The 90-Second Interview – Part 2

4 October 2016
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Non-verbal mistakes may well hold pole position when it comes to interview blunders. In any case, nobody wants to hire an unsmiling, closed-off, shifty-looking candidate. However, you can sit there with perfect posture all you like – but if you can’t talk the talk, your interview is terminal from the start.

After all, it’s been proven that a hiring manager is likely to mentally hire or fire you within no more than a minute and a half.


So how can you talk your way into interview victory – and what should you avoid saying at all costs?

Over-explaining why you lost your last job

It doesn’t matter if you were made redundant, ran out screaming, or were kicked out the door – if you go overboard trying to explain why you left your last role, you will sound as though you are trying to cover something up. “I was made redundant” is plenty adequate as an explanation, as is “I realised I had learnt all I could learn there” or “I need a fresh challenge”. Keep it simple.

Showing you’re not over your previous job

It might be because you loved it, or it might be because you’re bitter over how it ended. Whatever the reason, acting as though you have unfinished business with your previous company is not a good basis for an interview. A new job is a fresh start, so embrace the opportunity in front of you.

Lacking warmth/humour/personality

Speak with a smile, for goodness’ sake, and don’t be afraid to be yourself! If you’re jittery, that’s understandable, but don’t let your nervousness make you appear aloof or cold. Engage with your interviewer. Don’t keep all your conversation boring or completely job-related – let your personality shine through. People buy into people, and you’ll be halfway there if you are likeable from the off.

Doing inadequate research

If you haven’t done your homework, don’t even bother attending the interview. It will show! Talking confidently about the job, the company background, their peers etc. is imperative to interview success. Learn the key facts about your prospective employer, and not just from their own website, but others – including the business and news sites. Even if they don’t come up in conversation, having a few nuggets of information ready to fire will do wonders for your confidence.

Lacking interest or enthusiasm

Nobody will hire someone who doesn’t appear to want the job.

Be sure to show that you’re keen on the role, and explain why. The more enthusiasm you show (within reason, of course) the more likely they are to hire you – show them the fire in your belly and your passion! After all, ambivalence won’t inspire too much confidence in your ability to do the job, or even to remain in it. Your prospective employer is looking to see that you’re keen, as well as qualified. Don’t let yourself down here!

Over-egging the pudding

There’s enthusiastic, and then there’s desperate. If you’re interviewing for your dream job, then great – that’s a fantastic start, but a tinge of desperation is likely to set alarm bells off for your interviewer, and they may start questioning exactly why you are so keen. Try to strike a balance, and keep it on the side of enthusiasm, rather than over-the-top-interest.

Trying to be everything for everyone

You could be the best multi-tasker any team could ask for, but the fact remains, everybody has their weaknesses, and you will be better at some things than others. Don’t make out you’re an expert in every field, and definitely don’t promise to become one. You will be respected for your honest appraisal of what you can do well, and what you are interested in doing well. You don’t need to be everything for everyone – “I can do that!” is a phrase to use sparingly.

Winging it

If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t bluff your reply – unless you are making a very educated guess. If you are obviously winging your way through the interview, it’s likely to give an air of unpreparedness, and worse still, untrustworthiness. Always approach an interview with as much background knowledge as you can muster, as well as keeping a solid interview technique at the forefront of your mind. A well-constructed argument is always a winner in a Q+A conversation, so don’t be nervous in taking time to consider your responses – as any politician or public speaker would do.

Not setting yourself apart

This interview phenomenon is also known as “sinking into your chair”. Don’t be tempted to do this. Sit on the edge of your seat instead (figuratively speaking.) You want to be remembered for all the right reasons. Even if you do nothing wrong in your interview, a forgettable performance is unlikely to yield a job offer. Be memorable – alert, prepared, knowledgeable and smart.

Not asking for the job

Finally, cap off your job interview with a summary – and make sure it lays out exactly what you want! Express your interest in the position, and let the hirer know that the interview was a success from your perspective.

And, most importantly, always say thank you! Manners cost nothing – but could get you everything.


NB: This blog is to give you our take on how quickly judgements can be made in an interview – and how to make the most of a first impression! However, for a more comprehensive overview of interview conduct, please visit our tips page:

The 90-Second Interview – Part 2