Paper: How not to stuff up your job interview

Marketing people say that you have a maximum of two seconds to engage your target. Actually, they don’t have that quite right because that implies that the choices are binary – engaged or not engaged. Not engaged is not the same as resistant. So the choices are

– engaged i.e. the panel welcomes you,

– not engaged i.e. the panel is ambivalent but are open to being engaged, and

– resistant i.e. the panel would prefer it if you leave immediately but they have to be polite and go through a perfunctory process knowing from the outset that they will not offer you a job or invite you back for the next round.

Sometimes, the panel, or someone on the panel, has already decided you don’t have a chance. We cannot know why that is: it might be prejudice, it might be that the job has secretly been promised to someone else or it might be that someone on the panel thinks the post is irrelevant and no one should fill it.

But it might also mean that they have looked at your application and come to the view that you have not set the groundwork before you walk through that door; if this is the case you are likely to be met with resistance, even if you have managed to get that far.

Against that background, what questions should you ask at the time the interview is arranged, i.e. before you attend for interview? This is part of your research process. I can’t tell you that because every job in every company is different.