The Interview

Good preparation and planning will make the difference between a good interview and an excellent interview. Here are some pointers which we hope will help.

1 st step

Interview Preparation

The more you prepare before your interview the more in control you will be of the situation and the less likely you will be to let your nerves overtake you.

Typically you should expect at least 2 interviews in the recruitment process, however this may also vary and we have known of applicants who have had to undergo several stages and other applicants to have had just one interview before being given a job offer.

Usually the first interview is an overall assessment of skills, motivations and ability and can be combined with competency assessments and face to face meeting. (Take a look at our blog articles on different style of interview for more information.)

This can then be followed up by a second stage process where fewer and sometimes one shortlisted applicant is chosen to meet individuals in the team.

The initial first interview could take place in varying formats. It could be a face to face meeting, a telephone or SKYPE interview. The format may differ, however the objectives are usually very similar: to decide who should be invited back for a second stage, perhaps more in depth selection process.

The second stage is often combined with a presentation for more senior level positions. It is also an opportunity to meet members of the team who were not part of the original process and thrash out any concerns the employer may have about the applicant or assess skills which are needed in the job in hand.

During the whole interview process it is always important to be clear, honest and open and make sure that you are able to communicate your abilities and skills as well as interest in the company in an engaging way.

2 nd step

Preparing before the interview

Our role

Our consultants will have experience of working with the client and would usually be able to advise on the key aspects of the process as well as the structure and who is involved from the start. We will give you information about the company, culture and what they are looking to achieve with this hire.

From their initial interview with you, they should be able to advise on where they feel your strengths are and where you may have weaknesses and how you could overcome these.

Your role

Research is key to a successful interview. The internet and social media offers you the unique opportunity to research and find out as much as you can before you go to visit a company. If you don’t prepare or research then you will almost certainly create a bad impression.

You should always look at the company’s website, Linkedin profile, Facebook, Twitter and see if there are any press releases online offering information relevant to the industry. You may wish to speak to any people you know that work there or speak to the PR department.

Re-read the job description and make sure you are really clear as to what it is you are applying for and how that will fit into the business, you would be surprised how many candidates apply for roles without really understanding what the job actually is.


If you review the job description and also your CV you can probably anticipate some of the questions an interviewer may have. These may be skills based, motivational or competency based questions.

Questions can include:

Why did you choose to study x y x ?

What made you follow the career path that you have chosen?

What qualifications or experience do you have that would be most relevant to the job?

What jobs have you enjoyed the most/ the least?

What strengths can you bring to the role and what are the challenges that you see for yourself in this role?

Tell us about our last role and why are you leaving?

What is the biggest success or sense of achievement you have experienced in your career to date?

Give me an example of a time when you have changed a way of doing things? Why did you want to change things and how did you go about implementing this?


Many candidates feel uncomfortable broaching the subject; deciding when is the right time to mention it and to whom you can discuss this personal subject with, can be complicated.

Our advice is to trust and talk to your recruiter about the subject and ensure that the recruiter has a total and accurate breakdown of all your salary and benefit package details. This should include forthcoming reviews, bonus including conditions and payment dates.

Recruiters have access to many companies’ salary structures and therefore are able to quickly offer you industry benchmark salary information. They are working in your interests to secure the role for you and will be able represent your goals not only in terms of career prospects but also for financial reward.

We will help you formulate a plan of how you want to pitch your salary expectations and at what stage this should be discussed. In most instances, a clear and early understanding of salary is advised, however should the parameters of the job or responsibilities change then you will need to work together to communicate clearly to the client what your expectations are.


Remember that you are being assessed from the moment you turn up. The impression you give the receptionist can influence the final decision so it is always important to make a good impression from the start.

Be early and not late, so always plan your journey to arrive early, there can always be transport delays so it is worth also looking at a contingency plan.

Make sure you give a firm handshake and smile, it shows confidence.

Good eye contact is tremendously important, it creates trust and also helps build rapport with colleagues and clients.

In the interview make sure you sit up straight and try and avoid any nervous fidgeting . This can be a distraction and the interviewer may inevitably get carried away by the fidget rather than the actual content of what you are saying.

Make sure your answers are relevant and qualify your answers, always explain the reasons for your answer.

Don’t be too negative about your current employer, you want people to think you are a positive person and someone they would enjoy working with.

3 rd step

After the interview

Contact your consultant to feed back your thoughts as soon as possible. It is very important to outline your impressions of the interview, the company and the role and why you are / are not interested.

At this point you should highlight any reservations or concerns you may have as well as offer feedback on the actual process itself. Does the job meet your expectation? Did you have a good rapport with the interviewer? Do you have any reservations now you have been to the company and met with the Hiring Manager? Would you accept the role if offered?

It is always important that we receive feedback, or at least initial impressions. Employers like to hear what people think as soon as possible, otherwise they may be inclined to feel that the job isn’t as interesting or important to you as it might be to other applicants that are quicker on the mark.

Lastly there will always be other elements to the interview process which are worth considering and this is where your relationship comes in with your consultant. Communication is key and ask as many questions as you need to. That’s what we are here for.

We work hard to build up a really good understanding of what makes our clients tick and what they look for in job applications. We know what works well and what doesn’t. It is a team effort and nothing gives us greater pleasure than finding the perfect role for our candidates.


Read our tips on planning for Competency Based Interviews here