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Why Someone Who Interviews Badly Is Sometimes The Best Person For The Job

Author: Dwayne Kelly

Published date: 2018/08

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Interviews can be scary situations for even the most confident of people. You’re meeting someone you don’t know, who potentially holds your career future in their hands. In my 9 years of experience in the Recruitment industry, it is fair to say I have met a lot of people who interview very well. It is also fair to say there are ones I have met, who have NOT. So what is the difference between a good interviewee and a bad one? Let’s discuss!

The Good Interview

A good interviewee will always come prepared. They will know their CV back to front. This is demonstrated by being able to confidently communicate all the information that is written on their CV, and being able to answer specific questions they are asked in an interview without a moment’s hesitation. This could be questions around who they reported into, key projects, milestones or accomplishments.

They will have thoroughly researched the company they are interviewing with. When a recruiter asks the inevitable question, “Do you know much about XYZ Company?” a good interviewee will have at least done a google search, and familiarised themselves with their key projects and decision makers.

They will have prepared specific questions to ask at the end of an interview. If the interviewer has not answered these during the interview process, a good interviewee will have set questions ready to ask that will help them make a more informed, intelligent decision on whether that role is right for them. This could be to do with job title / description, culture of the business, company structure and progression etc.

They’re presentation will be neat and tidy and specific to the role they are going for. I am a huge advocate for this not being all about the suit, but being presentable for your industry. I have had candidates go to an interview in ‘high vis’ and work boots. However, I always suggested they are a clean set. You need your potential employer to visualise how you are going to potentially look when you represent their business.

The Bad Interview

Now that we have looked at what makes a good interviewee, let’s consider the bad kind! If a bad interviewee is the total opposite of the above, how can they possibly be better for the job? The answer is, for the most part, they’re not.

In my opinion, a candidate who doesn’t care enough to prepare properly, wear clean and neat clothing, or show any interest in the position or company they are going to meet, doesn’t deserve the job they are going for.

So, what are these ‘bad’ interview traits I am talking about that, as potential employers and recruiters, we look for in good (if not the best) potential employees?

You will notice above I have not discussed any sort of behavioural traits. Why? Because these traits are learned and can be adapted. Yes we all love a confident candidate, but please note, not all unconfident candidates are bad.

Having said that, the most common negative feedback I receive from clients is “the candidate was too shy,” or ” they were not outgoing enough.”

As individuals, when we are taken out of our comfort zone, we more often than not react in what can be perceived as a negative way. Nerves, jitters, shaking, sweaty brow, stuttering, the list can go on.

Why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s nervous cover!

How can presenting as nervous, shy or unconfident be a positive in an interview situation?

Firstly, it generally means that the candidate is not used to interviewing. They are outside of their comfort zone. This could be an indication that they have not been looking for a new role, or interviewing for many roles, showing they have been a stable employee which is a big tick for their potential employer.

Secondly, it could mean that they are simply a shy person, or suffering from anxiety, triggered by being put into a stressful situation. This does not mean they’re not a great employee. It often means the opposite. Shy people are generally diligent and process-driven, not easily distracted by social situations, and can otherwise have a calming effect on a boisterous group! Shy people can be a huge asset to an organisation.

Thirdly, as the old saying goes, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Unless that candidate chooses to tell you, you have absolutely no idea what is happening in their personal life that could be contributing to nervous behaviour. They may have had a fight with their partner just before they’ve left the house, received some bad news that’s thrown them, or they’re simply feeling unwell. All of those things are simply a part of life, and in no way an indication that they are an undesirable employee.

In conculsion

All in all, nerves are not a bad thing.

So, when interviewing in the future you would do well to remember the following. Look for the person who is the most organised, well-presented and knowledgeable. Not necessarily the person who feels most at home on the opposite side of the desk to you.

Happy hiring.


Dwayne Kelly is a Director of Fetch Recruitment, and the Manager of the Temp & Contract team. You can connect with Dwayne on LinkedIn here.