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Companies failing Brit job seekers

British interviewers turn off prospective candidates

Key features:

  • 56% of people that have experienced a bad interview blame the interviewer
  • Reasons given include lateness, rudeness, sexism and even drunkenness
  • 43% of those who’ve had a bad interview turned down the job offer because of it
  • Company reputations on the line because of poor interview techniques
  • A third (34%) of job seekers want to fit with the company’s culture and values

4 October 2007, London: British businesses are making a bad first impression on job seekers, putting off potential employees with a lack of basic interviewing skills and losing out on talent, according to research released today by T-Mobile. The survey, of more than 2,000 people, found that 56% of those people who came away from a job interview with a bad impression of the company, blamed it on the interviewer, citing rudeness, lateness, sexism and even drunkenness amongst other reasons. 43% of those who had a bad interview went as far as to turn down their subsequent job offer.

Reasons cited for a bad interview experience ranged from the professional to the personal. 40% of people were asked questions that were completely unrelated to the job, over a third (35%) said that the interviewer was unprepared and nearly one in five stated that they didn’t like the company culture and values. Worryingly, 18% of interviewers were late, 16% were sexist, 7% were racist, 7% had bad personal hygiene and nearly 2% were drunk.

What candidates want

Despite their bad experiences, respondents were clear about what they do expect when they attend an interview – 78% want to see a pleasant working environment, 50% want a clear plan of career progression outlined, over half (55%) want to be asked intelligent questions relating to the job and over a third (34%) want to fit with the company’s culture and values. Interviewees also looked for qualities in the company that they think will give them workplace happiness – for example, 43% want to work with like-minded people.

First impressions count

“Interviewees are always under pressure to create a good first impression, but it seems that businesses need to feel a bit of that pressure as well,” says Mark Martin, HR Director at T-Mobile UK. “They should be passionate and capable of recruiting the right people with the right values or risk losing out on the best talent. Candidates are beginning to place a company’s culture and values at the top of their agenda, so businesses need to think about how these are expressed in an interview situation – or their reputation and brand could be on the line.”

Judi James, a leading expert in body language, image, workplace culture and communication skills, says: “In an interview situation, judgements are being made on both sides – this is a prospective candidate’s first experience of a company’s culture and values. It is just as important for employers to impress, because people will turn down job offers if they feel the company doesn’t take them seriously or treat them respectfully.”

James continues: “Interviews can be stressful and tricky at the best of times, but if you do find it going badly through no fault of your own then don’t panic. Keeping your cool and remaining dignified in an awkward situation will create a great impression and if the interviewer is that bad then you probably won’t want the job anyway.”

Judi’s tips for candidates who have a bad interview experience are:

  • Never allow yourself to become paranoid. Job-hunting can be an exhausting, demoralising experience but remember that it was the bad interviewer who failed to impress, not you. Avoid taking resentment, negativity or low-self esteem into your next interview.
  • Use the motivational phrase: ‘Cancel and Continue’. You had one bad interview – don’t think that speaks for all companies. Write it off to experience and re-boot your energies for the next opportunity.
  • If you feel you were the victim of prejudice then contact your CAB (Citizens’ Advice Bureau).
  • Be charming at all times. Maybe the company’s not at fault and you’ve just met their one bad apple.
  • However do remember you have rights – never feel railroaded into talking about subjects like age, marriage or children that could prejudice your chances.
  • If it makes you feel better, write a polite, professional letter explaining that you would prefer to be taken off the list of potential candidates for that job.

- Ends –

Case study

Kevin Moran, 29, an IT worker, had a particularly bad interview experience when he went for a role in IT support in the City:

“The interview was on a Friday afternoon, but I was surprised to find it was taking place in a bar. When I got there, it was really difficult to find the people who were interviewing me, as it was full of drunk city workers. When I eventually found them, I decided not to have a drink and began talking through my career history. I had to shout over the noise, and one of the interviewers kept going to the bar when I was still speaking, butting in rudely and talking about things that were completely unrelated. I hadn’t worked in the city before, and my experience was in smaller firms, and the other interviewer asked if I was ‘out of my league’. By this time, the first guy was so drunk he was mumbling. Embarrassed and angry, I decided to call it a day. I was annoyed that I made the effort for the interview, but never got a chance to talk about my experience and wasn’t taken seriously. Having experienced what my potential colleagues were like, I didn’t want to work for the company anyway.”

Notes to Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Ipsos MORI. Total sample size was 2,011 respondents aged 16-64. Fieldwork was undertaken from 27th to 20th July and 3rd to 5th August 2007. The survey was carried out via Ipsos MORI’s Online Omnibus.


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About T-Mobile UK

T-Mobile is one of the world’s largest mobile operators with more than 91 million customers worldwide and in the UK it is the network of choice for approaching 17 million customers, making it one of the largest networks.

T-Mobile has a range of innovative products and services such as Flext, a unique tariff with flexible pricing; U-Fix, a tariff that combines pay-as-you-go and a monthly contract and Web'n'Walk, which enables customers to surf websites on the move. T-Mobile's network coverage is among the best in the UK (over 99% of the UK population) with one of the lowest dropped call rates. It offers the largest worldwide Wi-Fi network, with over 1,000 HotSpots in business-friendly locations in the UK and 21,000 worldwide, and offers the fastest 3G network across the UK with speeds of up to 1.8mb per second.

For more information about T-Mobile UK, please visit

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