No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

What is your experience of the good, bad and ugly of interview performance?


I am preparing a course on "How to Succeed At Interviews". What I would really appreciate are some *real life* examples and anecdotes of both extraordinarily impressive performance and those who made less than brilliant impressions (what precisely gave them away?). Please provide some context for each story. These will be used annonymously to illustrate the course content.

Many thanks for your help.
Emma Westwood

3 Responses

  1. Bird Watching
    ABout 10 years ago, having taken redundancy, I had about 3 months out, before getting back into a job search. Anyway the ideal job came up and I was whisked off for the first interview which went well, and was asked to prepare a 15 minute presentation which was to be delivered 1 week later to the senior sales managers, HR, and Training (inc the person whom I was replacing). I prepared like crazy, and went into my presentation relaxed etc etc. I had a debriefing afterwards with HR, who were concerned that I did not seem nervous enough (they thought I was just using this second interview/presentation as practise for some other job). I said I was deadly serious, I knew I was up against someone with a lot more training experience than me (this was a job training sales people in UK and USA), and explained I had deveoted a lot of time to getting it right. I was then debriefed by the person whom I was replacing, she also said that I seemed far too confident. Anyway I got the job, and was inducted in the USA. On my return to UK, I went to see Michelle who was the previous sales trainer, and asked, what had swung it to have me as the first choice given the competition for the job was tough. The answer was ‘When I asked you what your hobby was, you said BIRD WATCHING, and I thought, that is so off the wall, you will fit in here pretty well’.

    What did I learn, just be yourself, prepare for interviews, but alway answer the crazy questions truthfully.

  2. A reply which the question deserved…

    Many years ago, I had to recruit several YTS trainees to the organisation in which I was working. In those days the Manpower Services Commission (who oversaw the YTS programme)gave you a list of questions which you had to use for interviewing applicants.

    During one interview, I asked one applicant the old chestnut of a question: “If I was to speak to a close friend of yours, what one quality would they say you had?”

    She thought about the question at some length before replying: “Well, I think they’d say I had a nice body…”

    A peurile question that got – unwittingly – the answer it deserved!

  3. Some examples for past participants of mine
    I ask participants to share their past experience of interviews at the beginning of the session. I’ve heard the following (first hand!)

    – One interviewer was running late and when the interviewee arrived they grabbed the documents and rushed to the interview. She said hello etc to John and she then took him through his CV and mentioned that she had been to the same university. She took him through his first job as a web designer and then asked him about his second job with ‘ABC Ltd’ – but he said that he hadn’t worked at ABC Ltd. It then came out that his name was actually Paul, that wasn’t his CV, and he had never been to university – though he had been a web designer! This was about 15 minutes into a 45-minute interview!

    – Another participant told me that the female interviewee came in wearing a huge bizarre hat (a web designer) and that all they could focus on was the hat. They were so off put and kept wondering if it was legal to not recommend a candidate because of their outfit! Surprisingly the candidate did make it to the second round because the interviewer wanted someone else to interview them – but they didn’t get the job!

    – A Dutch female participant told me that, as a candidate, the male interviewer had asked her where she was from. She told him that she was from Amsterdam – and the male interviewer leered ‘oh, they are very liberal in Amsterdam aren’t they….?

    – On a positive note, another participant told me after the course that he had had a really worthwhile interview with a candidate because he could now apply behavioural questioning and probing. Rather than taking the candidate’s comment at face value, he probed further and found out that the candidate had never actually done any of the things he claimed to on his cv – but he had watched someone else do them and claimed that he knew how to do it. The candidate was not hired but the participant recognised that he had hired other candidates in appropriately in the past and that was why he had a few problems in his team.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!