This week I’m delighted to feature a guest post by Tim Vincent, author of NAIL THAT INTERVIEW.

It seems the younger you are, the less time you have and the more inclined you are to prefer nuggets of wisdom rather than frameworks or structured plans.

So I shouldn’t be surprised then that as a career headhunter and author of NAIL THAT INTERVIEW, who is asked for tips and pointers all the time my 17-year-old daughter Evie just wants a set of sound bites that she can easily absorb, share and indeed use herself.  She is going through her GCSEs this year and indeed the pointers she and her friends have been looking for have forced me to distill much of what I have learned into these small nuggets that they seem so hungry for.

I am pleased to share these nuggets which are actually pertinent to anyone and everyone who is serious about their career. One or more of them will, I’m sure, resonate with you given that here you are diving into blogs on Giraffe CVs.

They fit best under four headings:

  1. 7 Deadly Interview Sins (Things you must never do)
  2. 10 trickiest interview questions, and how to answer them
  3. 10 most important things to remember in interviews
  4. Advice on what to do if you don’t get the GCSE results you expected – i.e., how to market your qualities and personal skills


7 Deadly Interview Sins (things you must never do)

  1. Underestimate first impressions – they matter!
  2. Allow the interviewer to dominate / lead proceedings untested – it’s YOUR meeting
  3. Drop into ‘Interview Persona’ and pretend to be someone you’re not – authenticity works
  4. Fool Yourself Into Complacency – you aren’t as good at Interviews as you might imagine
  5. Simply sit there and Answer Questions – the interviewer isn’t listening!
  6. Allow anything that happens to upset you or throw you – interviews are all weird meetings, and most interviewers aren’t very good at them either!
  7. Forget to follow up – people like people that like them so go back with honest feedback.


10 trickiest interview questions, and how to answer them

Any candidate or client I have ever worked with knows how keen I am to stress that interviewing well is not about how you answer questions; it’s all about the questions you ask.

But despite my protests I’m always thrown this ‘tricky question’ ball so here are 10 of the more evil examples our candidates have had thrown their way:

  1. I don’t know much about you – what are the highlights I should be aware of?
  2. What was your biggest mistake in the last two years?
  3. When you make big mistakes why do you think you failed?
  4. Has failing taught you the limits of your ambitions?
  5. What are the one or two questions you’d really like to ask me but are too afraid to?
  6. What do you think I think of you so far?
  7. Why do you want to work for me?
  8. Why do you want to work for this company?
  9. Would you accept your CV is only average compared to your peers?
  10. Imagine you have been in post for 12 months and you’re failing what do you think may have gone wrong?

The next question is of course: How do I tackle them? Answer: Don’t answer ANY of these questions without using CAP.

Check – you understand

Ask – yourself how you use this question to deliver a story or example you have pre-prepared

Present – your answer in an illustrative way

All of these questions are clichés to varying degrees – they aren’t looking for the content of your answer rather they are testing your ATTITUDE.

So use CAP then you should aim to ask questions in follow up.


10 most important things to remember in interviews

First and foremost I’d recommend preparation for the interview as well in advance as possible. If you can overcome your impatience momentarily then more on how and what to prepare in my book: For the serious sound bite junkie however here are my top 10:

  1. Get your CV Nailed – you must take two or three printed copies with you
  2. Prepare 10 questions that are well structured prior to the meeting
  3. Practice delivering pre-prepared questions well in advance (use your partner or friend)
  4. Lead the interview by being the one who ASKS the questions
  5. When answering questions always use CAP
  6. Use the fact you are better prepared (than the interviewer) to allow you to sense all of the inflection, body language and between the lines sentiment to really understand the interviewer
  7. You can use humour to break through the formality though in moderation
  8. Be authentic and true to yourself. Don’t be the person that you think they want to hire – be YOURSELF!
  9. People hire:
  12. Following up costs nothing and adds a great deal to the interviewer’s ability to compound the good sentiment they picked up in the meeting – do it soon after the meeting.


Advice on what to do if you don’t get the GCSE results you expected – i.e. how to market your qualities and personal skills

Finally for teenagers like Evie embarking on the early phases of your careers here’s the advice I shared on this one:

  1. Don’t panic. Many of the best executives leading businesses today never realised academic stardom yet went on to huge success in almost all walks of life. Granted if you aspire to a career as a nuclear physicist or another such niche role then academics are foundations you cannot ignore however even these have rarefied examples of supremacy from those who didn’t nail school.
  2. Stay true to yourself. You need to be authentic, and your biggest asset will be your attitude – so decide what you are after and go after it determinedly – your attitude will help you through to the right meetings, and the right meetings will open the right doors.
  3. Think big. Just because you had a minor results setback doesn’t mean you are allowed to think smaller – try thinking even bigger than you were before – it’ll reset your attitude ad that is what people hire
  4. Never give in. It takes three ‘NO’s’ to get to a yes so get out there and ASK. Each NO brings you closer; each NO teaches you a little more to help fuel the progress to the YES!


Thanks to Evie and her friends for helping me get to the wood for the trees. I hope you found a nugget or several that helps you.



Tim Vincent will be speaking at Penguin Living Careers 360 on 11th September. Giraffe CVs can offer free tickets (worth £40 each) to the first 10 people who email

For tickets go to

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire is a professional CV writer at Giraffe CVs. She has 15 years of experience gained delivering interview-winning CVs and cover letters for professionals at all levels, helping individuals to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive job market.
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire

Latest posts by Lis McGuire (see all)