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Articles on Job Interviews

Learn how to win at high-level job interviews, with easy-to-learn techniques that are proven to work.

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06. Help with interview techniques: Beware the casual chat 

As a job interview coach I obviously provide help with interview techniques! In doing so, I repeatedly hear people's frustration at having been invited to a job "interview" which is a very informal and casual chat.  

The problem is that many people get sucked in to becoming far too relaxed and end up chatting about things that have nothing to do with the position. This includes senior executives.

Sadly, these people have often been unsuccessful following this informal coffee shop interview, or luncheon interview. Beware the casual chat!

Gain help with the interview techniques specifically required for the coffee shop chat, if you know you are going to have one. A professional interview coach, such as myself, can work with you to ensure that you still sell yourself convincingly despite the informality of the interview.

Here are some interview techniques for the casual chat.

Help with interview techniques tip 1: Don't be sucked in by "chatting"

When you are invited to an interview and the interviewer sits with you in a very relaxed manner, and chats in a very social way, do not be fooled by this. Do not be lulled into only talking about yourself in a social context, or passing the time of day. 

Your role is not just to show them what a nice person you are, it is to show them how good you will be in their job. Even if it's a "coffee shop chat" your job is to sell yourself.  

  1. Do not just follow what the interviewer does.
  2. Do not be sucked in by "chatting".
  3. Sell yourself and take control of what you say.
  4. Stay focused on why you are there and what your strategic goals are - which are to get the position you are applying for!

Help with interview techniques tip 2: Weave in your specific strengths

Whatever the questions you are asked, whatever casual topics are introduced, and however informal and relaxed the coffee shop or luncheon chat may appear, make sure that you are still explaining your strengths.

They still need to be woven into the discussion in some way. Thus, if the topic moves towards hobbies and football, and you have coached the junior football team, say so and explain the value of your leadership or mentoring skills, as relevant to the position you are applying for.

Of course, this means that you need to know what your strengths are, and this isn't always easy to do. As a job interview coach, I find that most people tell me their strengths in too general a way and don't explain their true worth.

If you find this difficult, as many executives, managers and professional people do, a job interview coach can help you specifically delineate your impressive strengths at the level required for the position. 

Help with interview techniques tip 3: Focus on what you can do for them 

Any relaxed interview conversation is still about the people interviewing you, and not really about you at all. This is because the person talking to you is mainly interested in discovering what you can do for his or her organisation.

You still need to be able to: 

  • Explain how they will benefit by employing you.
  • Convince them that you will be of value to their company or organisation.
  • Explain how the skills and experience you have will transfer across to their specific situation.
  • Show you are a good cultural fit and have values, interests and skills in common. One exception to this is when the organisation is looking for a new leader specifically to address the cultural problems within the organisation. In this case they may not want you to be a good cultural fit but someone who will promote a different culture.
  • Show you can get on with the important people, e.g. the person interviewing you, if they are the CEO or the person with whom you will be working.

When your interview is heavily disguised as a relaxed chat, wherever it is held, always remember it is still a job interview.

Even if you are a CEO, a CFO, a COO or other high level executive, place your attention onto the prospective employer and help them to pick you by clearly articulating your strengths, explaining your vision for their future, and how you will benefit them.

And, if you need more help with interview techniques for this type of tricky interview please get the help you need from a professional job interview coach, such as myself.