‘Good to Great’- Jim Collins’ classic book. In it he states that “greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” It seems that a lot of candidates settle for being ‘good candidates’ – but it is the people who strive to be ‘great candidates’ who get the prized job of their choosing.

GREAT candidates do the following:

  • When researching the company in preparation, they have found the latest press releases or breaking news, googled the interviewer, looked at profiles on LinkedIn and subtly bring some of this learning into the interview answers or their questions.
  • They are very self aware and know their own values and so can determine their own cultural fit to the business. If asked ‘why do you want to work here?’ they answer this by highlighting a match of skills and values which is very powerful.
  • There is a natural inquisitiveness to a great candidate. The interview is a two-way process and if it can become more of a discussion, all the better.
  • They know their achievements inside-out. They have prepared their CAR (see below) structure and can easily walk an interviewer through the story, always finishing with the outcome/result.
  • *Key Learning – How to describe an ‘Achievement’
    • Briefly explain the project or task using the CAR technique.
    • What was the Context? What Action did you take? What was the Result?
  • No matter what level the candidate is, my experience shows that so few people can do this effectively and by not having a structure, miss the one off opportunity to really impress.
  • Even if the interview is more general and not competency-based, the great candidate will talk in an evidence focused way, bringing out examples of achievement to qualify their discussion.
  • Great candidates communicate exceptionally well. They can talk through experiences without needing their CV in front of them or having a ‘portfolio’ of documents to show what they have done.
  • Every candidate should have some nerves before an interview, but great candidates will get their ‘butterflies’ all flying in the same direction. Giving an impression of confidence in body language, facial expression and speech is critical, even if inside you may feel slightly differently. They are not afraid of silences and know when to stop talking. They will answer the question succinctly – if the recruiter needs more information they will ask; a waffler rarely gets the job.
  • Great candidates have opinions and express them sensibly. The questions they ask at the end do not appear to be rehearsed (although often they are); the question may refer to something that has come up in the interview or makes reference to things that they have noticed or discovered whilst on site.
  • Get well networked if you are not already. Great candidates bring varied opinions and know who to approach to add value to the organisation.
  • Great candidates know their current package; know their worth and will negotiate their new package based on fact rather than fantasy. Great candidates are never greedy.