The view from the other side of the interview desk

The interviewer: Susan Taylor, human resources director, Penguin Books Ltd The job: Graduate trainee

If someone is really passionate about what they've done, that really shines through. One young woman had spent time working in Africa, which a number of people do. She described the difficulties she'd had. But the thing that shone through was that she had made a success of a difficult situation. It demonstrated how she could bring that to her work.

Before the interview I would expect candidates to do some preparation. I want them to have read the information we've sent them about the vacancy and tried to understand what sort of qualities we are looking for. They should have done research on the company and visited relevant websites.

Sometimes people come to the interview with no preparation. I like to see people who have anticipated what we might be looking for. Another mistake is the master letter which says "I am very interested in..." and then quotes a completely different company.

Graduate trainees tend to be in demand and it's very annoying when a potential interviewee says that they'll only attend the interview if they don't get the other job they've applied for. It implies that we're second choice. It may be a little obvious, but it is also bad when people arrive late. We're often seeing 15 people a day with a panel of managers, who are very busy.

A lot of young people attend interviews who are a real credit to their parents and lovely people. But they're not at all commercial. They haven't thought about how to make a profit. You can love books but not be appropriate for us. We are a business, after all.

There have been occasions when people have been quite rude, like turning up late and not apologising. I'm not interested in the type of people who ask about reimbursing travel costs and holiday entitlement before you've even sat down. They give the impression of just being interested in themselves, not in the company.

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