Another series of X Factor USA is currently airing on TV and with news that X Factor New Zealand will soon follow in its footsteps, I started to think about the whole premise of the ‘X Factor’. What exactly is it? And how does it translate in the career world? When researching for this blog I’ve realised my idea is completely unoriginal (see the other blog links below) but it does affirm that sometimes you can have all the technical know-how in the world but if you don’t have that something special, that almost indefinable quality, then a job offer you thought was yours can go to someone else. So, what exactly is the ‘X Factor’? Here I turn to those more knowledgeable than me:

The X-factor can best be described as an entrepreneurial spirit or a drive and enthusiasm that makes this person stand out from the crowd”  

Something a bit different, special, authentic or interesting about you and what you may have to offer  

Interviewers and judges often speak of an “X factor” when they consider a number of candidates for a single open position. In this sense, the term is used to stand for a certain undefinable quality that may promote one candidate over another in the eyes of his or her critics or examiners. This is something rarely included in a job description, but candidates who possess it are more likely to survive early cuts during the culling process

Right, so how do you show something that isn’t included in a job description but could be the key to getting you a great job? I love this list taken from

  • It could be as simple as offering an insightful observation or understanding of something occurring within your industry, or perhaps the state of the nation.
  • It could be the daring to hold your ground and disagree with what the interviewer says.
  • It could be the humility to admit that you have failed in the past, that you have weaknesses.
  • It could be the courage to say that you are outstanding at what you do.
  • It could be the way in which you explain an odd career history.
  • It could be the ability to smile, to laugh, to relax and have fun at the interview.
  • It could be the nerve to share a joke or a self-deprecating story.
  • It could be the self-confidence to interview the interviewers!
  • It could be the balls to put forward a radical solution to a problem.
  • It could be the honesty to say you don’t know or do not understand.
  • It could be the strength to challenge the status quo.
  • It could be being quirky or witty.
  • It could be showing a real passion and enthusiasm for your work.

Plus, bear in mind that “You will not get the right fit pretending to be something or someone you are not……the key to that is real self-awareness. You have to know yourself to be yourself. You have to be able to identify and play to your strengths. EQ (emotional intelligence) is the new IQ”

 We all want to advance to boot camp so take some time to read through the other blogs and make those interviewers pick you as their winner.

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Career advice, Interview, Leadership


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