PREPARATION – IT’S THE KEY, IT’S THE SECRET! 

“The more carefully you prepare for your interview, the better your chances of getting hired.” 

Bill Radin - ©1998 Innovative Consulting 

 

YOUR CV 

You may have updated your CV recently but when was the last time you looked at it properly and thought about what you did in each job, both on a day to day basis and in terms of key achievements. Read it, know it back to front and talk about your roles with another person. Ask them to question you about your previous jobs; it’s amazing the things you’ll have forgotten about that might be key to the job you’re interviewing for. 

 

ANSWERS TO COMMON QUESTIONS 

It’s impossible to prepare for every question that might be asked but there are some questions that are common to almost every interview. 

 

OPENING QUESTION

The majority of interviewers start with a question that will ask you to tell them about yourself. This is a great answer to prepare for, having an answer ready can set your nerves at ease and answering the question well will get the interview off to a good start. 

Your answer to this question should be no longer than one to two minutes, it should tell them about who you are professionally, why you are looking to move roles into this job and why you’d be good at it. 

Don’t go through your CV line by line, they have your CV and have hopefully read it, they’re looking for you to highlight what you think is important. 

Don’t ask them what they mean by the question. Unless they specify, presume they want to know about you professionally. I know it’s a vague question but asking this can make a first impression that you’re uncertain, if there’s something that you don’t cover, that they want to know about, they will ask. 

Practice your answer out loud. You might feel awkward speaking to your mirror but it’s very different saying your answer compared to just having it written down, this will all help to make you more confident on the day. 

 

OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS


 • What are your strengths/weaknesses?

• Why do you want to leave your current job/company?

• Why do you want this job? 
 
Prepare your answers to these types of questions by thinking about what the interviewer is looking for from your answers. Review the job description and think about achievements you’ve had or tasks that you’ve done that would highlight why you’d be great for this job and make sure you work those into your answers. Write out at least 4 or 5 STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) statements about those achievements or tasks and practice saying them out loud. 

 

COMPANY RESEARCH 

By the day of your interview you should definitely know the history of the Company, their current activities, and also have a good knowledge of the industry the Company is operating in, in terms of any trends or events/legislation etc. that’s upcoming which will affect your role or the Company as a whole. 

A top tip is to set up Google Alerts for the Company’s name or the Industry they operate in. 

Along with this, social media in general is a great tool for researching the company you’re interviewing for. 

LinkedIn can provide you with information about your interviewer, do you have anything in common with them i.e. have you worked for the same companies previously or did you go to the same school? If the Company has a regularly updated page you might also find out about their approach to business. 

Facebook/Twitter can also be a good tool for you to learn about the social culture of the Company. 
Having this knowledge will now mean that your interview can be a two way conversation. 

 

THE BASICS

This is the common sense preparation section, but probably the most important. 

 

KNOW HOW TO GET THERE

Practice the route if you have time, consider the traffic if you’re travelling at peak times, and make sure you’re at the right address and know where the reception door is. 

 

ARRIVAL TIME

Know what time you need to arrive for, do you need to watch an H&S DVD before your interview etc. and aim to be walking into reception 5/10 minutes before this time. 

You may want to be in the car park 20 minutes before to make sure you’re not late but don’t go into reception more than 5/10 minutes prior. If you go in early, it’s very likely that the receptionist will call your interviewer to let them know you’re there. You will then have disrupted their plan for the day, worst case scenario is that they feel rushed and this then starts the interview off on a bad foot. 

 

APPROPRIATE DRESS & APPEARANCE 

It’s important that you select the right clothing etc. for the industry/company that you’re interviewing for. If in any doubt as to what is appropriate stick to the basics of business like clothing i.e. trousers/skirt and a shirt, that are well ironed and clean. Don’t forget to polish your shoes.

 

AT THE INTERVIEW

My suggestion is to take the John F. Kennedy approach to interviewing: “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company 
Bill Radin - ©1998 Innovative Consulting 

 

CONTROLLING YOUR NERVES

Your preparation will help you to manage your nerves on the day, you can have confidence that you’ll be able to answer the questions asked and that you’re in the right place! 
 
It’s also good to remember that the person interviewing you is usually on your side; the best outcome for them is that you’re right person for the job! Remember they may be nervous too, interviewing candidates, normally, won’t be something that they do every day and they also have the pressure of picking the right person. 
  
A good way to approach the day of your interview is to take on the mindset of a performer. If you were going to run a race or go on stage you would probably follow a set routine on the day. It might be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you eat properly that day or you might find that listening to a certain piece of music in the car before you go into reception gets you in the right mindset. 
 
Before you go into the building, smile and take a deep breath! 

