As the England team prepares for the World Cup, the usual suspects – the pundits, the fans – discuss their chances of going all the way to the final.
As well as talk of team formation and tactics, there are endless references to 1966 and the last time the country lifted the iconic trophy*.
Performance versus paper
England isn’t one of the favourites in the 2014 competition. But if their chances were zero, the team wouldn’t even bother turning up to play.
And that’s exactly the attitude you need to have with each job interview you attend. Your CV is only how good you are on paper, but it is how you perform on the day that counts.
However, the work for an interview begins before you turn up at your allotted time and your CV is important. Your CV is the equivalent of the group stages as you’re not interviewed along with 31 other candidates.
In fact, a first-stage interview is usually making it to the last eight or last four, so you go into the competition at quarter-final or semi-final stage.
Preparing for the interview itself can be split into three main tasks.
Firstly, you need to prepare mentally. You need to research the company, the interview panel and job role thoroughly enough to understand what the employer is looking for.
When a role is advertised, it means a company has a need. If you understand what that need is, you have a better chance of convincing them you can fill it.
Your recruiter will be able to help you with this preparation by going through example interview questions with you and discussing the role with you in more detail.
Secondly, you need to prepare physically. This isn’t just choosing an interview outfit and making sure everything is cleaned and ironed.
Wear an outfit that you can comfortably walk and sit down in. This might sound like a no-brainer, but feeling physically uncomfortable in an interview could translate into your body language and tone of voice.
A certain level of grooming should be done too, to show you’re taking the interview seriously. Scruffy stubble and chipped nail polish say that you couldn’t be bothered to put in a bit of extra leg work.
Know your competition
Thirdly, you need to prepare emotionally. It’s important to understand where you stand in the rankings and what your odds are at getting the role.
If you’re the Brazil or the Spain of the candidates, your body language and tone should reflect this, but to the point of comfortable competence, not arrogance.
If you’re the England – and we hope they get through to the final eight – then you need to work out what it was about your CV that appealed to the employer.
A good CV says something about the personality of its owner; how professional they are, how organised they are, what they see as their strongest skills and experience. And you need to replicate this at interview in order to underline the reason you’re there in the first place.
Again your recruiter can help you with these preparations as they will have an idea how keen the employer is to meet you and what level of skills the other candidates have.
Don’t live in the past
It is okay to refer to old roles at a job interview, but you should try and make sure most of your examples come from your last two roles; otherwise you’re telling the employer that you’ve been standing still in your current job.
If you’re not the favourite for the role, you may need to play your interview defensively – and that includes staying clear of pointing out how long you’ve gone ‘without a win’.
Leave your 1966 jobs where they are – at the bottom of your CV.
*England’s last win was so long ago, the England team has never lifted the current trophy depicting two human figures lifting the earth – which has only been in use since 1974.