Interviews: Beyond the Checklist

Interview Blog Picture

First things first, this blog post is not about giving you a step by step instruction to acing an interview. There are a million and one textbook questions and answers out there that you can look over, this blog looks at the how you answer and not at the answer itself. You have gotten the interview because the company likes you on paper, now the company needs to ascertain if you are the right fit for the company as a person.

Well we’ve done a brief cover on this topic once before, focusing on the top ten tips for an interview. You can watch the funky video explanation: 10 Pointers for an Interview here.

Here’s also a few links to some lists of really great interview questions with some guiding answers.

But to get more in depth with this topic, let’s discuss what it is that an employer is looking for when they interview you beyond the obvious.

An interview isn’t necessarily just about a checklist of things that can be ticked off on a list of: “Does this person meet the basic technical requirements for this position?”. There are other non-official lists, that an employer will tick off in their minds, while conversing with you.

Most of the time it is things like this on their mind: “Will this person fit into this business in a holistic sense; What is the vibe that I am getting from this person – beyond the obvious nerves; Is this an uptight individual; are they quick to get angry; are they a down-to-earth individual; are they cool headed under pressure?”

Is a business as clear cut and definite as it says it is on paper?

I think companies in 2014 are really interested in the people that make up their companies. It has been shown that very successful companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have taken an invested interest in the well being of their staff members. There is now a holistic approach to business.

By caring about the well being of their staff, they have and continue to maintain a great quality of service. The happier and more cohesive an employee is the harder they will tend to work for the company.

The company needs to know how well you can fit into the “family” that they have created. Will you be a positive or a negative influence on the status quo? This will be conveyed in your tone and how you convey yourself during the meeting.


Although confidence is very important, relevance is definitely a key point to remember when sitting in an interview. The employer will ask you a series of questions about yourself and you must take into account how your answers will best relate to the job position you are being interviewed for as well as the company that will hire you.

Understand that the interviewer is looking for qualities that they can relate to the job at hand as well as how your skillsets and methodologies can synchronise with the business. Being confident and saying the irrelevant things is just as bad as being too nervous and not saying anything.

Organise your thoughts

It’s good to clearly sort your thoughts out before saying anything. Practice does make perfect, but it also isn’t just about reciting “the best possible answer” that you have prepared for potential questions. The employer will be able to tell if you are merely saying things to check the boxes or that you are genuine about your answers.

Prepare so that you don’t cave under nerves

Know yourself and know your interviewer. The better you know it, there more you will show it. The more you prepare the better you’ll perform under nerves, but remember it’s not a recital. All answers to questions should maintain a level of relevance and authenticity. If you know yourself and what you are about, and know the business and what it’s about, you will be better able to genuinely relate yourself to the business.

“If you know yourself and know what the business is looking for then you will feel more confident in your interview and make less mistakes.”

So to sum it all up… just keep in mind that an interview is not an exam that you can just get away with saying the right thing. Your pass mark is more than just a paper checklist. Be the person you would hire, not just for credentials but more so for who you are. Alright… cheese over, thanks for reading my blog post, I hope this helped you.

Written by Nicholas Raine


The views expressed in the blog post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the South African College of Business.