 

YOUR BODY LANGUAGE

As soon as you enter the car park everyone you meet is a potential asset to your interview! Take the time to greet everyone with a friendly smile, make small talk if it’s appropriate and remember that you’re on show at all times! 

 

YOUR HANDSHAKE

Get feedback on your handshake, it many ways this is going to be your first impression. Too strong and you could come across as aggressive, too weak and they may think that you’re not up to the job. 

 

EYE CONTACT

Eye contact reassures your interviewer, it shows that you’re attentive and it builds the level of trust between you (normally a person struggles to look someone in the eye if they’re lying to them) 
You don’t have to stare into your interviewers eyes for the whole hour! You may want to make notes during your interview, this can be positive as it shows your interviewer you value the information they are giving you, however remember to keep looking up. 
 
A good way to understand the importance of eye contact is to think how you feel when the person you’re speaking to constantly looks at their phone, do you feel valued, do you feel that they’re interested in you? Chances are you don’t, you think they’re more interested on what’s on their phone screen than they are in you – this isn’t the impression you want to give your interviewer. If you’re uncomfortable with eye contact, practice is the best cure. 

SIGNALS FROM YOUR INTERVIEWER 

Be aware of the interviewer, not just what they’re saying but their body language as well. 
If you’ve given an answer that they want you to expand on they will be acknowledging what you’ve said both verbally and by nodding etc. If they want you to wrap up your answer they may put down their pen, or stop giving you the verbal cues to continue. 

 

THE SIGNALS YOU GIVE 

Enthusiasm is very important to demonstrate in any interview. If your skills and experience are equally matched with another candidate, the decision can very easily come down to who the interviewer thought wanted the job more. If you’re not a naturally enthusiastic person don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, but remember you need to give the interview the impression that you’ll be a positive inclusion to their team environment and most importantly that you want the job! 
You can show your interest by listening attentively to your interviewer, perhaps refer back to what they told you in your answer to a later question. This indicates that you’ve valued what they’ve said. 

Mirroring the other person’s gestures/body language is another way to demonstrate your interest. Don’t turn it into a game of follow the leader but for example, if your interviewer is concise in the way they speak you may want to also take that approach in your answers or in the way you phrase the questions you ask them. 


THE TRICKY QUESTIONS

STRESS QUESTIONS 

It’s impossible to prepare for every question that you may be asked at interview but knowing what do to if you’re faced with an unusual question is important. 

Interviewers today can ask things such as “Which Superhero do you admire most” or “What would you do if you were asked to unload a Boeing 747 full of Jelly Beans”. 

In this situation the important thing is not to panic! These questions are designed to test your creativity, your ability to deal with out of the ordinary situations or sometimes just how you react when you don’t know the answer to a question! 
The best way to tackle this is to buy yourself a little time, you can simply smile and say “I’ll have to take a minute to think about this, I’ve never been asked something like that before.” 
Then breathe and think, don’t just think about how panicked you are by the question, think could this question in anyway link to the job – if it does then tailor your answer to that. If it doesn’t then it probably doesn’t matter what you say, the most important thing is to say something. 

 

THE MONEY QUESTION

The best way to tackle this subject is to say that the opportunity is the most important thing to you and you’re sure that they will make a fair offer. If they press you further, you could give them the salary range that you’re currently in or want to be in. 

Your Questions to Them – there’s no such thing as a stupid question – yes there is! 

If you’ve prepared questions in advance and they’ve have been answered throughout the interview don’t just ask them anyway! Also asking a question about the salary or the benefits they offer can give the impression that this is your motivation for the role; this in turn can give the interviewer the concern that you may move company again for a better offer. 

Good questions to ask are ones that show your interest in the interviewer’s needs or what you can bring to the company. Examples of these are: 
 
• What’s the most important issue facing your department right now and how do you think I could help you with this?

• Was there a particular skill or way of working that you most admired in the person who did this role before? 
 
If your interview hasn’t covered a skill that you think is important to the role you could ask – “I noticed the job description mentioned XXX, this is something that I had a lot of experience with during my time at YYY. Is this a significant part of the role?” 

 

LEAVING THE INTERVIEW 

It’s important that you finish the interview on a good note, along with your first impression, the last impression you give is very important. 
 
Thank your interviewer for their time, smile and use that good handshake that you’ve developed. Don’t start thinking about what you said and how you said it until you’re out of the building, remember the information from the start – you’re on stage until you leave the car park! 
 

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

You should have been told during the interview when you should expect to get feedback etc. If you haven’t heard from them, 2 days after that date, then it’s the time for you to make contact either by phone or email. This contact should be used to re-emphasise that you enjoyed the interview and simply be a quick call to see if there is any update.