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How to get the most out of your interview

Presentation and preparation are key to getting the most out of your interview. Many interviews can be over before they’ve even begun due to a lack of care and attention to the basics. 

The essentials

Consider the following essential rules before you attend that all-important interview:

Look sharp: Always make sure you are dressed in smart business attire.

Be on time: Aim to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.

Be responsive: Answer in full and be prepared to expand upon what you’ve said.

Ask questions: Asking questions indicates your level of interest in the company and the role.

Do your research: Learn as much as possible – the more you know, the better chance you have of selling yourself.

Listen and answer the question asked: Answer the question they ask, not the question you want to answer.

Show enthusiasm and energy: Always sit up straight, speak clearly and maintain a positive attitude.

Know your CV inside out: Be confident with every point on your CV, you don’t know which part may have piqued your interviewer’s interest. Find out how to write the perfect CV.

Before the interview 

  • Use the job specification to match your qualities with the role requirements
  • Research the interviewer, the company, the industry and their competition
  • Practice responding to the different types of interview questions
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry
  • If you are asked to prepare a presentation during your interview, be sure that all visuals are professional looking and free of any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

The interview 

  • Ensure you look well-presented and professional
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early
  • Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and eye contact
  • Focus upon points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff
  • Relax and enjoy the conversation – learn what you can about the company
  • Ask questions and listen
  • Determine the next steps in the process
  • Thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you
"Information is key when it comes to interviews so do your research on the role and the company. In the interview, be specific and succinct in your answers and, most importantly, sell yourself and the impact you could have on the team and the wider business." - Kim, Head of Talent

Interview questions

While we can never totally predict what interviewers will ask, certain questions arise all the time and you should make sure you are ready with responses. Many prospective employers will seek to test your ability to think on your feet and express yourself by throwing one or two tougher interview questions into the mix.

Tell me about yourself?

This is the most common first interview question and the quality of response can speak volumes about a candidates’ suitability for a role. Rehearse a short speech, no more than a couple of minutes at most. Focus on your work attributes, and if asked about your personal life, keep your answers relevant.

Why did you leave (are you leaving) your job?

The key here is being positive. If you’re unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context. If you are employed, don’t dwell on the downside of your current situation; focus on what you want in your next job. Never give a negative answer to this question – it may make the interviewer question your future loyalty.

Download the full Interview Preparation handbook to find out how to get the most out of your interview.

Download the full Interview Preparation handbook

Based on nearly 40 years’ experience of placing candidates, this pack has been designed to simplify the interview process giving you the best chance of securing the role.

Download the Interview Preparation handbook