Successful Interview Preparation

Interview preparation and research is key to a successful interview, there is nothing worse than meeting a candidate with a great CV but they cannot articulate why they want the role, or have not researched the company and what they do.

First Impressions – Body Language Counts

You are on interview as soon as you pull into the car park or walk into the reception area.

  • Present yourself with confidence.
  • Be warm and friendly to the receptionist, they are often asked their opinion.
  • Shake hands firmly when introducing yourself to the interviewer and make eye contact.
  • Don’t sit down until you are invited to. If you are being interviewed by more than one person and you have an opportunity to, choose a position that allows you to face all interviewers directly.
  • To demonstrate your enthusiasm and that you are actively listening, lean slightly forward on the seat and nod in agreement at appropriate moments and maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Remain alert with good posture – don’t slouch or cross your arms.
  • Be aware of nervous habits – don’t doodle on notes, click a pen, run hands through hair, etc.
  • Do not chew gum in interviews.
  • Pause before answering questions.
  • Don’t worry about silences from the interviewer they give you time to think.

Make Sure You Do Your Research

  • Make sure you know the nature of the company’s business and when it was established.
  • How many locations they operate from – UK and internationally.
  • How many people they employ.
  • Visit the office location before the interview.
  • Plan where to park and the journey time.
  • Visit their website but also use other sources for information e.g. Search Engines, local press, ask friends and colleagues.
  • Establish what the interview processes will be.
  • Prepare for any assessments

Review the Job Description

  • Read through the job description and your CV
  • Highlight areas in your CV which demonstrate skills and experience required in the job description
  • Make a note of any areas which you feel you do not have specific skills and experience in, and know how you would address this if questioned in the interview.
  • Prepare scenarios which demonstrate your skills and experience.

Typical Interview Questions to be Prepared for

Being interviewed is a little like playing a role in a play. Rehearse your answers and you will feel more relaxed on the day.

Most Common Questions Asked

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why do you want to work for …….?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Which job have you enjoyed the most and why?
  • What don’t you like about your current job?
  • What relevant experience do you have for this position?
  • What motivates you?
  • Do you think ambition is a good thing?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are your strengths & weaknesses?

More In-depth Questions

  • What is the most enjoyable aspect of your current job?
  • How would your current line manager describe you?
  • How would the team you manage describe your management style?
  • How do you feel you would adapt to a new working environment?
  • What particular skill do you have that your current employer will miss if you leave their employment?
  • Give an example of how you have dealt with a problem or conflict within the workplace?
  • Is the customer always right?
  • What is the most difficult decision you have had to make?
  • What mistakes have you learnt from and why?
  • Sell me this pen?
  • Why should our company offer you the position?

Please see our other blogs for information on CV writing, Social media Tips, working with Recruiters and more or follow on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

If you need further assistance or have any questions on this article please feel free to contact us on 01252 734848 or email us at

Making a Quality Job Application

Be Transparent

When making a job application you want to make sure your CV is up to date and includes all the relevant information.

When writing your CV it is important to bear in mind that withholding information or not being transparent about your skills could cause problems with your application further down the line and possibly ruin relationships for yourself, the recruiter and their client and run the risk of a job offer being withdrawn.

For tips on how to write your CV and make sure it stands out see our article on “8 Ways to make your CV Stand Out”.

Be Selective

When you begin your search really think about what role you are looking for.

Are there particular sectors you want to avoid?

Are there certain tasks you know you do not want to do?

Do you want a role that offers progression?

Do you want to work for a small or large company?

What are your salary expectations?

If you know what you are looking for then you can avoid wasting time applying for roles that are not quite right for you.  Take the time to read the content of the role so that you can really understand what is going to be expected of you, if there is something you are unsure of then call up the employer or agency to find out more about what the role will entail.

Only apply for roles that are within your skill set and experience level, there is no point in making a job application for a role that you are under qualified for or have no relevant experience of.

Be Realistic with you Salary Expectations

Be realistic with you salary expectations – of course there is nothing wrong with aiming high but be realistic.

Roles are often advertised with a salary range, if you have previous experience in all the tasks/responsibilities listed on the advert then you may be looking at the higher range of the salary however if your experience is limited or not quite up to date then you may have to compromise on your expectations.

When making a job application if you are unsure about what to expect with your experience then speak to the recruiter or HR department and discuss where you would sit within the range.

Build a Relationship with your Recruiter or HR Department

Once you have applied for the relevant roles if your CV is successfully shortlisted by the recruiter or HR Department hiring the position they will try to get in contact to find out a bit more about yourself and why you are interested in the position.

