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Interview advice and preparation

Every job seeker has the same aim – to find a satisfying and fulfilling role. There is no way to guarantee a successful interview process, but managing it successfully is a critical step. Here is an overview of our top tips for performing well at an interview.

  • Preparation

Preparing for an interview is one of the most important stages of the recruitment process; consider the following to ensure that you go to every interview relaxed and ready.

  • Research is paramount!

Consider the type of business you are interviewing with – are they privately owned or a public company? 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 wouldn’t impact your role directly; showing an interest in the wider company will only be viewed as a positive.

Use all the resources available to you at this stage. Don’t limit yourself to the company website – Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and even Facebook 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.

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

  • Stand and sit up straight, with open body language.
  • 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.
  • Don’t forget to smile!

  • Interview structure and technique

Although interview techniques tend to change between companies, structure remains relatively static – meet your interviewers, give an outline about your experience and education, followed by the main section of the interview.

A traditional interview will include a variety of questions regarding your experience, asking 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 contact. Thank the interviewers for their time and close with another firm handshake.

Why not take a look at potential questions you could be asked here, or contact one of our experienced recruitment consultants, who will be able to provide advice and guidelines regarding every interview style.

  • Sample interview questions

It’s 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’s 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’s 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’ve found that creating to-do lists has really helped you stay on top of projects whilst completing them to your desired 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’re 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 farfetched 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 seeking but be honest with your answer – if you’re going to enter a high-pressure role, there’s little point in lying that you thrive in pressurised situations as you will be found out.

If you want to go over some interview preparation or discuss potential questions further, contact our consultants for a confidential conversation and advice. Alternatively you can check out the rest of our candidate resources here

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