X-factor is that elusive quality that sets one person apart from the
crowd. It’s something to do with charisma, a little bit about the way that person makes you
aspire to be like them, and a lot about them making you feel like you’ve known them forever.
Whatever the exact ingredients, if we could bottle it and sell it we’d all be
As you will have guessed, this article isn’t about the TV phenomenon of the same name. It’s
about how you can use the X-factor to stand out in an increasingly
competitive job market. But the TV show is relevant here, because the format is very
similar to the typical recruitment process.
So how can you use your X-factor in the job interview to help you win
recruiter’s votes? Here are three ways to get that job.

 Short listing. This sifts out the people who are just applying indiscriminately
without the right qualifications and experience. In the TV show, it’s here we see
the wannabes, the people who can’t sing but just want to meet some VIP in the
 Interview. Like the TV series auditions, we first see the person perform here.
We get a fleeting sense of their personality and the opportunity to spot the
talented ones.
 Final selection. The boot camp and live show stages of the TV show are akin
to recruitment’s second interview or appraisal centre stage. The stakes are
raised, the pressure is on. By now the candidates have all shown they have what
it takes to do the job, but this additional selection process allows the winner’s X-
factor to set them apart.

1. Let your talent shine through
Everyone from sports psychologists to neuroscientists seem to be wading into the debate about
whether natural talent exists. On one side of the argument is the idea that you are born with a
natural ability to do certain things – hit a tennis ball, come up with a new law of physics etc. The
other side says that you acquire talents through shear hard work and hours of practice.

The truth is probably, as ever, somewhere in the middle. Our genetics and family history probably
set us up with certain physical traits and engender the love for specific activities. And let’s not
forget the importance of a support system that provides lifts home from swimming club, piano
lessons, clean football kit and all the many other factors that nurture talent and allow it to thrive.
On top of those foundations some of us then develop a passion, practise like crazy and
eventually start to reap results.

Recruiters for top level jobs want to hire talent. They are never going to
pick the person who is mediocre. And yet many of us are uncomfortable allowing our
talent to shine. We are embarrassed to talk about personal success and the results we’ve
achieved. But in the recruitment game, being humble won’t get you a job.
 There is a big difference between being thrilled by your successes and
bragging about them. We can easily limit ourselves by worrying we will
appear big headed. But the exuberance of someone who has just won an award
is charming. The trick is to let this energy and emotion sparkle in an interview.
Be delighted with your national sales award, tell your interview panel how
honoured you were to be recognised for your hard work, let your enthusiasm

I was lost. no excuses. This is all about tailoring what you say to fit the audience. I hadn’t given them any evidence that I knew how to do what would be needed of me. flu. Whatever the application process. This sometimes seen as a risky strategy. Getting the balance right is key here. But as the TV show producers recognised. The scores at interview were what counted. It’s all about the performance Love it or hate it. too much gets in the way. Questions are developed to see if you fulfil what would be required of you and then you are scored to see if the answers you give meet or exceed those requirements. a bit of back story is good. covering letter or resume should all reflect the language that the recruiter is using. show you are resilient and resourceful and most importantly try to give something that connects with the recruitment panel. It doesn’t matter what I had written on my application form. and yet I didn’t show in the interview that I knew how to do it. Proper flu. if the company refers to ‘clients’ on their website. Practise your responses including for the obvious ones like why you want the job. So.  Most interviews will have set questions. make sure you connect from the start. brain numbing. The Head of Global Media for an international campaign organisation I had always admired. My husband had to pack my bag and pretty much carry me to the airport. Connection: Audience appeal wins votes In order to have the X-factor you will need to give a little bit of yourself. There are no retakes. Then I got flu. If you know interviews make you freeze it’s worth taking action. Many recruiters work on a points system in interviews. your energy here is key – you need to show you are an inspirational leader. A bit of adrenaline is useful. Tell your career narrative. where you see your career developing etc. 2. In an interview. application form. I’m not saying go on gushingly about your boyfriend and that holiday you had in Ibiza. your aspirations. . say what you did that helped them achieve that. It was second nature. you talk about clients in your application (not customers. I sailed through the first interview and got called to HQ for the second round.  Combat your nerves. I didn’t get the job. As Head of Global Media. interviews are all about your performance on the day. With my flu riddled thinking. service users or other similar terms). consider hypnotherapy to calm you down or talk to your doctor about anxiety. can finally understand why so many people die of it. In my old PR days I got an interview for what I thought was my dream job. I can still remember the question that threw me – “how would you plan a media campaign?” Planning media campaigns was something I had been doing everyday for years. being able to plan a media campaign was essential. Again. 3. If you are talking about your team increasing turnover by 150%. take a while to think what you would ask if you were interviewing for the job. Your CV. Unsurprisingly. I stumbled around trying to work out what they meant by what seemed a trick question.  Be able to explain your role in the success. but say how you learnt from them. but without the human side some candidates can appear like a perfect answer automaton. but full-on achey. Not a bit of a sniffle man-flu type flu. Over ten years later. be honest about your mistakes. This helps you connect with the recruiter and lets them know you will fit in.

talk as if you are talking to your peers. you haven’t been sent to the headmaster’s office. that really is the best advice in the world. she moved into journalism and PR. Having gained a PhD on cultural change. Just be yourself. The overall thing to remember about X-factor is that everyone has a different view of what it means to them. This is a job interview. let your talent shine through and you can’t go wrong. That means you really can’t fake it. Although aiming to work less and live more. On the author: Mary Anna is a coach and communications specialist. So when someone hears you are going for a job and offers the platitude ‘just be yourself’. offer some of your personality.  Speak the same language – make sure you connect with your written application  Speak adult to adult. Contact Mary Anna on maw@maryannawright. Don’t be cowered by some perceived hierarchy. she takes on a select number of coaching clients and is the Vice President for the International Coach Federation in or +353 (0)871171972 to find out more about career coaching .