Amazingly in a recent report on the BBC website, 64% of respondents to an employment survey said that they know within 90 seconds whether or not they will hire the person they’re interviewing.  I can’t believe that people actually still do this.

So here’s an example of why you shouldn’t make an instant judgment about a candidate.


A candidate initially didn’t do very well during the course of an interview.  Yet, at the end of the interview, they were still hired for the job.  Why?

Well, generally at the close of an interview the interviewer will ask the candidate if they have any further questions.

This candidate had 3 great questions that they put to the HR Manager, who was sitting in on the interview with the Hiring Manager.  Apparently, the HR Manager struggled to answer these questions, which were…

  1. What are the company’s growth plans and strategy for the next 5 years?
  2. Why should I work for this business?
  3. What are the weaknesses of the company and how do you see this position contributing to strengthening them?

In this scenario, the HR Manager was put on the spot by the candidate, because they struggled to answer the questions.

However, it was the Hiring Manager who had the final say and they were impressed with how the candidate finished the interview.  The candidate was offered the job and subsequently started their new role.  Over the coming months, the candidate managed to stir things up by being challenging. They also helped the rest of the team and the hiring manager to grow and develop, particularly in their leadership and management skills.

There are many reasons why some people struggle in interviews and there are many people who are serial candidates who have perfected the art of being a strong interviewee. 


Having interviewed thousands of candidates over the years I’ve learned the following:

  • Sometimes the best candidates (and interviewers!) don’t make the best first impressions.
  • Doing well in an interview and performing in a job are two very different things.
  • Employees who push back can help to make less adept managers stronger by challenging the way things are done.

Just because someone isn’t very good at being interviewed doesn’t mean that you should write them off within the first 90 seconds of meeting them.  Give them a chance to settle into the flow of the interview, start with some easy ‘warm-up’ questions perhaps, and remember that an interview is a two-way thing.

Some employers just ‘pound’ the candidate with questions without selling the benefits of the role or the company.   The candidate should expect good answers to their questions just as much as the Hirer is looking for strong answers.


Purple House is a niche recruitment business specialising in the placement of HR professionals. Why not get in touch with us for an informal chat: 0117 957 4100.

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