Every year 500,000 UK students graduate. Of these, 250,000 never enter the graduate workforce (Source, CIPD 2017). One of the key reasons for this is that no one has ever taught them how to interview. In fact, over 85 % of students and recent graduates find interviewing difficult /very difficult (source CV library). Interview failures can be narrowed down to six different categories:

1)    Preparation

2)    Are you applying to the right job?

3)    How much you want the job?

4)    Empathy

5)    Asking Questions

6)    Nerves

Man sitting in a cafe


Preparation is the first and most common reason for interview failure. If spent enough time researching, revising and preparing you will be more able to convey your skill set, show ‘want’, demonstrate empathy, ask relevant questions, and relax your nerves. Consequently, preparation affects all six categories for interview success, which is why it’s so often the fundamental reason for interview failure.

Research by the CV Library found that ‘the average person spends 36 minutes preparing for an interview’. This is not enough time to achieve the career of your choice. Take into account the years spent on academia and the time spent preparing for exams to put yourself in this position. Treat an interview like an exam, the more work/preparation you do, the likelier you are to pass.

In essence, to be successful, an interviewee must be prepared for any questions that are research-related, competency based, or industry linked. Slip-ups on these questions are definite red flags to interviewers who will interpret this as a lack of ‘want’, skill and preparation. Moreover, one must have an understanding of the company/industry so that he can ask intriguing and relevant questions. This will engage the interviewer and slide the interview into more of a discussion rather than a Q&A format.


Are you applying to the right job?

The second category (‘Are you applying to the right job?’) is all about whether your skill set matches the job specification. Research by Kate Purcell, Emeritus professor at Warwick University developed an occupational classification, which classifies jobs as one of three categories,

Experts: those in knowledge-intensive occupations that require them to draw on and use their specialist university knowledge and skills in their daily work. Examples include civil engineers, doctors, solicitors, physiotherapists and chartered surveyors.

Knowledge Architect: those in jobs that require them to interpret and deliver insights from data. These jobs are dominated by the industries of, Finance, Consulting, Logistics and Research.

Communicators: those who require interactive skills that may be based on interpersonal and communication skills, creative skills or high-level technological knowledge. Examples include salespeople, actors, account people, web-designers and marketers.

(source the conversation, 2018)

To ensure you’re applying to the right job, write down your skill sets and see if they’re compatible with the job specification.


How much you Want the Job?

The third category (‘how much you want the job’), is vital. Answering all questions correctly isn’t enough to secure a job. You must convey your desire for the job, company and industry in question. The problem here is that even though many interviewees will desperately want the job, they don’t know how to show their ‘want’ to the interviewer.

Nevertheless, expressing interest in a job can be demonstrated in many forms. Firstly, the depth of research will be a key indicator. Secondly, express parts job spec you are enthusiastic about. Thirdly, asking insightful questions about the role, company and industry will show a level of curiosity, which demonstrates your keenness to get the role. Finally, to make it abundantly clear you can say to the interviewer - ‘If you were to offer me the job tomorrow, I would take it!’

Employers only hire those how really Want the job. Make it abundantly clear this is you!



This part of an interview is whether the interviewer wants to work with you 5 days a week. It’s important to remember you’re being interviewed on your character as well as your performance. So, it’s essential to converse in a friendly manner, which you can achieve through simple traits of smiling, laughing (but not boisterously), or expressing extra-curricular activities you enjoy. If you give off the impressions of arrogance, boredom, pomposity or hot-headedness, you will not be accepted into the following rounds.


Asking Questions

The end of an interview is when the interviewer will always ask, ‘do you have any questions for me?’ It is imperative that you do! Leaving an interview without asking any questions will significantly lower the chances of you being accepted onto the following rounds. To look really impressive, you can categorise your questions into three divisions: The Job, The Company and Personal Questions. E.g.

Questions about the Job - What are the key priorities in the first few months of the job?

Questions about the Company - What are the biggest challenges you face right now? Or biggest opportunities?

Personal Questions - What your favourite and least favourite aspect of working here?

Use your imagination to ask great questions. Or download Graduate Coach’s interview course to get our 10 best questions to ask.



Nerves are often the most worrying factor as to why people believe they fail. Unfortunately, there is no cure for nerves; however, preparation and experience will allow you to control them.

It’s important to remember you are expected to be nervous, it’s only natural. Really go for an interview and battle against nerves rather than hiding behind them. Your interviewer wants to see that!



Remember very few nail interviews straight away, so it’s important not to take rejection too harshly. The more you do the better you become and the wiser you’ll be. We wish you well in the interviews to come.

Good Luck!!


Graduate Coach

We here at Graduate Coach would be delighted if you took a look at our website. Furthermore, our online interview course gives comprehensive and complete guidance on how to nail an interview!

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