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Common Interview Feedback And What It Means

InterviewsEmployability

If you're unsuccessful at interview then the most precious thing you can reap from the situation is interview feedback. The lessons from this self-improvement opportunity are vital so take note as we cover some classics...

You've gone for an interview. You're not sure how it went. Then, a week later they call you to tell you 'unfortunately, you were unsuccessful', but they do give you some feedback on your own performance. Understanding what your feedback means and then acting on it in your next interview is crucial if you want to succeed in finding a job. Here are some common pieces of feedback and what you can do to make the most of the constructive criticism.

"Some of your responses were rushed, vague and didn't answer the question..."

This can be improved by practicing composing yourself before replying. Take a moment, even up to 3-5 seconds before replying if you need to. In your head think about the main point you want to make in your answer first, and then follow with an example of when you demonstrated it. Practice delivering it in the simplest way that still contains all the information needed for it to be understood and positively relevant. A shorter and concise answer is often far more effective than feeling like you have to say a lot, which could result in rambling and going off topic by mistake. This is a very common side-effect of nerves and we all get it! Practice makes perfect.

"We didn't feel like you had enough experience..."

Work experience is a hot topic with employers and if you are up against someone better qualified or experienced than you getting the job can be tricky. The simplest way to target this piece of feedback is by securing more work experience placements. This in itself can be a challenge, however perseverance is key. The more work experience you have under your belt the more you'll have to draw on when you give answers and back up your claims. The "un-official" ideal figure for work experience is two years, so the more the better, but of course employers will look at academic and extra-curricular achievements as well as work experience at interview.

"You lacked enthusiasm for the role and knowledge of the company..."

Arriving at interview with limited knowledge of the company you are applying to is not a wise move. The interviewers need to see that you are interested in the job and the business as a whole. They need to know that it's that job you want, not just any job. Even if you do know your stuff about the role and the company you need to make sure your knowledge and enthusiasm comes across. If you don't seem keen or dedicated there is a good chance another candidate will outshine you in that department so make sure you answer questions with an appropriate degree of passion.

"Nerves seemed to get the better of you..."

It's only natural that you will be nervous when you have an interview, but try not to let it hinder your performance. Nerves can make you seem unconfident or introverted which won't appeal to the interviewers and potentially indicate that you wouldn't fit well within a team of confident characters who need the same kind of energy in return. To try and combat your nerves run through as many potential answers as you can before the interview and take a few deep breaths to organise your thoughts before you reply to questions. Try and see the interview as an informal chat rather than an intimidating or challenging environment, but make sure you maintain professional formality in your words and body language.

We felt your enthusiasm seemed forced at times.

This means one of two things; that you were nervous and therefore overcompensated by talking too much in a non-constructive way. Or, it can mean that you came across as arrogant. At interview it is important to build rapport with the interviewers. Even if your skills and experience make you a strong candidate you need to display humility, demonstrating that you will be capable of being managed or, further down the line, be a good manager yourself. Confidence is fantastic and not something to be ashamed of, just make sure you do not overdo it.

Some of your answers lacked the depth and detail we required

Whilst waffle needs to be avoided, too short answers are also a turn off for employers. It looks like you don't have enough to say, even if this is far from the truth. To make sure you give enough detail try using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) technique when drawing upon relevant experience or projects. Graduates tend to do only the S and T but to give a successful and complete answer you need to go into more details in terms of the process, for example the techniques or software implemented. Where possible quantify i.e. handled 2 000+ data points and highlight achievements i.e. achieved highest grade on course.

The key thing with any feedback is to listen, implement the advice and don't take a rejection personally. If you don't agree with their comments then maybe the company wasn't a good match for you anyway. However, seeing the interview as a learning curve will only be of benefit. If you can apply their feedback to your next interview and learn from your mistakes then you'll increase your chances of success next time round.

Have you had any experiences with particularly useful feedback? We'd love to hear your stories...

anna pitts grb author

Anna Pitts studied English Language at the University of Sussex and was a marketing assistant and online researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. She now works in Marketing and Advertising for Hearst Magazines UK.

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