Q: The interview was going fairly well, I felt. I had handled their queries well and had even managed to score some extra points based on the research I had done into the organisation. Sooner than I had anticipated, they asked me if I had any questions for them. I hadn’t, and took this question as the cue that they were wrapping things up. I made to leave, and they let me, replete with the usual ‘thank you and we will be in touch’ palaver: it was only afterwards I realised that maybe they had more questions to ask me. Was I premature in my departure? In fairness, they did get in touch – a Dear John, alas. (GP, email).
A: Without being there, it’s difficult to be definitive, but you may well have been a touch too hasty in making your exit.
It’s all about expectations. Interview candidates generally expect the ‘have you any question for us’ question to come late in the day. It’s a logical concept: at that stage, they would have exhausted all of their questions and would want to see if they can help you with any particular queries.
But interviews are not always logical. The interview panel might not have been organised or prepared and one of them may have lobbed in that question as a way of filling an uncomfortable silence. In that scenario, it might well have been that they had more questions to ask you, but interpreted your haste to depart as a sign that you’d had enough of the interview.
As I said, it’s hard for me to diagnose from distance, but I would make this point: stay in an interview as long as the interview panel want you to stay there. Let them bring the curtain down, not you. Present yourself as someone happy to sit there promoting your candidature to the end of the allotted time.
Did you learn overall from the experience of doing this interview? We learn by doing: it is only by embracing the lights, camera, and action moments that we can fine-tune our interview style. We have a very useful document for helping you to assess how you did – independent of the result. If you email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with Interview Assessment in the subject line, we will send it onto you.
It is possible that you did a great interview – but someone did a better one, or had greater experience, or – let’s not be naïve here – knew someone who knew someone. It is important that you learn how to evaluate your performance in every interview, whether you got the job or not.
Convince with real evidence
Q: Should I bring a portfolio to the job interview? I’m a graphic designer and have done a lot of work. But I feel a portfolio could be overkill? (AD, email).
A: Take an edge where you can find it. Your work is the best possible evidence of your ability. Leaving it outside the door is akin to leaving a good witness at home – and then wondering why you were convicted in the wrong.
Bring your portfolio. Put your best foot forward. A presentation, portfolio or hand-out endures long after you’ve left. It shows confidence and enthusiasm.
Even if they never look at it (and I’d wager they will study it) they are likely to be happy that you went to the trouble.