secret meeting

July 21, 2015, by Laura Estrop

The Secret Interviewer – part four

By Jennifer Balloch, Employability Officer

Looking for some quick interview advice? You’re in luck! In the final part of our Secret Interviewer series, our interviewers share their stories about the best and worst answers to interview questions. We hope their stories will help you with your interview research and show you some tips and advice on how to ace that interview!  

First past the post…

“I was once interviewing for a science-based role in the research and development side of the business, I was asking candidates a mixture of competency and technical questions. I distinctly remember one applicant whose examples of team work, communication and positions of leadership, were all taken from her hobby of horse-riding; she didn’t mention science once. Although she had some great examples and her love of horse-riding really shone through, I would’ve liked to have heard a few more science based examples so that her love of science was demonstrated as well. She was a recent graduate and therefore would’ve had lots of examples from working on projects or coursework to share from her time at university. My tip for anyone who has an interview coming up would be to really think about who you’re applying to and to keep your examples as relevant as possible.”

“The thought of what questions to ask at the end of an interview and what not to ask, can seem quite daunting. The best advice I can offer is to not follow in this particular candidate’s footsteps. I asked that generic question; ‘Have you got any questions for us?’ at the end of a quite successful interview, the candidate responded with, ‘How many single men work here?’ While I hope she was attempting to make a joke, it unfortunately backfired and we did not offer her the job. Top tip, even if you made a connection at interview and felt it went well, always remain professional.”

Ya get me?

“A couple of years ago I was interviewing for a pharmacy role; I interviewed a number of candidates and one in particular stood out. He seemed to really know his stuff and he gave great examples, the only downside was at the end of each answer, he finished with ‘You know what I mean?’ I did understand what he meant, but unfortunately he came across as unsure of himself. I’d always advise candidates to maintain a positive and professional tone during an interview; you can make much more of an impact this way.”

What’s your biggest weakness?

Our final story comes from an interviewee who had a job interview a couple of months ago.

“The interview was going well; I had answered all of their questions and gave relevant examples. Then came the question, ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ This wasn’t a question I had really prepared for, I thought about it for a moment and was about to say something along the lines of ‘I’m a bit of a perfectionist’ when the interviewer said, ‘I really hope you don’t say what everyone says,’ to which I asked, ‘What does everyone say?’ he replied, ‘I’m a bit of a perfectionist.’ I laughed it off and responded, ‘Well, I was going to say chocolate!’ The interviewer laughed and said my response was very original. I ended up getting the job!”

Remember that it’s not always about your experiences, sometimes a personality or sense of humour (while remaining professional and in the right context, of course!) can set you apart from other candidates.

That’s it from our Secret Interviewers; we hope their stories have given you those all-important essential tips for interview success. Don’t forget that we still want to know if you have any interview tips or faux pas you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

If you need any help preparing for an interview or researching employers then make sure you visit our website to see our expert advice. You can always book an appointment with one of our careers adviser if you want to talk about an interview you have coming up. 

Photo: Antony Mayfield – Jim and Maddy in the Brilliant Noise Boardroom

Posted in Applying For JobsInterviews