The “NOT IT” Factor in Interviewing

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The decision NOT to hire someone can be as fast as yelling “1,2,3, NOT IT” in a game of tag.  Interviewers can often tell within minutes that a candidate is not right for their company. There is a “not it” factor in interviewing.

What is the “IT” factor in hiring, and what are some candidates doing wrong?

In other words, what is the “NOT IT” factor?

In my experience as a recruiter, the “NOT IT” factor is a combination of many things, all starting with the very first communication from a candidate.

How NOT to Get an Interview in the First Place

As a recruiting firm, Artemis Consultants comes across resumes on a daily basis.  We have become experts in spotting red flags.  Things that catch our eye right away include spelling/grammar mistakes, “fluffy” descriptions of work not backed by achievements, excessive job hopping, and a resume that is not well tied to the job opening advertised.  This is how a qualified candidate might NOT get an interview.

But, let’s say the candidate gets past this step and is offered an interview…

How NOT to Enter a Room

To me, the “IT” factor is best described as a qualified candidate who oozes both confidence and charisma.  When I am interviewing a candidate and they come into the room, I am weighing confidence first.  This is seen through eye contact, posture, a firm handshake, appropriate dress and speech.  It’s also the ability to time conversation—for example, a candidate who is nervous and perhaps lacking confidence might talk or laugh too much and come across as disingenuous.

NOT IT: someone who enters the room looking down at notes or a phone, expresses lots of nerves, and stumbles over the greeting.

How NOT to Interview

Whether a candidate is interviewing for an executive position or something else, I like to counsel clients using the term “executive presence.”  Dr. Patty Ann Tublin of Huff Post describes it like this: “People with executive presence exhibit confidence, competence, poise, effective communication skills and the ability to remain calm in the eye of a storm- all fundamental characteristics of executive presence.  If you don’t look, act and sound like an executive or leader, it will be extremely difficult to be perceived as one or to become one.” In an interview, every candidate should have a goal of presenting themselves with executive presence.

The “IT” factor in an interview is a combination of personality, confidence, poise and communication.  Beyond the confidence previously discussed, it’s “owning” your accomplishments during an interview, knowing the hiring company’s needs inside and out, listening intently to interview questions, and speaking positively about your skills to everyone in the room.

It’s answering questions with presence and genuine personality.  One way to describe a great interview is how the room feels after a candidate leaves.  Their missing presence leaves the people in the room wanting more.  That’s the “IT” factor.

NOT IT: well, that is someone who has not done their homework, does not have a valuable presence, and does not leave interviewers wanting to learn more.

Employers are finding ways to intentionally create informal moments to see more sides of a potential hire.

Turning “NOT IT” into “IT”

If you struggle with landing a job, here are some practical steps to take:

  • Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework. What this means is that the more you know about the specific company and position, the more natural confidence you will exude.  Once you learn the information, think and prepare answers on how your background fits the position. Practice delivering your answers in your head or in front of someone else (make sure you add in your positive accomplishments).
  • Know your personality and let it shine. Be genuine.  Not everyone is going to be highly charismatic, but not every job demands it.  But, every interviewer is going to want to see a well-rounded person who is confident in their own personality.  Don’t put yourself down, but come across to others as someone who likes themselves and knows they are capable.
  • Get the details right- resume, application process, etc.
  • Notice the “IT” factor in others. Be analytical. Imagine yourself as an interviewer who is trying to find excellence in a candidate.

At Artemis Consultants, it is our mission to match candidates to positions where they will be highly successful.  We counsel both hiring managers and candidates about what to look for in when interviewing and how to best present yourself.  Let us help you land that new role, so you can go from “NOT IT” to “IT.”

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