Some of the best candidates fail at interview stage because they do not prepare and don’t know what to expect. The better prepared that you are the more confident you will be.

  • Ensure that you have researched the company that you are being interviewed at well. Look at their website, order their brochures, check to see if they are part of a larger group of companies. If the opportunity arises you will be able to demonstrate interest in the company.
  • Dress to impress! Always go for smart and professional rather than trendy.
  • Plan your route and allow plenty of time to get to the interview.
  • Be aware of your body language. Crossed arms for example indicate hostility or a barrier. Adopt good posture and make sure that you smile. A firm handshake on meeting is essential to inspire confidence and assertiveness – practice if you need to!
  • You must be able to back up and expand on your CV information rather than simply repeating what is written, a good interviewer will probe these points. Take a copy of your CV with you – it will make it easier if you can refer to it as well.
  • Transferable skills are the most important factors to highlight
  • Communicate as positively as possible and try not to use weak answers, for example “I can” instead of “I think I can”.
  • Be confident and outgoing but don’t constantly interrupt the interviewer
  • Do not answer in single syllables i.e. yes and no but at the same time keep to the line of questioning don’t ramble and go off at a tangent.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask don’t guess.
  • Always prepare some questions to ask at interview in advance, some examples are shown below. Write them down in a small notebook and take a pen with you too.
  • At the end of the interview always thank them for their time and remember to keep smiling.

Examples of Typical Interview Questions and Ways to Handle Them

  • How would you describe yourself? This is a classic opener that can really throw you. Plan ahead by having a presentation statement to cover this.
  • How would your current manager describe you? Handle questions about personality carefully. Rather than say “I’m an ideas person”, talk about a time when you changed things with a good idea.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? If your answer doesn’t ring true for you, it won’t for anyone else. Talk about career plans, and what you want to learn and achieve in the future.
  • What would you do if ….? Some interviewers ask fantasy questions not related to reality, but watch out for questions that are like verbal in-tray exercises. You might be asked to “sell me this pencil sharpener/ paper clip/ biro” – prepare to think on your feet.
  • Why are you leaving your current role? Employers will probe for reasons for your job change. If you are currently out of work, they will probe this, too. Rehearse short, simple, positive “stories” to cover these points. This is not telling lies, just a simple, positive summary.
  • What skills and expertise do you have for this job? Employers will be looking at how you will fit this role and also the wider picture – time management, organisational skills as well as the fact that you can sell!
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Remember that the recruiter gives far more weight to negative information. Talk about weaknesses that are also strengths, e.g. being demanding of your team, being a perfectionist, pushing hard to get things done…
  • Give an example of how you handled a certain situation i.e. complaint, busy period, handled customer service etc in your current role. Have a couple of good examples of past triumphs up your sleeve.

Typical Suggested Questions to Ask

  • What are the opportunities for career progression?
  • Why are you recruiting for this position?
  • What can you tell me about the team and people that I will be working with?
  • Is there a training structure when I start?
  • Who will be guiding me in my early days with the company?
  • How is the commission structure operated?
  • Will there be a second interview? If yes when?
  • What would you say the largest % of my day would be doing?
  • Does this company have a mission statement?
  • How does this company promote their product/service?
  • I am very interested in this position, when do you think I will hear OR when will I be invited to a second interview?
  • Is there a standard dress code?
  • What is the probation period?
  • What is the career structure?
  • Who will I be directly reporting to?
  • How many people in my department?
  • Does the company run training courses?
  • What is the office environment like?
  • What computer systems do you use?
  • How many staff does the company employ?

Well done for getting this far and good luck with your interview.

Remember if you are not successful, try and make sure that you understand why, so that you can possibly address this next time. Don’t give up, consider it valuable interview experience.