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Interview advice and preparation

Are you looking for advice on how to make a good impression at an interview? Are you wondering what questions the interviewer might ask, and where you can go to find more information about the company you are interviewing for? Being prepared will help to ensure you are confident during the interview process and practicing your interview technique help you to stand out from the crowd. In this guide, we provide tips and advice for performing well in an interview, along with some sample questions you might want to consider asking the interviewer.

Job interviews are one of the most important parts of the hiring process, and first impressions are vital as this will determine whether the interviewer wants to progress you to the next stages or even offer you the role. Being organised and prepared ahead of your interviews will help you to feel more in control and confident, characteristics that interviewers look for in a candidate.

Here are some essential tips and advice you can use to prepare for an interview.

Conduct research ahead of your interview

Consider the type of business you are interviewing with – are they privately owned or a public company? Have they won any awards such as Great Place to Work®, or do they have any accreditations? By taking the time to look into this and referencing it in your interview shows how interested you are in working for the company and may help you to stand out from the crowd.

Research their main competitors, how they are viewed on the market, and the structure of the corporation (especially if they are part of a larger group). Be sure to fully look into the services they offer, even if they would not impact your role directly; showing an interest in the wider company will only be viewed as a positive.
To really get a feel for the company, use all the resources available to you at this stage. Try not to limit yourself to the company website and look at additional sites such as  Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and even Facebook. These can all be valuable sources to gain insights into the company you are interviewing for.

Be prepared to ask questions

Always take time to think about what you want to ask the interviewer and what you want to get out of the meeting. An interview is a two-way process, so prepare some relevant questions that will benefit both parties.
  • Some common questions you could ask are:
  • What are the future plans of the company?
  • What are your company’s growth plans?
  • How large is the current team I will be working within?
  • Why has the vacancy arisen?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What advice would you give to succeed in this role?
  • What is staff retention like?
  • Do you have any training, study support or opportunities to pursue professional qualifications? 

You should also consider how to make the best possible first impression when attending any interview. Read our interview guide for detailed advice, but always keep the below in mind;

  • Stand and sit up straight. Positive and open body language will show the interviewer that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Arrive early to ensure you are relaxed and have time to compose yourself.
  • Offer a firm handshake and appropriate small-talk when entering the interview situation.
  • Remember to smile!

Interview structure and technique

Although interview styles tend to vary between companies, the structure remains relatively the same – you will meet your interviewers, give an outline about your experience and education. This will be followed by the main section of the interview, which usually involves the interviewer asking questions about certain situations you may be faced with and how you would handle them. This is your chance to showcase your skills and experience.

The interviewer may also want you to go into more detail about your past positions and, potentially, where you see yourself within the company. Always answer in detail and never give one-word answers.

Increasingly, interviewers are becoming more creative with their techniques and leaning towards competency-based questions that are specific to the behaviours required to succeed in that particular role and to let the individual’s personality show. You should be prepared to give examples of past situations you have faced and the outcomes you triggered, usually referring to the following themes:

  • Teamwork and/or leadership.
  • Problem solving.
  • Planning and personal organisation.
  • Interpersonal skills.

At the end of the interview, it is advisable to ask about the next stages in the process so you know what and when to expect a decision. Thank the interviewers for their time and close with another firm handshake.

Why not take a look at our full Interview Guide to find out what potential questions you could be asked, or contact one of our experienced Consultants, who will be able to provide advice and guidelines regarding every interview style.

Sample interview questions

It is impossible to predict exactly what an interviewer is planning to ask you – they might have a set list of questions, but equally they might change their angle throughout the interview depending on your responses.

However, there are some common questions you might be asked that it is worth preparing an answer for – below are some suggestions of how to tackle these.

  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?

Be ready to turn any weaknesses into strengths and use examples to support your answer. You should never suggest that you have no weaknesses – having flaws is only human, but it is how you present them that is important.

For example, you can find overcoming an issue difficult because you simply want it to be perfect, but you have found that creating to-do lists has really helped you stay on top of projects whilst completing them to the highest standard.

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?

Responses to this question should never become personal as it will inevitably look negative on you as a candidate. Consider reasons such as you are looking for a new challenge, want more responsibility, or feel that this company could offer you a better future.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

This can be a difficult question to answer, especially if you are going for a temporary position or are only just starting out on the career ladder, but be honest and show the interviewer dedication to your chosen path.

Do you want to be a manager? Perhaps you want to get some business experience abroad? It might sound far-fetched at this moment in time, but showing drive and commitment will only reflect well on you.

  • What have been the most significant achievements in your career so far?

Consider the skills that will be most desirable to the role and company you are interviewing for and use examples involving them. If possible, quantify your answers to really have an impact.

  • How do you handle conflict?

Provide an example where you can explain the steps you took to seek a compromise and settle the situation to achieve a positive outcome. This is a great chance to showcase your listening, interpersonal and leadership skills.

  • How do you perform under pressure?

Be specific to the position you are interviewing for but be honest with your answer – if you are going to enter a high-pressure role, there is little point in lying that you thrive in pressurised situations. You want to ensure that the role you accept works for you and by being honest you are more likely to find a role that suits your working style and that you are happy in.

If you want to go over some interview preparation or discuss potential questions further, contact our Consultants for advice and a confidential conversation. Alternatively you can check out our CV writing tips, interview presentation guide or our LinkedIn guide in our candidate resources here.   

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