Interview Techniques

Congratulations – you’ve bagged yourself an interview!

You’re on the shortlist, having fended off most of the competition, so let that confidence shine through!

It’s only natural to feel nervous when attending an interview, however it’s important that you show confidence, demonstrating that you are THE BEST PERSON for the role!

Interview Preparation

  • Choose a suitable outfit, making sure it is clean, neat, pressed, comfortable and professional
  • Research the company, as demonstrating you have familiarised yourself with the business will put you in a positive light
  • Ask yourself what questions you are likely to be asked so that you can prepare your answers in advance
  • Think of questions you would like to ask the interviewer about the business or role when invited to do so, as this will show you are inquisitive and interested and eager to learn more about the company
  • Give yourself plenty of time for your journey (allowing for possible delays beyond your control)
  • Switch off your mobile phone once you have arrived (a ringing phone mid-interview would leave a very poor, careless, unprofessional impression!)
  • Remember to smile, giving a good, firm handshake and regular eye contact, ensuring you are polite to everyone you come into contact with, as you never know who might be on the selection panel!
  • Once seated, ensure you are relaxed, sat comfortably and with your hands resting on your lap (i.e. not slouching or with your arms folded)


Typical Interview Questions

Common questions asked in almost every interview are…

“Why should I hire YOU?”

“What makes YOU the best candidate for the job?”

“What has made you apply for THIS PARTICULAR role?”

Look at the job description to understand what qualities they are looking for and base your answers around those, giving real-life examples from your career to date. You want the interviewer to be able to visualise you actually doing the job, as this will improve your chances significantly!

It is very likely you will be hit with “Tell us about yourself”, so make sure you prepare a brief yet informative answer, giving a concise career summary (not your life history!). 

Don’t be surprised if asked a question like “What is your favourite ice cream?” Simply answer honestly and with humour. They’re more than likely just intrigued as to how well you respond to an unexpected question under pressure.  You’re certainly not going to ruin your chances by favouring vanilla over strawberry! Similarly, if you get a popular brain-teaser question, stay calm and explain your thinking. Again, there may not be a right answer, they are just keen to see how well you respond!

Questions to Ask

Towards the end of your interview it is customary to be asked if you have any questions YOU would like to ask.  To make yourself stand out, as an engaged and interested candidate, be sure to have some readily prepared questions to ask the interviewer. Focus on questions including the day-to-day reality of the role, about the company itself, or what opportunities might be available in the future for you in order to be able to grow and progress within the company.


Top 5 Interview Mistakes

First impressions REALLY matter when attending your job interview. Competition can be fierce and for every position you apply for you’ll be up against a number of other talented candidates.

So, do your absolute best to showcase your best qualities, ensuring you are memorable for all the right reasons. Nerves can play a part in the interview, however everyone has areas they could improve upon. More often than not it’s the most preventable errors that cost you the job!

Here are some common interview mistakes to avoid…

1. Arriving Unprepared

Preparation is crucial, as well as arriving in a positive, confident manner, in preparation to tackle the interviewer’s questions. You must ensure you fully understand the role on offer, as failing do so will make you look lazy and uninterested.

Plan how you are going to get to your interview, planning your route and leaving ample time (factoring in any delays you may encounter). There are no excuses for lateness when it comes to job interviews, so show your reliability and enthusiasm by arriving on time.

Delays can sometimes be unavoidable, however as long as the circumstances are beyond your control it shouldn’t affect your chances. Should you encounter delays throughout the journey, just remember to bring the details of your interview contact with you so you can inform them that you may be late.

2. Dressing Inappropriately

Being well presented is an absolute MUST, so give your choice of outfit some careful consideration, as arriving in trendy, ripped jeans and a pair of casual trainers will not leave a good impression!

Consider the type of company you have applied to, as this should give you a clue as to the type of dress code.  Business firms tend to dress in a more professional, formal fashion, however creative/IT companies tend to dress a little more relaxed.  If in doubt it is best to err on the side of caution (i.e. better to dress smartly rather than casually).

3. Talking to Excess (or Not Enough!)

When talking you need to strike a balance between talking too much and not talking enough, which can be a challenge.

Waffling, a common mistake, tends to be the result of nerves, so avoid talking about everything all at once. It is important to sell yourself and your skills and experience without rambling on and on. Once the interviewer asks you a question, take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding, being careful not to talk over or interrupt the interviewer whilst he/she is speaking.

Giving insufficient information, or forgetting to mention important points, can be just as detrimental.  Practise answers to common interview questions beforehand, making sure you have a number of examples from previous work experience to draw upon.

Employers do understand that nerves play a part in the interview process so, if your mind goes completely blank gather your thoughts or ask if it is ok to come back to the question at the end, thus allowing yourself extra time to think.

4. Criticising Previous Employers or Colleagues

Complaining about past colleagues, drawing attention to the negative aspects of your previous or current job, or moaning about your superiors are all likely to blow your chances of success. This gives employers the wrong impression of you and makes them question what you would say about them in similar circumstances.

Whatever your reasons for you leaving your previous or current employment, always be diplomatic, as you don’t want potential employers to think of you as disloyal or complaining. So, instead of highlighting the mistakes of others, emphasise the positive steps you took in order to overcome them. This shows how proactive you are.

5. Failing to Ask Questions

As the interview draws to a close, it is customary for the recruiter to ask if you have any questions you would like to ask them. Never say “no”, as this never shows you in a positive light. This is YOUR opportunity to get answers to YOUR questions about the role and the company, so don’t waste it. Asking a couple of relevant questions shows your interest in the role. You could ask about any current major projects your potential team are working on, progression opportunities, or where the company sees itself in, say, five years’ time.

Avoid asking what the company does (as you should have already done your research beforehand), how much paid leave you’re entitled to or whether you’ve got the job. Also, avoid asking a question about something that has already been covered during the interview, as this will show that you have simply not been paying attention. Where possible try to prepare two or three questions in advance, that way you have always got a backup!

Good Luck!


Article written by Dan Mason from Prospects.