10 interview lessons from the X Factor auditions

Things are hotting up in the X Factor, with live shows about to begin this weekend. Love it or hate it, this show’s serious business, and there’s some serious lessons from the successful contestants’ approach to auditions that you can apply to your interview technique.

X Factor auditions and interview success

1. The audience loves a story

We’ve seen this one time and time again. And, while it’s true that you haven’t just been invited to an interview purely for your entertainment value (we hope…), there’s definitely something in turning your experiences into a story that helps you to relate to people on an emotional level. Every story has the same basic elements: an introduction, a challenge, suspense, a climax and a solution. How can you turn your answers to basic interview questions (such as “Tell us about a difficult situation at work”) into a spellbinding tale?


2. Sincerity wins hearts

In the X Factor and interviews alike, there is nothing more disarming than genuineness and sincerity. You don’t have to admit to all your failings, but (if you’re careful about how you frame things and stress above all what you have learnt from the situation), there’s nothing more winsome than someone who doesn’t pretend to be perfect. Be a positive, slick, edges-filed-off version of yourself – after all, who wants to be hired to have to be somebody else?

3. Look the part

The over-the-top costumes featured in the X Factor might not be what you need for an interview, but putting a good bit of thought into how you present yourself is vital. Think about how a typical person with the role you’re going for would dress – with class, professionality and perhaps (if you’re going for a role in something like fashion) originality or other qualities – and attempt to emulate them. Then take it up a notch in terms of smartness. If you’re short of cash, check out our tips on dressing for an interview on a budget here.

noughts and crosses

4. Keep warmed up

An X Factor contestant wouldn’t arrive to the audition without grabbing a glass of water and warming up their vocal chords, and equally you shouldn’t arrive at an interview without your brain switched on. If you have any hanging around to do, a good tip is to try doing something like a Sudoku to keep your mind active while you wait.

5. Avoid clichés

In general, you wouldn’t see a successful X Factor contestant singing another Whitney Houston number or Unchained Melody yet again. Likewise, in your interview and job application, try to avoid clichés. Take a look at LinkedIn’s list of most overused buzzwords if you’re in any doubt as to what these are.

6. You need to be able to do more than just sing

It’s not just enough for X Factor contestants to be able to sing. They need to offer the full package – personality, confidence and networking skills. If you think your CV and work experience history is in order, but there’s something else holding you back from bagging the interview, don’t hesitate to ask a trusted friend or even professional interview coach for help – after all, none of us is perfect.

7. Winning isn’t everything

Heard of One Direction? Who hasn’t. But actually, One Direction never won the X Factor – they only came third. Still the boys bounced back with a record contract from Simon Cowell and hit international fame. Don’t fret if you’re not offered the job in the first interview you go to – your lucky break could be just around the corner.

8. Don’t be afraid to show passion

Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to show genuine passion for something others may consider nerdy or boring. Like the X Factor contestants, in an interview situation you should leave all your inhibitions at the door and let all your passion and energy for the post in hand shine through to be considered for the top spots.

9. Learn from your mistakes

Listen to what the judges say at the end of each round/interview, and pay heed – these are the people who are in the best position to tell you what you’re doing right and wrong. You might not get invited back this time, but that doesn’t need to mean that you can’t get something out of the experience in preparation for the next opportunity. You should always ask for feedback, and listen carefully to what you’re told, although you should also bear in mind that…

10. The judges have their own story

The X Factor has its own fair share of controversial decisions, and it’s clear that the judges don’t always pick candidates based on talent alone. Personal experiences, inter-judge politics and even how they feel that day can all come into play. Interviews are the same. Don’t despair if you’re not chosen to go to the next round: if you and your interviewers aren’t the right match for whatever reason, it’s not always personal.

X Factor finalists and interviewees alike, JobisJob wishes you the best of luck.

Interview advice from the X Factor finals

Penelope for JobisJob

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