Interviews are the best opportunities to demonstrate your suitability for a job. They are generally the next step in the recruitment process after a CV or application form has been submitted. Candidates successful in impressing during the first stage with a good CV or application will, in most cases, have an interview with a representative or representatives of the company or firm.
Please review our interview tips for advice on interview questions, preparation and dos and don’ts, among others.
The golden rule with job interviews is - prepare yourself thoroughly.
- Find out everything you can about the company.
- Read corporate brochures, visit the library, search online and talk to friends who already work there.
- Remind yourself why you are particularly interested in working for this company.
- Think what skills/knowledge/interest you have to offer.
- Prepare some questions to ask.
- Be prepared for interview questions.
- If you are facing a panel, find out who is on it and their positions and backgrounds, if possible.
Making a good impression
First impressions count, so make sure you:
- Dress smartly and professionally.
- Avoid flamboyance or untidiness.
- Avoid heavy aftershave or perfume.
- Don’t smoke before the interview.
Make sure you know:
- Where the interview is.
- When you have to be there.
- Arrive in good time, ideally ten minutes early.
- Do not arrive too early as this may disrupt the interviewer’s schedule. Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet.
- How long it will take to get there. Allow time for traffic and parking.
- Who you are going to see and their position in the company.
- The candidate who performs best at the job interview is often given the job over the best candidate.
- You are expected to ‘sell’ yourself, build rapport, reveal attitudes and opinions, and talk freely. You must demonstrate the benefit and relevance of your skills to prospect employers – ensure you cover them in the job interview whether you are asked or not.
- Build rapport with your interviewer. They will feel more comfortable with you and the interview will go more smoothly. It will also help demonstrate that you will fit in the team.
- Be positive – enthusiasm can sometimes compensate for lack of experience.
Closing the Job Interview
- Your interviewer will usually indicate when you will learn the result. If not, ask what happens next, when the decision is made and when second interviews are to be held. (Most firms operate on a two-stage process, so, if successful, you will be shortlisted for second interview with a view to meet other managers or colleagues.)
- Make sure the interviewer is aware of your interest in the job and desire to join the team.
- Make notes on the interview. Information about the job, interviewer, interview questions and department will prove invaluable if you are invited to a second interview.
- Write a letter of thanks, if you are very keen.
- If the interview was arranged through a recruitment agency like Change, phone your consultant and let them know your thoughts on the interview. You will get initial feedback faster and be kept informed of next stage or decision dates.
Interview questions you may be asked
- What did your boss say about you at your last appraisal?
- What do you regard as your main achievements?
- What hours do you work?
- If I spent a week with you, what would I notice about your approach to work?
- Which parts of your job put you under the most pressure?
- Give me an example of a recent problem where you had to made a difficult decision and how you handled it.
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- What attracted you to apply for this job?
- How would you like to see your career develop over the next five years or so?
- Why did you decide to work in this field?
- What other employers have you applied to and for what types of job?
- (You may be posed a problem) We want to expand this specialisation and/or win new clients. How would you go about it?
- Sum up your strengths and weaknesses.
- What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with and why?
- What do you know about this company/firm?
- What are you looking for in a company?
- In what area of your job have you achieved the greatest success? Why do you think that is?
- What do you think of our company brochure?
- What are your long term aspirations? Where do you want to be in ten years time?
- What motivates you?
Questions for you to ask at the interview
You should always welcome the opportunity to ask questions. Remember that most interviewers will judge you as much by the questions you ask as by the answers you give to theirs. Ask about the job, responsibilities, size of team, staff, and services to clients. Your questions might include:
- Who would I report to?
- How often is performance reviewed?
- Why is your company so successful?
- What rate of progress should I make in ‘X’ years?
- What level of responsibility will I be given?
Dos and Don’ts
- When you meet your interviewer, shake hands warmly – remember the merits of a firm handshake.
- Smile! This will encourage and relax you and the interviewer and help build rapport.
- Frequent eye contact.
- Maintain good posture, leaning forward slightly to indicate your interest.
- Try to relax and assume a comfortable position.
- If in a panel interview, address the person asking the interview questions and use sweeping glances to include the entire panel.
