Being interviewed: a resource

Anthony Haynes writes: Back in the autumn we published a trilogy of posts providing advice for interviewees. The posts covered:

  1. how to prepare for an interview;
  2. what to do on the day of the interview;
  3. what to do in the interview itself.

Here, for ease of use, we bring them altogether into one resource. It aims to provide firm and succinct advice on the points that we think matter most.


I) Preparing for your interview

  1. Research the employer in the round (that is, avoid restricting your research to only those aspects that are directly relevant to the opportunity).
  2. In particular:
    • read the employer’s website thoroughly: get a feel for how the employer addresses various stakeholders (for example, customers, suppliers, investors). Avoid focusing only on what interests you about the employer: focus too on what interests the employer;
    • read the employer’s annual report;
    • read the employer’s posts on social media. In particular, seek to get a feel for the ‘voice’ of the brand;
    • set up a Google alert so that you gather the latest news and opinion on the employer.
  3. If the opportunity has come to you via a recruitment agency, ask them to provide you with a brief on the employer and the team.
  4. Get to know the job description thoroughly. Approach the task like revising for an exam.
  5. By analysing (a) the job description and (b) the brief, derive a list of likely competency-based questions to use for practice.
  6. If you know who the interviewers will be, research them online (nb LinkedIn) and, where possible, amongst your acquaintances.


II) On the day of the interview: the before and after

  1. Dress to impress.
  2. Take a notebook with you, containing a list of up to half a dozen questions that you may wish to ask the employer.
  3. But avoid asking about the pension scheme, holiday entitlement etc. – in an interview that bores everyone and in any case you can get the information via HR or your recruitment agency, which is the more professional way.
  4. Ensure you know the correct location. Note that some employers have more than one site within the same city.
  5. Have all the relevant contact details to hand in case of delay or mishap. Ensure your phone’s charged and in credit.
  6. Ensure you arrive in good time, with at least 10 minutes to spare. Not only do you not want to be late: you also don’t want to appear flustered, panicky, or out of breath.
  7. Before you enter the employer’s premises, ensure all your mobile devices are turned off.
  8. And keep them turned off. Give your attention instead to the environment – what clues about the employer does it provide? − and be ready to greet your host without the distraction of gadgets.Throughout your visit, give your full attention to the employer.
  9. Afterwards, send an email. Thank them for the interview and re-affirm your interest and enthusiasm. If the opportunity came to you via a recruitment agency, send the message via them.


III) The interview itself: sample questions

The following questions can be used to help prepare for your interview. They represent a selection of the questions most typically asked of the candidates we place.

  1. What do you understand about the role that you have applied for?
  2. Why are you looking to leave you current role?
  3. What attracts you to/excites you about this role?
  4. What attracts you to working for this employer?
  5. How does your CV match up with our requirements?
  6. And how can you transfer your skills and learning to this role?
  7. If we were to ask your previous work colleagues, how would they describe you?
  8. What do you think would be the most challenging aspect about this role and how would you overcome that challenge?
  9. Why are you a great candidate for this role?
  10. How does this role fit in with your career trajectory? What role would you aspire to after this one?
  11. How do you keep up to date with developments your field/area/profession/industry/markets?
  12. What areas do you think our business should target for growth? Why?



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