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The Ultimate Interview Guide

Congrats! You’ve landed an interview for that dream job and now you’re wondering how you can prepare to give you the best chance at landing the role. Interviews are often seen as those dreaded meetings to test subject knowledge, skills and suitability for the company. So how should you approach the pre interview prep to avoid stage fright and make the most of what should be a two way, ‘getting to know you’ meeting? Before the interview - do your research. In this digital era, preparing for an interview has never been easier. Information is so accessible online, with a simple few clicks you can access a wealth of information about your prospective employer. From company websites, to social media feeds and news articles, you can gain an excellent understanding of the brand and organisation you’re applying to work with. Ideally you will have done much of this initial investigation ahead of submitting your application but it’s always worth a refresh as information can change rapidly. In addition to a standard google search you should also:

  • Use the job spec to help you think of questions you’d like answered at the interview

  • Think outside the box search for company mentions on blogs, customer forums and other third party updates for less corporate information

  • Reach out to your network to find any existing employees or those who may be able to provide insider knowledge on the position you’re applying for.

  • Always research competitors and the market/industry in general.

Just as important as knowing about your potential employer, is making sure you’re clear on your experience and the facts you have presented to them.

  • Know your CV, it’s worth practicing how you will present your skills and experience to them

  • What stories and examples can you use to back up your experience

  • Who will you be mentioning as references?

  • Is there anything that didn’t make it onto your CV but could support the skills they need?

Being prepared for an interview helps keep nerves at bay, allowing you to present yourself in the best way possible. Regardless of who your interviewer is, Senior Exec, Hiring Manager or HR, companies are looking for three things: skills & experience, knowledge of the role, company, industry and personality fit. Your goal is to present yourself as the most qualified candidate, so be sure to use every opportunity to showcase how well you fit the job. Ask questions throughout the process to show your enthusiasm for the company and its culture. Do your best to build rapport, smile & engage in conversation. Where possible you should aim to have your answers ready. Often interviews combine traditional, CV and competency based questions so we would advise giving some thought to how you would answer each.

Traditional Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What appeals to you most about this position?

  • Tell me why do you think you’d be good at this job?

  • What are your key strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?

  • How would your colleagues describe you?

  • What do you know about this company?

  • Don’t you think you might be too experienced for this job?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

CV Based Questions

Your interviewer generally only knows what you’ve told them on your CV, so as we mentioned before, be prepared to expand on the outline you’ve given, talking about previous roles, teams, departments and companies, in a manner that supports your current application.

  • Tell me about the business your previous employers were in?

  • What department did you work for and what did it do?

  • How big was your team?

  • Which roles/departments did you work most closely with and why?

  • What was your specific role?

  • How did your role contribute to company success

  • Why did you decide to leave/stay so long/consider a move?

Competency Questions

The interviewers job is to assess your skills and experience directly against the core requirements detailed in the job specification.

Can you give me an example of a time when you have…

… used initiative?

… worked as part of a team?

… worked to tight deadlines?

… developed a new concept?

… increased revenue?

… stood up for what you believe in?

… (job specific) applied the principle of Project Management gained through your Prince 2 qualifications?

Structure your answers

The STAR approach can provide a structure to your answers.

Situation – Set the scene Task – What were you asked to do? Action – What did you do? Result – What was the outcome?

General Interview Tips

What we hear is only the tip of the communications iceberg, so it’s worth remembering the other factors that contribute to an interviewers assessment of others.

  • Be on time

  • Offer a firm handshake

  • Make eye contact

  • Relax, smile and be yourself

  • Take time to think about your answers, talking slowly and clearly

  • Make sure you highlight your strengths, don’t assume they know them

  • Be honest

  • Be polite

  • Use concrete experience to illustrate your points

  • Strike the right balance between listening and talking

  • Don’t smoke before you go in

  • Don’t chew gum during the interview

  • Turn your phone off and keep it out of sight

  • Be prepared with good questions

  • Thank them for their time at the end


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