The line that determines interview success or failure

Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2023 by EditorNo comments

You may have heard of the concept of above and below the line behaviour, it’s certainly one that will be familiar to those in managerial and leadership roles.  However, the concept is one that we can all try to consciously practice every day, in all kinds of situations, including candidates going through the job application process.

Whether we act above or below the line is a choice we all make.

The default position for most of us, is below the line behaviour.  It requires less effort in terms of self-awareness.  When we find ourselves under pressure, below the line is the place most will act from, displaying behaviours such as blame, excuses and denial.  In this space, you have basically given up control of the situation, allowing yourself to become the victim.  Learning and moving on from this space is hard.

Even when external influences seem to against us, we still choose how to respond in a situation.

Choosing to live above the line can seem difficult at first – we’re basically holding ourselves accountable to our own values and ideals.  Each time we act from above the line, we’re choosing to learn from an experience, grow as a person and feel more empowered.

During your job application process, you are making a choice at each step to behave above or below the line and making the right choice will undoubtedly get you a step closer to landing the job.

Say you’re running late for the interview.  Interviews are stressful, you’ve been doing your homework on the organisation, thinking about how the meeting might go, maybe didn’t sleep so good last night.  And now after all your preparation, you’ve committed the cardinal sin of being late!  Now you’re feeling the pressure and search for plausible excuses - scenarios blaming traffic works, a family emergency and public transport delays swirl around in your head.  As you try to justify your late arrival with excuses the story gets bigger, and the pressure continues to build. 

Here's your chance to turn this looming failure into success, by choosing instead to act above the line.  Take a moment to ask yourself, ‘Am I looking for someone to blame, or making excuses to justify my current predicament?’  If the answer is ‘yes’, you need shift your mindset to take ownership and responsibility.  Demonstrate your integrity and honesty – apologise for your late arrival, own the fact that you didn’t allow yourself enough time to find a parking space and show learning from the experience ‘I’ll give myself 10 more minutes next time’.

There are other ways to use above the line behaviours to bring you interview success.  Body language is important.  Above the line, you’ll be making eye contact, display confidence and enthusiasm.  Below the line you’ll display anxiety with tension in your shoulders, shallow breathing or pressure in your head.

Consciously practice using above the line language daily, and it will come naturally to you during your interview.  ‘I’ statements demonstrate that you take responsibility.  ‘What’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions show curiosity to learn and understand.  Below the line language centres around limiting and absolute statements and words, such as ‘no’, ‘always’ and ‘never’.  The word ‘but’ negates everything that came before it.

By taking time to simply ask ourselves how we are acting in different situations, we make the choice to have a positive or negative experiences that we carry with us throughout life.  You may or may not be successful in your interview – what determines success if how you choose to react to that outcome.

Tim O’Brien

Director and Business Talent Scout

Jobs In Central Queensland

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