up on the competition and at least put you on equal footing with the UP candidate. However, there is such a thing as over-preparing. When you over-prepare, you risk coming across as a stilted robot. A much better way to go about getting ready, especially when it comes to anticipating interview questions, is to think about the most commonly asked questions and then consider examples from your work history that would be good to share.

In other words, rather than memorising answers and facts and data, spend time thinking about examples in your most recent career when you were super-challenged, or very proud, or learned a lesson, and so on. This way, you can draw upon them readily, without being over-rehearsed.

  1. The Cruise Control Candidate

The CC candidate is the complete opposite of the Uber Preparer. He’s (you may have noticed that I’m switching between “he” and “she” arbitrarily) going to spend 20 minutes, tops, limbering up for this meeting. Why? Worst case for you is it could be because he’s generally good with small talk and banter, and he knows that he’s a great match on paper for the role.

How you can out pace him

You clearly have an advantage over this guy if you do your homework. I know this because I interview hundreds of people every year and smooth talkers don’t always get by on charm alone. Study your interview partners, find out what’s going on with the potential employer, and jot down 5 or 6 smart interview questions to ask either during or at the end of the job interview, to show that you’ve been paying attention.

  1. The Thoroughbred

There is a very strong chance that you’ll also be competing with someone who has all the right names and titles in her resume – i.e. a strong pedigree such as top of the line education as far back as her private school in 1999, career chronology at the Tier 1 employers and so on.  You get the drift.

So, how can you match up when you’re not an Oxford-educated professional, who has done global humanitarian work, and enjoyed a career climb through the most revered organisations in the land? Well, hey I have news for you. That’s pretty much called most of us.

How you can still get ahead

If you know that you have applied for jobs that you are suited and qualified for vs jobs that you simply just wanted, then you simply cannot get all tangled up with fear of the Thoroughbred. It’s not going to help you in any way. Instead, focus all your research and headspace on what (specifically) this organisation wants and needs from the person they’re going to hire for this role. Figure it out through the job description, through networking with “insiders” before the interview, and as a surprise, through smart interview questions itself.

Use this intel to your advantage. Spell out that you can walk through their doors and deliver their specific needs with their priorities in mind. Focus on which of their problems you can help to solve. Most jobs are about the DOING not the BEING, so show and highlight what you can DO for the future employer.

  1. The Perfect Match

You believe that you are an 80% solid fit for the role. Well, that’s great until you start to worry about the Perfect Match candidate. I have news for you! PM candidates exist only on paper and even there, they still have to pass the final test containing two crucial questions.

They might have the right number of years of experience, and all the required industry skills and qualifications. But, you know as well as I do that perfect-on-paper does not always constitute a perfect match for the company.

How you can beat the Perfect Match candidate.

An important thing to realise, especially if you’re not a 100% match, is that companies tend to hire based on three final things, not just one. The first thing they’re looking for is the obvious one: “Can she do this job?” This absolutely must be a “yes” or you go no further in the competition.

And, for sure, this candidate might have ticket all the boxes on that subject and may be in the mix for a job interview. BUT, these two other all-deciding factors will make or break the job interview

#2 “Do we like her?” and #3 “Do we trust her to fit into this company and its culture?”

So, come prepared with good answers and excellent verbal and non-verbal interview behaviour to demonstrate that you are the better candidate for the role. If you want to test it, line up an informational job interview or conduct a mock interview with a career coach.

  1. The Cocky Candidate

This candidate is the easiest to beat. In fact, I actually believe you don’t need to worry about him at all, since he usually disqualifies himself.

Hiring professionals appreciate confident candidates. But, there is a fine line between confidence and noticeably cocky or full-on arrogant candidates. It’s usually game over within a few minutes of the job interview.

How to compete with him

Come prepared and enter and leave the interview with a sense of enthusiasm about yourself. Speak with energy, make eye contact, be upbeat, natural and friendly, and keep your responses direct and succinct. In other words, hold your head high without coming off as a know-it-all. Work to communicate in a style that resonates with the person you’re meeting with.

Go the extra mile in preparing for your job interview.  It is well worth it and trust me, the extra mile is usually less crowded because any job competition ends up being an individual race. You need to focus on how you can show up strong and perform your best. So come prepared and always remember to hunt wisely!