Interview preparation

Interview Preparation

Thinking about the actual interview and preparing for the questions you may be asked can be quite daunting  if you haven’t had lots of experience  in this or you feel your experience is a bit rusty . Good preparation and planning will make the difference between and good  interview and an excellent interview in the London jobs market.

If you do get nervous the more planning and preparation  you do the more likely you will have a positive outcome.

The average number of interviews for each role you apply for is 2 however this is also variable and we have known of applicants who have had to undergo 4 or 5 stages.

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.  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 interview or a 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 or for jobs in market research, insight or sales or business development).  It is also an  opportunity to meet members of the team who were not part of the original process and probe further into specific skills as well as 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.


Our role

Before you go for interview we will always fully brief you on what to expect and who will be involved, highlighting any tests or assessments that you will have to take.  Our consultants will have experience of working with the company  you have applied to 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, structure, culture etc… and an indication of how many staged there are in the recruitment process.

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

Your  role is to do your own research too:

Research is key to a successful interview. There is no excuse not to do this. Lack of information will create a bad impression and make you look desperate or prepared to apply for any old thing. This will make an employer doubt your commitment to them and to the job.  You should always  look at the company’s website. look at any new initiatives they have,. what sectors they work in, what innovative offering they may have, if they have won any awards. in addition it is very easy nowadays to see if there are any  press releases offering  information relevant to the industry by looking at related industry news or just googling the company on the Internet.  You may also 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,  why you are interested in the role and how the job will fit into  into the business. You would be surprised how many candidates apply for roles without really understanding what the job actually involves.

An employer will want to hire someone who is genuinely interested in their business, the job and are passionate about the sector they are working in. Even if you are working in one part of the business, many employers will also
want someone who can demonstrate an understanding of the business as a whole and how the role they are applying to can cross into other areas of the business.  Although you may be offering specialist skills, employers value, more and more, people who have a broader view and understanding of business and who are able to go that extra mile to help out beyond their own actual job description. Being able to show you understand the business and the job and demonstrate why this excites you will make your application 100 times stronger.

Likely interview questions

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.

Typical questions can include :

– Why did you chose 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  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 you are leaving?

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

– Describe 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?

– Can you tell us about a time when you have worked well in team?

– How have you managed a situation of conflict within a team?

– Interacting with others can be challenging. How would you go about managing a situation of tension within a team?

– Tell me about a time when you solved a problem, and how you went about it?

– Can you give me an example of a task you have successfully completed that has benefited the company?

There are many more questions which will be relevant to the job description in hand and these can be discussed with your consultant.


Other general tips 

Remember that you are being assessed from the moment you turn up for interview . 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 be delays so it is worth also looking at a contingency plan

Firm handshake and smile

Eye contact – this is tremendously  important  – trust and building  rapport with colleagues and clients is always an important factor in recruiting people these days

Body language : sit up straight but no fidgeting : this can be very distracting

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

Don’t be too negative about current employer

If you are not sure about an answer to a technical questions don’t pretend to know,  ask for clarification and if you don’t know then the answer say so and ask them what would be the right answer.

Always prepare a number of questions which are relevant to the role , the company and the sector.

If you are interested in a long term career with the company make sure you highlight your interest in this role as well, many line managers who conduct the first interview are looking for people who will stay in their
department, especially if they are investing time and energy in training them.  They will not want to  train someone who’s ultimate aim is to then leave in 6 -12 months’ time and move into something completely different.

Explain why you are interested in the role and the company as this will leave a lasting impression with the interviewer and remember to thank them for their time.  This can make a difference to the decision of who they chose to join as the most interested candidate will often  be the one who gets the job.

Remember to allow your interviewer to talk as well and take the time to listen to what they say about the business the team or even any constructive criticism they may offer .

Be realistic about your expectations and your responsibilities and also how quickly you can progress.


Contact your consultant to feedback as soon as possible. It is 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…..

If you stick to some of the suggestions above then you will find your interview will run very smoothly. Good luck!

by Boyce Recruitment on March 4, 2012

posted on Help for jobseekers,