Preparing for an Interview

It is highly likely that during your search for a new position you will be asked to attend an interview, either with a Search and Selection Consultancy or with a prospective employer. It may be face to face, by video call or by telephone.

What is an interview?

The interview is a controlled discussion between you and the prospective employer, or the search consultant who is representing the employer. The interviewer is not there to trick you but to find out if you are suitable, that you have the skills that you mention on your CV and that you will fit well into the organisation and team. 

The meeting should be a two-way exchange of information and a fact finding exercise which will help the interviewer form an opinion about you, and conversely gives you an opportunity to find out about the organisation. Take the meeting seriously - your attitude will show respect.

Although in some quarters the interview has been criticised, it still remains one of the most common and popular ways of selecting personnel. 

Are interviews effective? No!

  • Most people over-estimate their ability to judge others
  • Interviewers are deceived by good ‘interpersonal’ skills of candidates, thinking they will be good at everything
  • Interviewers accept what candidates say without probing further
  • Interviewers can treat different candidates inconsistently

    Remember, the interviewer has only four key questions that need answering:

    1. Can you do the job?
    2. Will you fit in?
    3. Can you get there?
    4. Do you want to do the job?

    Selection Formats

  • The interview itself may take a number of different forms; it could be formal or informal, be conducted by one person, a panel or a committee and may follow a number of strategies and techniques. It may even be wholly on-line using AI.

    Most interviews are generally competency, strength or value based and possibly a combination of all three.

    Some companies have standard selection formats and it is likely, particularly with senior appointments, that the selection process will involve a number of interviews, each having a slightly different format.

    As well as the selection interview you may also be asked to undertake a number of selection tests, which could include psychometric assessment such as intelligence tests, aptitude and attainment tests and personality tests.

    Typically though the format will be: introduction; information gathering-asking you questions; discussion of the role and company; summary and conclusion.

    First Impressions

    Presentation is all important when you go to meet your prospective employer and you should dress accordingly, even if it is an online video call.

    A number of studies have concluded that up to 93% of our first-time impact on others is non-verbal. Others have shown that there is a direct link between what you wear and what you earn. A badly dressed man penalises his earning potential by 15% and a poorly dressed woman by 11%. First impressions do count. A bad first impression with a client can take up to 15 subsequent meetings to correct - if ever. At an interview the wrong impression in the first few seconds could make or break a career.

    Look the part

    At your interviews you need to appear organised and professional which means wearing clothes that fit properly and look neat and tidy. We all assess physical appearance – age, sex, perceived status, attractiveness. Most people will behave more politely if they think the other person has a higher status.

    So try to dress conservatively - it is a formal business interview and you want them to remember you for what you said and not for what you wore! This means dressing in a neutral manner as you don't know the preferences of the interviewer or company yet!

    Interview Checklist

    This can apply to a face to face meeting or to a video meeting

    Before the meeting:

  • Make sure you know where you are going and who you are meeting
  • Arrive early 
  • Be prepared - investigate the company; read the job profile; check your CV
  • Know yourself - strengths/weaknesses, areas for further training
  • In the Meeting:

  • Be enthusiastic and try to create a positive impression
  • Don't be over confident or arrogant.
  • Make sure you answer the question - do not stray off the point or jump in.
  • Keep a balance between talking and listening
  • Links to other pages

    CV Review

    Interview Skills Training