The reason why Trust trumps skills in the process of getting the job

October 25, 2017
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As a career coach, I’ve discovered the reason many people don’t land the job. It is because they don’t understand the core quality an employer is looking for when assessing candidates for a role. When I ask the simple question “What do you think you need to do to be successful in a job interview?” the most common response is:

“Show I have the skills to do the job”  “Prove I am the best person “

Those answers aren’t wrong BUT they do miss a crucial point. The job doesn’t always go to the smartest candidate, the most qualified candidate, the candidate with the most experience, or the sharpest CV. The job always goes to the person the panel trusts!

So the best way to ace an interview is to build trust with the interview panel.

How you build trust in a job interview is by answering two core questions that the panel never explicitly ask:

  1. Can we count on you to do your job our way?
  2. Are you a good fit for the business?

Answer these two trust building questions, and you put yourself in the best position to score the job. So what does this mean for how you respond to interview questions? Every statement you make should frame around showing you have the skills for the job. Your answers should support as why you can do the job in a way that fits with the way the company operates. To prepare, you can practice your best behavioral answers and examples of your personal strengths.


If you’ve made the short list for an interview usually means an employer believes you have the skills to do the job. Meeting them face-to-face is your chance to personalize that skill set by showing an employer who you are. Persuading them that you’re not just the best choice for now, but for whatever lies ahead.


Meeting them for a chat is when you get to show them they can ‘trust’ you to do the job in the context of their business. They want to see that you can you be flexible. That you collaborate and that you are able to modify your approach to fit with how they do business.

Employers want people who don’t cave under pressure when faced with problems but instead find smart solutions to problems. People who are  team focused, collaborative, resilient and adaptable are most likely to get hired.


This means you need to demonstrate how you’ve applied your skills to achieve positive outcomes and how you have changed or modified your approach to suit existing business protocols. That might sound conformist, but that’s the point. At the interview stage employers are generally looking for people who will slot right in – people who will embrace the business systems, processes and culture.


Troublemakers and disruptors might be great for new tech economies like Uber and Airbnb, but most employers want people who think like them, work like them, to achieve their goals. They don’t want “revolutionists” they want “evolutionists”.


A “good fit” refers to fitting in with the company culture, which is driven by purpose, vision and values. Using the same words in your responses as they use on their website when stating their purpose and values shows that you are a good fit to their business. Doing this creates a sense of similarity between yourself and the employer which enhances trust.

It is important to note that it is you who must fit with the business purpose, values and culture and not the other way around.


During the interview process getting that fit right works both ways.   You might realise that your values don’t match those of the business. If they’re hankering for weekend work that puts profit before work life balance, or if they’re military style micro mangers and you need creative freedom to thrive you might ask yourself “Why am I here, am I a good fit for this company?”

A mismatch of values between yourself and your employer will have a significant negative impact on you.  Generally, people who exhibit a mismatch suffer from higher levels of stress; lower levels of job satisfaction; performance issues; and difficulties creating close connections with colleagues.


So yes, build trust to show them you can do this job better than anyone else. But don’t forget to listen to your own instinct in deciding whether this company feels right for you. Ask yourself “What job suits me personally”. The Vulcan blessing in Star Trek is ‘Live long and prosper’. Find the perfect match in the job hunt and everyone along the command chain can ‘Work long and prosper.’

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