- Gazing around the room - this will make you appear uninterested, vague and lacking in concentration.
- Maintaining constant eye contact - it will make the interviewer feel ill at ease.
- Sitting bolt upright - this makes you appear uneasy.
- Slouching – you will seem casual and unconcerned.
- Negative signals like crossed arms (barrier signal when insecure), hand wringing (tension) or fidgeting.
General Interview Tips
- Answer questions fully – try not to answer just yes or no. The more you talk, the more you can satisfy the interviewer, but don’t ramble! Keep answers clear and concise and don’t talk too fast.
- Don’t use filler words, slang or dialect and avoid constant hesitations.
- The effective interview should have a 70%/30% split applicant to interviewer time spent talking. Interviewers expect applicants to talk far more than you might think.
- Always be positive.
- Be confident and believe in yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to sell yourself – the interviewer will be looking for evidence that you have the potential to progress in the company.
- Even if you feel things have gone poorly, don’t write it off. Stay positive and remember that you can learn and profit from the experience.
- Don’t offer derogatory information about your present employer.
- Don’t pretend to know something that you are ignorant of or try to answer a question that you haven’t understood. Ask for clarification.
- Be specific about what you want to do and how you see your career progressing.
- Don’t lie
Telephone interview tips
Telephone interviews and video conferencing are more commonly used for international positions. Companies use telephone interviews for various reasons:
- As a preliminary screening prior to inviting the candidate to meet in person.
- When there are a large number of candidates applying for the role.
- When the role on offer involves extensive time on the telephone.
- When there is a large distance between candidate and client.
Telephone interviews following the same basic rules as face-to-face job interviews. However, in many respects, a telephone interview can be more difficult to prepare for in comparison to a meeting in person.
You must go into the call as knowledgeable and researched as possible and expect to be questioned on what you know. For international assignments, research should cover:
- The location – Why are you attracted to working internationally and why that particular country or city? The web and friends and family who have either visited or relocated are great tools.
- The company – Why are you attracted to working for this company - is it their global status, your long term career aspirations, the role?
- The role – What attracts you to the role and why should they hire you? Do you have a similar skill set, what can you bring to their firm and department? Make sure you have the job specification in front of you.
- Questions – Have all of your questions planned out and written down in front of you, this way you will never forget to ask any crucial points. Good questions to ask include:e what training will be provided, will there be travel involved in the role, what opportunities are there for long term advancement, structure of the division, where would you fit in, etc. There is one golden rule - NEVER ask about salary unless it is brought to your attention by the interviewer.
- CV – Re-read your CV and ensure that you have it sitting in front of you. Think carefully about potential interview questions they may ask. For example: if you have gaps in your employment, why? If you have moved around a lot, why?
If the call has been confirmed for a specific time, make sure that you are ready and waiting. Excuses will not be tolerated, even if it is on a mobile phone. It is imperative to ask for the interviewers details prior to a confirmed call. That way, if there is no call when planned, call 15 minutes later and leave a message if they are not around to let them know that you were ready and waiting.
- Phone line – Try to ensure the call is on a landline to avoid interference on the line.
- Noise – Make sure you are in a quiet room and confirm that you are not to be interrupted (by colleagues or children!).
- Tone – It’s not only what you say that counts, but how you say it. Arrogance, enthusiasm, lethargy can all be apparent by the way we speak so make sure you’re upbeat and full of energy when you speak. Sound interested and interesting!
- Be succinct – presentation and body language cannot gauged therefore making your words even more crucial. Do not drone on; get straight to the point.
- Language – Do not swear or use colloquialisms. Many international clients will not understand or be impressed.
- Addressing – Try to use the company and interviewer’s name throughout the interview.
Show your commitment and enthusiasm!
Completing the call
The interviewer’s objective is to hear how interested you are. If you are keen to progress, tell them. If positive from their side, ask what timescales are they considering, are there many candidates being interviewed and what would be the next stage in the process? Closure is just as important as opening the conversation. Don’t be afraid to take control, but mind that there is a fine line between being in control and ‘pushy’.
Afterwards, relay your feedback on to your Consultant immediately along with any other questions and let them take over.