Some people talk to me about how they’ve prepared for an interview, and they make me laugh. They put in a huge amount of effort into how they will be seen so as to show themselves in the best light. They spend ages selecting the perfect interview jacket (somewhere between classic and modern is what most people settle on) and the shoes that will go with it. But they haven’t spent all that preparation time where it can most usefully be spent – in the mind of the interviewer.

Now, you won’t actually get to spend time in that hallowed space. But you can create a model of what they’re likely to be thinking. And for that you need to gather evidence. Most relevant, the job advert you’re responding to. Is there anything about this specific Business Analyst role that seems unusual in terms of skillset or responsibilities? Have a think about what reasons there might be for that, and take some time to imagine yourself addressing those points in your interview.

As well as the job ad itself, do some searching about the state of the company at this point in time. Has there been investment? Is there talk of a takeover? You should be able to find press releases on the company website. Look at them over the past year – is there a particular narrative coming through? If you spot one, consider how your skills and experience relate the story that’s outlined.

Assuming you’ve got the profile that the company is looking for, the interviewer will take you seriously for the role. Think about it less in terms of selling yourself to them, and more about allowing the interviewer to realise that you’re the solution they seek. You don’t have to be shy about promoting yourself, but what you can do that makes a difference is present the facts about yourself in a way that’s a response to their stated and implied needs rather than just telling them how great you are.

What does this all mean in practice? Above all, be flexible. Listen out for what the interviewer needs, what they want, and what they’d like to have. And answer to those specific points. They might have been there in your job application buried in a couple of paragraphs anyway, but now is time to pull those pieces out and present them to the interviewer.

So, assuming they need someone with about 8 years experience, want them to be familiar with pharma processes, and would like them to speak French, then feed them back that information in that order and use their words. The ones you use are fine, but if someone has a preference for saying things a certain way then this is the time to respect that choice and impose your own preferences on them. Trust me. And if you want to practice that style, remember that’s something I could work on with you in a Skype session.

Confidence has been turned into a quality that we often associate with media icons rather than regular human beings. Robbie Williams bounds onto stage, and within seconds a stadium is smiling with him, laughing with him, moved by his vocals. Nicola Adams steps into the ring and gives it her all, and retains her Olympic record – then does an interview where she’s charm itself.

There are lots of layers to unpick here, and one of them is simple enough: just as we all have good days, we have bad ones. The Robbie Williams story wouldn’t be complete without an account of his down times. And that tells us something: whatever confidence is, it’s something that isn’t entirely in our control.

Look at the word confidence itself, and you’ll find it means ‘with faith’. So let’s have a think about that. For some people, ‘faith’ implies spirituality, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Try this little thought experiment. When you contemplate having faith in these different contexts, which of them makes you feel good about doing an interview for a Business Analysis role? Repeat them to yourself to see which feels best:

  • I have faith in my ability to serve with integrity.
  • I have faith that I’ll shine in your organisation.
  • I have faith in my skills as a Business Analyst.

Try each of those statements on. Notice how each makes you feel. And when it comes to the interview, approach it with the particular belief that inspires you to be at your best. You could try tweaking the wording a bit for that extra level of finesse.

Make no mistake – what we believe is what will come out of us. It happens in interviews, it happens when we’re doing the job itself, it happens when we’re at home. What we have faith in shifts over the day according to context, and being precise about where we put our faith can support us to excel.

Go into a Business Analyst interview knowing where your faith is, will ensure you approach it with confidence. And it will shape your performance in the job itself, thus giving you more experience to draw on when you think of how you behave in that role.  What’s good about approaching confidence in this way is there’s no tricksy stuff about changing your voice or body language – those shifts will happen naturally as a result of the state of confidence you’re feeling.

How you respond to a setback says a lot about you. And that skill is critical in ensuring your long-term success in the field of Business Analysis.

You’re not going to get offered every job you do an interview for. And that’s a good thing. Not every job deserves you as a candidate – and you don’t deserve to get every job. That might sound harsh, but think it through with me.

There are jobs you think you want, until the interviewer helps you realise that actually – you don’t. Maybe it’s what they state or imply about the role. The company. The person you’d be working under. But finding out that the situation would be toxic for you counts as a win. You get to live another day, and find a better environment for your skills.

Maybe you wanted the job too much. It’s the same as being on a date. You can be so fixated in success, you forget to enjoy the moment and come across too…eager. And that doesn’t feel like a win to the interviewer, who wants some sense of having coaxed you.

There are 101 other maybes – actually many more. And I discover more all the time, by talking to candidates and interviewers. Plus, I have my memory to draw on. Remember, I’m the woman who goes for Business Analyst interviews just out of curiosity. I’ve been offered jobs I have zero intention of taking, just to see if my theory about the role or interviewer was right, and to practice my interview skills.

Now, admittedly, me enjoying interviews as a hobby makes me a freak of nature. But it also gives me insights into the whole process that you won’t get elsewhere. Curious about whether how I dressed affected how I was perceived in interviews, I turned up to several wearing some of the cheesier offerings from my wardrobe, behind the door labelled Disco. And I was still offered jobs. Wondering just how much difference voice tone has when you’re talking with an interviewer, I was offered no jobs at all when I spoke in a monotone. As soon as I put some oomph back into my talking, I was offered a job.

Really, there isn’t such a thing as a bad outcome. The only failure, is the failure to learn from what happened. And believe me, there’s always something to learn. Maybe you’ll be wrong – you’ll think you’re onto something about eye contact, but then realise it’s not that and then there’ll be another theory. That’s fine. Our brains are entertained by stuff like that. And if they’re entertained, our minds do wonders for us. That’s how come, when the time is right, everything falls into place, and we get that job. But to bounce back, you’ve got to mess up in the first place – so, here’s to failure!