Before the Interview
OK, you’ve made a good impression so far.
The company like what they see on your CV or application form and
have invited you for interview. Well done.
For some an interview is a daunting prospect, for
others it may not instill such trepidation. One thing is certain,
no matter how confident you are of your abilities now is not the
time to relax and think ‘I’ve got this far so I’m
sure to get the job.’ If you have this attitude it is almost
certain that you will fall at the last fence. Up until now you have
had time to prepare a CV and to write a letter. What you do not
have at an interview is time – you are ‘thinking on
Preparation is the answer. You must go into the
- As full an understanding of the vacancy and organization as
- Carefully considered responses to any questions that you think
you may be asked.
- Carefully considered questions of your own to ask the interviewer.
(See below for possible interviewer/interviewee
If you prepare well you will reduce feelings of
tension and will therefore be more able to make as positive impression
as possible on the interviewer.
At least two days before the interview do some
research. Find the company’s website if they have one and
read about the organization. Reread the initial advertisement to
remind yourself of what it is the company is looking for. If you
have applied for the position through an agency they should be able
give you some background information.
Doing this may generate some questions that you
wish to ask. Jot them down.
Look at the CV and covering letter you sent. If
you were interviewing for this position which areas of the CV would
you be most interested in and want to find out more about? This
could give you an indication of what the interviewer will focus
Questions you could be asked may include:
- Why have you applied for this job?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why did you leave previous employment?
- What do you believe are your strengths?
- What do you believe are your weaknesses?
- Why do you think you would suit this role?
- What has been your biggest achievement so far?
- What interests you most about this position?
- What are your career goals?
- What are your interests and hobbies?
Work out what your responses would be to these
and any other questions that you think could arise and write them
You may also face the ‘Tell me about yourself’
question! Prepare a 30-second ‘advert’ introducing yourself,
summarizing your current role and reasons for looking for a new
position and highlight what you consider to be your strengths.
Don’t worry about not remembering the responses
you would like to give. It is acceptable to make notes at interview
so take in a folder with an A4 pad and list the key words that will
assist your memory on the first page of the pad.
List also the questions you want to ask the interviewer.
These could include:
- Why has the position become available?
- Who would I report to and what is the structure or the department
I would be in?
- Would there be a probationary period?
- Is there a specific training program?
- Has the company any expansion plans?
(Remember that, whilst you may want to know more
about salary / pension / holiday, the main aim when asking questions
is to show your genuine interest in the role. Details of remuneration
can be clarified if an offer of employment is made.)
What to take
- A copy of your CV and any relevant certificates
- Any written references that you have from previous employers
- An A4 pad (as mentioned above) for notes
- Documentation showing that you are eligible to work in the
UK (e.g. European Passport, Work Permit/Visa etc)
You may not be asked for any of the above, in which
case it is probably better not to force a folder full of paperwork
upon the interviewer! However if you have everything you could possibly
need you will feel more prepared and come across as being organised
What to wear
It is difficult to generalise on what to wear for
an interview as much depends on the type of role for which you are
applying. Appearance is important though and dressing appropriately
will show that you take pride in yourself and are taking the job
As a general rule wear a plain suit and blouse/shirt
& tie. Jewellery and make up should be understated and strong
smelling perfume/aftershave should be avoided.
Give yourself plenty of time. If possible arrive
early and park down the road a little – taking a walk can
help to relax your mind and may help calm your nerves.
However, if you smoke resist a last minute cigarette. The smell
will linger and follow you into the interview room!
Report to reception 10 minutes early. Smile and
be polite, you never know who is manning the reception desk.
You will be nervous, the interviewer will expect
this – it is human nature. Take some deep slow breaths whilst
waiting to be seen and think positively.
- Smile and offer a firm handshake to the interviewer as you
- Do not sit down until invited to do so.
- If any other persons are brought in to meet you, stand up
and offer your hand.
- Sit upright and lean forward slightly
- Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview; if there
is more than one interviewer, be sure to make good eye contact
- Try to look and sound enthusiastic
- Take your time when answering questions.
- Speak clearly.
- Defend your viewpoint in a friendly way. Don’t argue.
- Don’t slouch or fidget.
- Try not to talk for the sake of it.
- Take notes if you wish. Doing so demonstrates that you are
interested. Just beware of spending too much time writing, it
may be off-putting to the interviewer and may challenge your
- If you do not have an answer to a question, do not bluff –give
an honest reply.
- Guard against boasting. There is a fine line between selling
yourself and sounding as though you are showing off.
Leaving the interview
At the end of the interview ensure that you understand
when a decision will be made and when you are likely to hear if
you’ve been successful or are required to attend a second
Thank the interviewer for his/her time, smile and
shake their hand.
Thank the receptionist on your way out.
Keep your fingers crossed!