The Job Interview – a unique insight comparing candidates

If you’re going to a job interview, wouldn’t it be great to be a fly on the wall and see how the other candidates fared? How they dealt with that tricky question, or how they handled a demanding and unexpected task? How did it compare with what you would have done?

Whether you are in a role that involves interviewing candidates, or are a candidate looking for a job, Channel 4 TV show, The Job Interview gives us a unique insight into the situation. Filmed in a set-up office where 2 recruiters interview up to 5 candidates, we get to see how each prospective employee deals with the questions and tasks thrown at them by the panel.

If nothing else, this provides ideas and inspiration for future interviews.

Evidently first impressions play a major part. There were a wide variety of roles filmed, and the appearance of candidates reflected that variety. Some were formal, some more casual or creative. However what really separated the wheat from the chaff were those who came in with confident introductions, handshakes and smiles versus those that twiddled with their hair, didn’t make eye contact, spoke softly, waffled or mumbled.
After that, it was down to how they handled themselves and dealt with testing questions.
In one case, job seekers for a PR firm were asked to list 3 major newspapers by order according to the highest circulation. All of them scratched their heads and gave it their best guess. Only one of them spotted the fact that one of the newspapers no longer existed.

In another, their industry knowledge was tested when they were asked to explain some technical jargon, list products and brands that they know, decipher abbreviations.

Candidates applying for a job in an events agency were given 5 minutes and a flipchart to prepare a presentation to ‘sell’ Liverpool. Some struggled to think of anything to say, others thought about their target audience (students) and pitched ideas accordingly. Whether or not they knew Liverpool well or not was irrelevant. It was how they approached it that counted. EVERYONE knows about the Beatles, the cathedrals, the ferry across the Mersey don’t they? But even if not, they could have made it up. The shops, restaurants, nightlife – every city has those.

The key is not to crumble under the pressure, but think about why the interviewer has asked the question. What are they testing? What are they looking for?

What made interesting viewing was how the interviewers were sometimes surprised with the answers they got. There were no ‘right’ answers, but lots of great ones. When 3 candidates were asked what superpower they would have, one said ‘be invisible’, one said ‘to fly’ and another said ‘Russia’. The interviewers were definitely not expecting that one and laughed out loud! In that instance, they offered the job to 2 candidates (including the ‘off the wall’ one) as they were very different, but both too good to let go.

Lessons learned?

For interviewees, keep your wits about you and prepare well for the interview – do your research

For interviewers, throw in some testing scenarios – what situations will the candidate need to deal with if they get the job?

If you’re interested to see the programme it’s available on Channel 4 – search for The Job Interview.