The most qualified candidates get the job only about 35 percent of the time. 

That statement, based on research from more than 18 years of conducting executive retained searches, always surprises aspiring candidates.  So who is getting the jobs, if not the best qualified?

Interview in progressThe answer is simple:  Qualified people who do a better job of interviewing.

A significant number of candidates shoot themselves in the foot – both feet, actually – because of poor interview performance.  Aside from the resume, which IS the first interview, more candidates fall from grace because they have not educated themselves about the issues facing the client.  Their answers reflect an attitude that winging it is good enough, and then they are surprised, disappointed and go out and make the same mistakes again.

Competitive interviewing is not a skill set that most executives think about or attempt to perfect.

If you look at the questions posed in 50 different searches you will find that at least 40-45 percent are the same or similar in theme or subject matter.  There are numerous books on this specialized subject of interview questions and no shortage of coaches and career brand management experts who have written on this subject.  

If an executive is spot-on qualified for a job, but doesn’t get a call for even a screening interview, they should go back to their resume and make changes because clearly there is a problem. 

Executives who make it to the face-to-face interview with the client but are the perennial bridesmaid should also pause, take a deep breath and ask themselves why they keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a better outcome.  

If you have made it to the finals more than three times and you were not selected, it is time to admit you have a problem and you need help.

It is true that there are a lot of factors in a search that shape the outcome.  The candidate’s performance in the face-to-face interviews is the biggest and most critical.

© 2012 John Gregory Self