Job Interviews – When Perfect Isn’t Possible


Job Interviews – When Perfect Isn’t Possible

Starting your job search can be both daunting and exciting, at any stage of your career. When preparing for an interview, you can quickly find yourself flitting between excitement and worry in the blink of an eye.

A common misconception is that the objective in an interview is to convince the interviewer(s) that you are totally, absolutely, 100% perfect for the job. There’s simply nothing you don’t know, nothing you can’t handle, no reason at all for them not to hire you.

While there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with confidence and with feeling like you’ve got the skills required, going into an interview too determined to impress can lead to some easily avoided yet highly damaging mistakes.

You don’t need to be perfect in order to get the job you want. But here are two ways to make sure you’re being as good as you can be.

It’s okay not to know things.

‘Sell yourself’ is something you’ve probably heard countless times. And you should – to an extent. But when selling yourself, like when selling anything else, you won’t endear yourself to anyone by not being honest or attempting to embellish what you don’t know.+

If there’s something you’re not sure on, be honest and either ask the interviewer to rephrase the question or ask your own questions in order to gain a better understanding. And if you just plain don’t have an answer, there’s nothing wrong with admitting it and saying you’d be interested to learn more about that area in future.

If the thing you’ve got no experience in is essential for the job, then the job probably isn’t right for you in the first place. And if it’s only a small part of it, then there’s no sense risking your integrity trying to pretend. The interviewer may very well appreciate your honesty and your awareness of where your skills need sharpening – even if you’re not right for that particular role, you can at least start a professional relationship and potentially be considered for other roles elsewhere in the business.

Ask questions and show you can listen.

It’s common knowledge that it’s good practice to have at least two or three questions to ask during or at the end of an interview. You want to show your interest in the role, you want to find out if you actually want to work there, and (perhaps most importantly) it’s a chance to show that you’re able to listen.

The people interviewing you are most likely going to be people with whom you’re potentially going to be spending quite a bit of time, so it’s essential they know that you’re able to listen as well as talk. Showing you can listen is huge when it comes to building a rapport with your interviewer – if forced to choose between two equally capable candidates, interviewers will tend to choose based on who they felt the most personal affinity with.

Show that you’ve been listening throughout the course of the interview. Ask for more detail about something the interviewer mentioned in passing during the course of your discussion. The interviewer may also cover the answers to some of your prepared questions before you have a chance to ask them – if that happens, try and think of something else to ask instead.

Listen to the interviewer’s responses. Engage with them, take notes if appropriate and ask follow-up questions where possible. The questions you’re asking don’t need to be particularly deep or insightful, but they need to paint you in a good light and show that you’re able to take in new information and run with it.

No interviewer is expecting you to have everything figured out at this stage. So don’t put extra pressure on yourself by trying to tick every box. Stick to what you know, ask about what you don’t, and concentrate on making yourself seem like the sort of person who is open to and capable of learning new skills.

Saragossa are a talent provider specialising in the Financial Technology, Financial Operations and Data Science sectors. Our role is to match clients with high calibre candidates. Our work encompasses filling temporary contracts along with building permanent teams and resourcing projects. To find out more, please contact or call 020 7871 3666.