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Timer’s running: will you impress at your interview before time runs out?

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

You have a very limited time to impress your interviewer, and it's perfectly true that you have, at most, 15-minutes. If you don't beat the clock, don't expect to beat the odds.

"Why is that," you may ask? Basic human psychology. Consider it from your interviewer’s perspective for a moment: few want to interview prospective candidates—and fewer still are actually skilled at it—and the prospect of a long day of interviews doesn’t fill anyone with much joy. So, the quicker they can discount you as “no good”, the sooner they can start thinking about their lunch.

Remember that first impressions aren’t necessarily rational.

Yes, certainly, they need to employ someone to fill the role, but choosing from one or two people is much easier than from a dozen or more, and discounting people quickly is the surest way of whittling the numbers.

They may immediately start to lose interest in you because they don't like the way you are dressed, or the way you say, "Hello", or any other number of obscure reasons. So, it is important that you consider the first impression you will make before you arrive, and vital that you can adapt once you do.

This all before you even get to the first few questions. Even the most genial of interviewers will make career-altering decisions based upon your initial responses.

Get it wrong, and it’s an awfully long trek back up the hill.

Unless you are applying for the role of mind-reader, then you won’t know what, or whom, you will face on the day, so be prepared for all contingencies. Make a list of things that could cause you to slip up and, if you do make a mistake, know how to gracefully recover.

Here are some scenarios to get you started.

Consider, how you would answer these, seemingly innocuous, opening questions.

· “How was your journey?”

· “Did you have trouble finding us?”

· “How are you today?”

· And, of course, “Tell me about yourself?”

Why are these types of questions asked? Are they just chit-chat, or do they have a more targeted objective? If you can’t tell the difference, you are already in trouble. Quickly assessing your interviewer’s personality helps you identify the type of answer you should give. Remember, in a successful interview, there are no "insignificant" questions, but many damaging answers.

How will you manage an interviewer who appears to be in a bad mood?

Interviewers are subject to the same frustrations as you. Perhaps, they had a bad commute that morning, or an argument with a loved one … maybe they forgot their sandwiches.

How you will go about improving their mood, and so their opinion of you as a candidate? If they like you, your chance of getting the job rises exponentially. No one employs someone they dislike, so don’t give them the chance.

What’s your “plan B” if your interviewer isn’t very good at the process?

Just because someone is good at their day-job, doesn’t mean they are skilled interviewers. We all know managers without good people-skills. So, if they aren’t asking the questions that highlight your strengths, how will you open the door?

These are just a few things to get you thinking about the psychology of your interview. If you do it well enough, then you may beat out someone who has better technical skills, but less interview smarts.


Want more help on this subject? The next Interview-fit class is all about ensuring you make an excellent first impression. It is a more subtle strategy than you might think.

This is on-line class provides you with key strategies and tips that you can apply at any interview, as well as opportunities to ask me your questions.

If you this is your first time joining a class, then as a thank you, the standard class-fee of £20 is waived. That's right, completely free. Use promo code: 15-minutes at checkout. Limited Places!

Next available class: Making a great impression: the first 15-minutes of your interview.

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