I assume that a lot of people in the recruitment world tuned in to Wednesday’s episode of The Apprentice.  You know, the one we all secretly love with the nasty-as-hell interviewers? I caught myself thinking back to Mark’s big fail in last week’s episode where he lost it during his pitch, and wondered whether he would be able to keep it together under this week’s intense interview scrutiny, an environment where we see a lot of candidates fall short of their full potential.

I’m pleased for him that it appears to have been a one-off as he performed well under pressure. But why is it that he sailed through to the final this week and yet last week completely crumbled and was close to being taken out of the process? What’s interesting, and obviously reinforced by his performance this week, is that it is not a function of innate ability. If you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that he’s generally considered to be the most skilled sales person out of the 20, but for a short and key period last week he couldn’t sell anything to anybody.

The fact, and we all already know this, is that he was so desperate to win and to prove himself that his internal dialogue went into overdrive, and with that his ability to perform. But if we all already know this, why did one of this year’s finalists get caught out and why do we see an endless stream of candidates underperforming in our interviews; not because they are not good, but because they lose control of what’s going on in their heads?

At SuperGrad, we put a lot of energy into helping graduates to interview more effectively and we know that, for most of them, simply making changes to how they breathe and actually being present ‘in the moment’ will enable them to completely avoid the situation Mark found himself in.  

Although this is commonly understood, what we see is candidates who instead think they need to prepare for longer, thinking that if only they can have all the clever answers then their interview success will be assured. This is simply not true. In reality, they’ve done enough prep, and they actually have every chance of getting the job, but what will make it a slam dunk for them is to simply breathe, relax and genuinely enjoy it.

If you are currently interviewing, this is an important point. Of course, you need to prepare effectively, but assuming your preparation is adequate, doing more is not what will get you the job offer. If you are seeking success in the interview room then instead, irrespective of how much prep you have done for a particular interview, mentally let go of your prep before you go in, get out of your head and focus on actually being there and connecting with the person right in front of you. It may not be the approach that comes most naturally to you, but it is the one you should be adopting if interviewing successfully is something that is more important to you.