“How to successfully master an interview” – Xing Coaches

Birgit Löding, managing director and coach of the international consulting firm BLCI in Düsseldorf, has been active in the field of international career and executive development for more than ten years. Preparation for job interviews and assessment centers as well as outplacement consulting and business coaching are part of her consulting focus. XING Coaches has told them how to behave correctly in an interview and what to look out for.

This is how you master successfully an interview!

“The body language of the applicant should be congruently to what is said and to the
the position advertised.”
You have cleared the first hurdle and received the invitation to an interview.
Congratulations! The next obstacle on the way to the new job is waiting for you.

XING Coaches: Are there any things I should pay attention to?
Birgit Löding: When the interview starts, the candidate often gets the ball with the question
“Tell me something about yourself.” Important for the applicant is for the
answering this question and also the subsequent questions not to assume that
the information in the application folder is still available to the employer.
Instead, the conversation should be used to get as good as possible from the ground up to the
present. Often there are so many discussions and meetings on the employer’s side on one day that you hardly know why the applicant was originally invited. The question of one’s own personal background should therefore be the most important requirement criteria and key terms from the requirement profile of the cover job posting.

XING Coaches: How far into the past should I go?
Birgit Löding: The employer is interested in the last five to ten years of the
professional experience the most. In particular, you should give practical examples, leadership experience, project collaboration and management, stays abroad, further training, etc., which are directly related to the requirements catalogue of the job advertisement. Only if it is expressly desired
should it be told chronologically from the end of school until the present day. A clear presentation of one to three minutes is usually sufficient. What is said should be well structured and clearly formulated and should invite the employer to ask questions. It is particularly well received when motivation and enthusiasm can already be heard in this self-presentation: “I particularly enjoy building and leading international teams.” If this introduction is well prepared and the employer can successfully tick off his catalogue of requirements for the position while listening in his head, the interview gets off to a good start. From a psychological point of view, it is very difficult to tilt such a good first impression into the opposite. Of course it is at least as difficult to put a negative impression back in the positive light.

XING Coaches: How important is my body language and posture?
Birgit Löding: You create sympathy by, among other things, adjusting your volume, pace, etc. to the host. If this gap is very large, it is more difficult to approach each other in an interpersonal way. The applicant’s body language should be congruent with what has been said and the position advertised – in other words, a manager who speaks with a soft voice and an intimidated posture raises doubts about his or her competence. It is worthwhile to evaluate one’s own body language in coaching with the help of a video recording and to get regular feedback on one’s own non-verbal communication. It is helpful to place both feet parallel on the floor and not to cross your legs in order to have more traction. The hands and arms can be placed on the table up to the elbow.

XING Coaches: How do I get my nervousness under control?
Birgit Löding: Nervousness is a normal reaction to this exam-like situation and, of course, the more weight this interview has for you personally, the higher it becomes. With good preparation and a lot of practice, nervousness can be reduced. It is therefore advisable to also accept invitations to interviews where you are almost certain that you would not take up the position. After about two to four interviews you have so much practice that you can hardly be shocked by anything. Until then, it makes sense in any case to consider personal relaxation strategies, which you practise before the interview, in addition to good preparation. This can be autogenic training, yoga, walks or endurance sports.

XING Coaches: How do you deal with provocative questions?
Birgit Löding: Basically it’s important to stay calm with provocative questions and answer the question objectively without showing your own anger or insecurity. With introductions like “Good question …” or “I just have to think about it …,” you can gain some time by answering. In this way you also take tension out of the situation and show that you have the situation under control.

XING Coaches: What should I do with questions such as: “After 15 years with the same employer, can you even imagine integrating yourself flexibly into our company?“
Birgit Löding: Use examples here to show how you have constantly developed within the company. E.g. through collaboration/management of cross-departmental or international projects, assumption of specialist and management tasks, change of position, continuous further training, etc. This allows you to demonstrate your flexibility, motivation and adaptability.

XING Coaches: „Are you not overqualified for this role?“
Birgit Löding: Here you should show the employer that you see a long-term perspective for yourself in the position and that you have already thought through this situation yourself. Of course, you can always look for new challenges yourself and make this situation more challenging by building up new structures, optimizing processes, introducing products, passing on knowledge to employees or training yourself.

XING Coaches: What questions can I ask?
Birgit Löding: The more the applicant asks questions about the position and the company, the more dialogical and equal the interview will become. Of course, the rule applies: “Whoever asks leads”. Since the invitation came from the employer, he should be respected as the host and the greater part of the question should remain with the employer.
Questions, which the applicant can ask well, are:

  • Why is the position vacant?
  • Is my predecessor still available for questions within the company or elsewhere?
  • Who will train me?
  • What do you expect from me in the first six months?
  • How will the selection process continue?

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