After my very worst interview ever, I felt so embarrassed, I wrote to apologise afterwards.
I was completely unprepared, studying for a degree part time, drinking a lot with my new uni buddies and just on the right side of 30 – such that I could stay up all night, work, drink and get through what I needed to do. Or so I thought.
End of term was coming so I had been up all night doing a piece of coursework, fuelled by a lot of instant coffee and cigarettes and I filed the work. Just.
Then I showered, got ready and went for the interview. I desperately tried to gen up on the company in a cab on the way. But the internet wouldn’t load and I couldn’t get anything on my phone about them. I went in with nothing, hoping I could talk my way out of it.
So I’m in the interview giving them platitudes and very generic answers. I could clearly see they weren’t landing.
Then I got the “Why do you want to work for us?” cue, generic answer from me and the interviewer rightly interrupted me, “No but why do you want to work with us?” Reader, I had nothing to say. And actually now as an interviewer, this is probably the question I take most personally when I find a candidate is unprepared. That interview ended pretty abruptly and, like I said in the intro, I wrote to apologise afterwards. Cringe.
Nerves have been a big issue for me in the past, and I am not a natural at small talk. One interview I had saw the interviewer say that she found it hard to keep the interview going because there was no small talk. I have a different view on this quite honestly, as an interviewer I am mindful that people might be nervous and I try to help them relax with a few easy small talk questions but you can’t expect the same from all interviewers.
I’ve had one lady not even smile whilst her colleague interviewed me and she didn’t have one single question for me.
I’ve got a job before because the interviewer liked an image I put together for a mini project. I got a job at a very crap company after just one interview…
So what’s the point of this blog? A few recommendations:
- Prepare – be able to talk passionately about why you want to work there. Find out as much as you can about the company, culture, expectations, products, competitors, customers…
- Be able to relate those findings to your skills – it’s not enough to know everything about them, much more useful to also be able to say how you could help them and highlight the skills you have which might be unique to you
- Have some small talk – interviewers can be nervous sometimes – I remember trying to impress a new boss and properly grilled a candidate so much so he nudged me and showed me his notepad – “haven’t you grilled er enough yet?” Awkward! Sometimes interviewers don’t know what they’re doing, don’t make great decisions and don’t enjoy interviewing
- On that note, try not to take things too personally. The interviewed me and said I didn’t have small talk was outside smoking and gossiping for a full hour before my interview – at about 3-4 in the afternoon. I know this because I sat in a nearby pub preparing.
- Sometimes it’s not your time or a business is not a good fit for you. Move on, keep trying and you will find something that is a good fit.