The Definitive Interview Preparation Guide
Research the company
- Whilst the consultant can give you information on the company, the role and the interview format to help you prepare, you'd be wise to do as much of your own research as possible.
- Start with the company's website. Learn about their history, products and services, locations, partners and recent news releases.
- Read additional news articles online and find out about their competitors and developments in the market that may have an impact on their business. Consider speaking to someone in the same company or industry to get the inside scoop.
- Finally do research on the person you're meeting, including their background, and any articles they have contributed to.
- You will come across as prepared and knowledgeable and you will be able to ask more informed questions and getting a deeper perspective on your potential employer.
- Do your research a few days in advance so you go into the interview with a clear head and focus on the interviewer instead of trying to remember endless facts and figures.
Understand the role
- Make sure you understand how the role traditionally fits into an organisation.
- If you have a good, basic understanding of the role you will be able to ask informed questions and get more detailed information.
- Read through the job description and know where your role will fit into the organisation
Understand your CV
- Expect the interviewer to do a CV walkthrough so spend some time going through your CV to ensure you are familiar with your history and timelines.
- Be prepared for any technical questions that could arise from reviewing your CV in addition to your motivations for changing roles.
Be prepared for behavioural questions
- As a guide, think about things like your proudest achievement, your biggest challenge and how you overcame it, a time you reacted dynamically or a time you had to resolve a conflict with a customer.
- When answering these questions, make sure you are very specific about your involvement.
Prepare your own questions
- Prepare questions that are appropriate for the person you're interviewing with. You might ask an HR manager about career progression, staff retention, employee training, the culture of the organisation and management styles. Whereas you might ask a CEO about strategic growth plans, financial performance, and investors.
Know where you’re going and arrive early
- There's nothing worse than rushing for an interview or turning up late. Its very difficult to get back on the front foot after a poor initial impression. Print out a map, get directions, find out whether there is parking and aim to arrive 10 minutes early.
- If you're going to be late, make sure you let the interviewer know.
- Conversely do not turn up too early. If this is the case, take a moment to collect your thoughts and relax.
Dress and Presentation
It is very important to impress at first sight. This means that the way you look has a big impact on how the interviewer will think of you.
FEMALE: Always dress corporately for an interview, have natural makeup, neat hair and nails and close-toed shoes. If you wear a skirt, make sure that you wear skin coloured stockings and that your skirt comes over or on your knees. Avoid smoking before an interview.
MALE: Always dress corporately for an interview and make sure that your grooming is impeccable. Wear a dark suit, shirt and tie and clean shoes. Avoid smoking before an interview.
Attending the Interview
You have to sell yourself before you can sell anything else and the first 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether they like you or not and whether you will fit into the team.
- Stand and sit up straight
- Make constant eye contact and smile
- Always greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and say "Nice to meet you …………., thank you for taking the time to see me."
- Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room
- Smile and be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet. You'd be surprised at how many candidates are declined because they were arrogant towards a receptionist.
- Remember and use peoples names when you talk to them. If you have difficulty remembering names, concentrate when you meet someone for the first time and repeat their name immediately.
- Match you interviewers body language. If they lean forward or cross their arms, do the same. If an interviewer is leaning forward to engage you and you're sitting back with your arms crossed, there's a fair chance you're not doing a great job of creating rapport.
- When you leave the interview once again give a firm handshake and exit by saying "Thanks again for this opportunity, I look forward to speaking to you soon. Have a great morning/afternoon."
- You should prepare in the same way as for a face to face interview to get yourself in the right mindset.
- Find a quiet room where you will not be disturbed.
- Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted.
- Make sure your phone is charged and you are in an area with reception.
- Have a fresh glass of water nearby.
- Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
- Speak slowly and clearly. If in doubt, check the interviewer can hear you clearly.
- Keep your resume in clear view, on the top of your desk, so you are able to answer questions.
Common Interview Questions
Preparing for any interview is always a stressful process, however, prepping yourself on questions that could be asked will always be beneficial. We have put together a list of some of the more common questions that are asked during an interview.
Make sure you read through them and prepare your responses. Click here for common interview questions.
Questions to ask in your interview
In any interview, you should always ask at least three to five intelligent questions...
- What are the key challenges of the position?
- What does success look like to this role?
- What is the overall structure of the department I would be working in?
- How do you like to manage?
- What differentiates your company from its rivals?
- Is there any travel involved with the position?
- What sort of induction training is offered?
- Are there any special projects I will be working on?
- To whom will I be reporting?
- What is your philosophy on training?
- What long-term career opportunities are available?
- What are the company's growth plans?
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- Why do you enjoy working for your company?
- What opportunities does the position provide for personal growth?
- What system do you have in place for performance and salary reviews?
- What is the next step in the interviewing process?
- What are the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
- How do you see this role developing over the next two years?
- What are the three most important things you are expecting this person to deliver in the first year?
- Pick up on comments throughout the interview about which you can later ask
- Questions, i.e. ”You mentioned earlier that a new Finance Director has recently been appointed…how has this impacted on the rest of the team”
- Look on the company's website for any news. This can form a great basis for asking topical questions and also demonstrates that you have kept an eye on any recent company developments, for example:
- “I notice that you've just opened a new office in Manchester, is this part of a wider expansion campaign”
- “I notice that you've recently become part of ABC Group, what impact will this have on the company going forward”
- How do you react to criticism?
- Can you accept criticism for poor work?
- Describe a time you failed
- What causes you to lose your temper?
- Do you really feel that you have enough experience for this role?
- Do you think you may be overqualified for this role?
- Why have you decided to change careers?
- Why have you changed jobs frequently?
- Have you ever been fired?
- What if I told you that you'd work very hard, but recognition of your contributions would be nil?
- How long would you expect to remain with this organization?
- What salary are you expecting?
- Are there any questions you were expecting that we haven't asked?
- Tell me about your diary commitments from Monday to Friday of this week?
- How would you describe your work style?
- Never leave an answer with just a yes or no... always elaborate on answers.
- Never criticise yourself or your former employers (no matter how bad you think you are going or how miserable your last work experience was).
- Don't expect your resume to win you the job alone, you will need to communicate why you are the right person confidently, concisely and enthusiastically to the interviewer(s).
- Don't be too informal (even though the interviewer may have put you at ease) remember that it is an interview.
- Never answer “no” when asked whether you have any questions that you want to ask. If the questions you have prepared have already been answered you should try to make up new ones.
- Don't over apologise if you are late for example, apologise once. If you don't know the answer to something, don't apologise, answer by explaining how you would go about finding an answer.
Post Interview Tips
- After each interview, try and obtain as much feedback as possible about your performance.
- Ask for confirmation on understanding and feedback on what the next steps will be if you're successful. Suitable questions include;
- Do you think my background is suitable for the role?
- Is there anything I can clarify?
- How do I compare to other candidates you've spoken to?
- What is the next step?
- Who makes the final hiring decision?
- Do you think my background is suitable for the role?
Our consultants will always try to obtain as much feedback for you as possible. Keep a note of any feedback so that you can refer to it when preparing for future interviews. Always call your consultant after the interview to feedback.