Chess vs. Interviewing

From our experience we like our candidates to view interviews as a game of chess, a challenging game of chess to be exact. The reason we make this comparison is, because when you are being interviewed your every word is being scrutinised and dependent on what you say it will determine the next steps, how you move forward, this is why it is important to calculate the next step in order to influence it.

Consider this, before you can engage in a game of chess you need to understand all the pieces of the chessboard, their roles, rules and how they impact on the outcome of the game. Much like an interview, there will be various stakeholders that will impact the final decision. You will generally find the below, so understand the position you are interviewing for and the role it will play within the company;

The passionate PAWN

  • Can only move one square at a time to protect his fellow colleagues.
  • Needs to possess determination, loyalty and passion to keep them motivated.
  • Ambitious yet understands the constraints of his role.
  • Strong and fearless with the ultimate desire to grow and succeed.

If your role is that of a pawn, the manager hiring you will be looking for passion and commitment and a potential to grow, but at not too rapid a pace. Express enthusiasm by smiling and making some small talk to provide them with insight into you as a person, giving them reason to like you.

The Courageous KNIGHT

  • Ability to move and make decisions on their own, due to their unique ability to make that L-shaped movement right across the board.
  • This position can move without a pawn making a move, but if they move to quick without careful consideration, they could end up outside the game and captured so to speak.

So if you are interviewing for that Knight role, you need to demonstrate your strategic capabilities without saying you are an expert, as this has become somewhat of a cliché. Demonstrate by using examples of your strategic and courageous character. Be honest, don’t highlight a weakness as strength and rather say it is an area of key focus, which shows your willingness to improve.

The blunt BISHOP

  • In chess there are 2 bishops, individually they can only move diagonally and may lose their power in an attack.
  • They possess greater powers over 2 knights or a knight and another bishop
  • Essentially you need to be able to collaborate and work with fellow bishops in order to protect and serve your king
  • Collaboration and an ability to co-operate with other bishops is key.

Whilst it may appear like you can either please the hiring manager or be your true self, it is important that you find a happy medium and the only way to do this is to truly research the role, what position the company is in and what skill sets will be required in order for you to showcase your best assets. This is all about proving your performance record.

The unruffled ROOK

  • Possess power higher than a single Queen
  • Must be wise about when and how to use this power
  • Warrior ability as you are capable of attacking 14 squares, but need to hold out on your attack until the time is right
  • Holding out strategically and knowing when to strike can ensure you work with the King and save the game.

It’s all about your passion exercised with perfect timing. Hiring managers will test your ability to hold out by bating you into small debates to test your resolve. How quickly will you react and overcome conflict. Whilst you are strong and have amazing potential, an attack in an interview will not showcase the right skills. Stand by your beliefs, but please be open to other opinions.

The critical KING

  • The most critical player that rules over all the other pieces.
  • Must showcase constructive defense tactics as opposed to offensive tactics.
  • Must be able to have vision, strategic ability and be a strong people person

Goals are the secret to this role, just like you would not jeopardize the company to the benefit of achieving your own goals; you need to ensure your goals are aligned to the company goals. Let’s talk goals. It’s the “secret sauce” to any job interview. The same way you don’t endanger your king because of the risk of checkmate, you also have to keep in mind your own professional objectives. Every job is supposed to be another piece that completes the bigger picture. It should bring you closer to your dreams. Remember, you are also interviewing the company and the hiring manager, to ensure they are aligned to your career aspirations. Regardless of the job, remember the reason you are there.

The unconquerable QUEEN

  • Most valuable asset, just like the queen on a chessboard, considered to be of more power than any other piece or combination of pieces. She moves across multiple squares in any direction
  • Displaying strategic vision and knowing when to bring these best qualities to the front, as exposing strategy too early could lose you the game.

This will be a highly sought after position with many great candidates, so it is imperative that you effectively demonstrate what makes you shine more than any other candidate. What are your winning strategies and unique selling points? An amazing portfolio needs to be showcased along with a highly proven track record and references that bear testimony to that. Bring something extra along to this interview.

In closing it is not just about getting the job or not, it is about how you go about securing the job. Your hiring manager is not your enemy, but can be a very fruitful ally or skilled opponent, research well ahead of the interview in order to be best position to play the game and be as engaging as you can.