Job Interviews: What Candidates can Learn from Guy Goma’s Case of Mistaken Indentity

So its been 10 years since Guy Goma became an internet hero after finding himself offering on-the-spot expertise to the BBC by mistake. A “Goma” was waiting in the main reception area of the BBC Television Centre waiting to be interviewed for a job as a Data Support Cleanser. At the same time, Guy Kewney, a British technology expert, was in another reception area preparing for a live television interview on the subject of Apple Computer’s court case with the Beatles’ record label, Apple Corps. The producer was sent to fetch “Kewney”, when she asked “Coma” if he was “Guy” he of course confirmed, causing an internet sensation of the case of mistaken identity. But this epically awkward moment has got me thinking, what are some of the best tips for thinking on your feet during an interview?

It’s safe to say, even after a decade, the internet hasn’t forgotten those famous anxious looks as the realisation finally set in what was about to happen. Goma originally arrived at the BBC with the intention of attending an interview for the IT department but was mistaken for a technology expert. He later admitted he had wondered why the questions did not relate to the data support cleaner role which he had applied for.

Thinking on you’re feet is a highly desired skill. It’s all about staying calm and thinking well under pressure, something we can all learn from our friend Goma as, even for the 2006, his comments were pretty much on point.

He said: “Actually, if you can go everywhere you’re going to see a lot of people downloading through Internet and the website, everything they want…it is going to be an easy way for everyone to get something through the Internet.”

So how can we take this example and use it next time we’re sat in front of our next potential employer? The secret is to be prepared so follow the steps below and you’ll ace it.


Yikes! Ok so being put on the spot can be extremely stressful. Take some deep breaths and while you compose yourself use the silence to your advantage. Long pauses that are used in the right way can imply control and ooze confidence.


Obviously this is critical so don’t rush ahead of the game. Listen to what they’re saying and don’t cut them off. When people get nervous they tend to just throw up a load of random information and forget where the pause button is. Try to interpret what it is they want you to respond and follow it through.

Have the question repeated

If you don’t understand the question ask them to repeat it. If anything this shows you are more interested and want to give the correct answer. Asking for the question to be repeated might trigger them to explain it in more depth to you and allow you more time to think of a response.

Divert and Summarise  

Try to think like a politician would, they’re always diverting the question away to something similar and that they feel they can talk about. If you do this though, remember to wrap it up. Extended answers are always a plus in interviews but when you’re not 100% sure what you’re talking about its good to keep it short and sweet.

Interviews are always going to be stressful and you can never really predict what it is they are going to ask you. So instead of asking yourself how well prepared am I perhaps the question you should be asking is how prepared am I to think on my feet.

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