If you are not available at the time to talk then ensure you call them back as soon as you can, alternatively if they email asking you to call and you are not available email back saying you are interested and arrange a time to call so they know you are keen and aren’t left waiting.  Similarly if you have found another job or decided that actually the role is not for you let them know! – You may need their assistance in the future, so always try and build positive relationships.

When the recruiter or HR Department call this is their first impression of you.  Ensure your voicemail is up to date – you don’t want to sound unprofessional (see our article on Social Media and Tech Tips for advice!).

When you do speak to them express how keen you are on the job and ask any relevant questions, it may be once you have asked some questions you are no longer interested – be honest if this is the case, there is no point in wasting theirs or your own time.  When the recruiter or HR department calls be prepared in case they ask you for an interview – if you don’t know your availability arrange a time to call them back with dates and times and ensure you get back to them within the arranged time frame.

Screening Questions

Once you have carefully read through the job advert and you decide that you would like to make a job application there may well be screening questions attached to the advert.  If the role requires a minimum number of years’ experience then the screening question may ask if you have this experience – be honest if you don’t have the experience don’t say you do!

It may sound obvious but so many candidates say they have 5 years’ experience but when you read through the applicants CV they only have 3-4 years.

Be honest it may be that not having the experience is not a dealer breaker but by stating you have the experience and not being quite truthful it may put off the recruiter or HR Department hiring.  If the company or client requires 5 years’ experience it will mean that there will be some complex tasks that require this level of experience, if you apply for the role but only have 1-2 years’ experience then chances are you will not be suited for the role.

For Interview preparation tips see tomorrows article on “Preparation for Interview” or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

If you need further assistance or have any questions on this article please feel free to contact us on 01252 734848 or email us at

8 Ways to make your CV stand out

Writing a CV can often be a daunting task and a bit of a minefield. If you are struggling then making a spider diagram or jotting down bullet points can help you to put your thoughts onto paper and organise your mind.

Whether you are creating your first CV or you haven’t written one in what seems like forever, follow the simple steps below and you will be well on your way.

Use a professional and up to date format – Think of your CV as a personal brochure highlighting your skills and experience which presents you in the best possible way to a potential employer. You don’t need to use fancy fonts and colours for your CV to stand out, ensure you are consistent throughout with fonts, headings, date formats, etc.  Make sure your CV is laid out clearly so it is easy to read and gives all the relevant information, avoid using CV templates, they look generic and when uploaded to job boards the formatting can be altered. Avoid having large chunks of writing – the use bullet points and short sentences help keep it to the point and hold the attention of the reader.

Don’t be afraid to make your CV longer than one page – whilst you do not need page upon page of information and it is important to keep the content within your CV brief and to the point, if you have been working for over 15 years don’t feel the need to cut down your achievements in order to squeeze it all on to one page. – Two or even three pages is fine.

Make your personal statement stand out – This should be a short paragraph (about 4-6 lines long) about who you are, what you have to offer, and what your career goals are. This is the first thing that employers will read, so showcase your most impressive skills that are relevant to the roles and industry you are applying for. Remember avoid using “I” or your name – always use third person.

Use industry keywords in your CV – many employers and recruiters use keywords to find candidates, therefore to give yourself the best chance of appearing in the searches and catching their eye try to include keywords to the role and industry you are applying for, although do be careful not to overdo it, and be sure to keep any keywords relevant to your experience.

Keep things professional – don’t be negative about your previous employers or jobs. Try to draw on all the skills you have learnt from the role and company and remain professional.

Use statistics – show your quantifiable achievements, for example let potential employers and recruiters know how many staff you are responsible for, or what volume of phone calls you are making per day, or the number of clients you are managing, or the volume of invoices you are processing per week.

Make sure your content is relevant – Firstly include all of your contact details, including your name, address and contact telephone number. When listing your education and employment history always ensure you start with your most current role and your highest level of education – this is the information you want employers to see first so make sure your CV is laid out this way.  When listing your employment history it is clearest to lay it out by giving your company name, your role title and the dates you were there, then list: (again – bullet points are great for keeping it short and to the point) your responsibilities, results achieved, training you undertook in the role and software you had to use within the role.  An “Interests” section on your CV can also make you stand out where you can include any hobbies.

Make sure you have double checked for any errors and that your content flows – read your CV out loud, you will be more likely to pick up on any mistakes you have made before your potential employers do. It never hurts to ask someone else to proof read your CV.