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Top Tips for an Interview and questions

Top Tips for an Interview

Key areas:

  • Know your CV and skills and experience – be able to discuss them confidently
  • Be able to talk confidently about the company and the job that you are applying for
  • Prepare questions to ask at the interveiw – ensure they are relevant
  • Prepare answers to questions that are likely to be asked – sell yourself
  • Build rapport with the interviewer on a personal level
  • Be enthusiastic and passionate

Always make sure that you are aware of the position that you are being interviewed for.  If you have not been given a job specification, make sure that your consultant has given you a full brief.

Research the company as much as possible before hand. Use the company website and look at other sources to broaden your knowledge. Use sources such as google, superbrands, BBC new website, times website and times top 100 companies to work for etc.

Make sure that you are aware where the interview will take place.  Plan to arrive 10 minutes early.

Phone before anticipated arrival time if for any reason you will be late (phone interviewer and consultant).  Be clear as to whom you are seeing, their position and whether they will be your line manager.

Do not assume that your interviewer has recently read your CV, they may have been interviewing several people that day – however feel free to use expression such as “as you can see from my CV … I have been..”.

Remember the expression “You never get a second chance at a first impression”. Make sure that when you meet the interviewer you shake hands firmly, smile and stand tall.

If you do not understand a question or it is not specific enough, ask them to re-phrase or be specific. If you have been asked to do a presentation, make sure that this is prepared and you have practiced it, if not you may need to re-arrange your interview.

It is important to:

  • Turn your mobile phone off.
  • Do not smoke before you go in - chew nicorette!
  • Be a good listener
  • Always illustrate interest in the company, even if this particular role is not suitable, another more senior position may become available to you
  • Use the interviewer’s name
  • Observe the interviewer’s reactions
  • Feel free to take brief notes
  • Answer questions directly and specifically, and avoid long pauses
  • Describe your accomplishments in quantitative terms – use % and £ wherever possible
  • Display confidence in your past achievements, today you are selling your most valuable product
  • Be honest when answering questions about current salary and benefits.  Do not try and be clever or appear greedy when discussing required salary.  Remember part of our role is to negotiate salary / package on your behalf.  The client may also be interviewing a number of suitably skilled candidates who may illustrate more commitment to their company by offering more flexibility in terms of salary.  If in doubt, explain that you are negotiable in terms of salary for the correct position, or that salary is something that you are wanting to give more thought to and then leave the rest to us
  • Ask questions that reflect preparation and logical thinking
    • What will you expect of the person you hire
    • What results are you expecting the person to produce
  • End negatives with a positive.  Avoid questions where the answer to whether or not you have specific experience, is a single no. Instead, always be honest and admit that you do not have the experience but end the sentence on a positive note. e.g. “No, but I am sure that I can learn it quickly”
  • Always make sure your attire is appropriate for interview (clean and pressed clothes, conservative jewellery, avoid deviations)


  • Be aggressive or arrogant
  • Answer questions with just yes or no, always explain
  • Argue, lose your cool or show nervousness
  • Criticise past or present employers
  • Highlight weaknesses
  • Attempt to read documents on the interviewers desk

When the interview is over, if you like what you have seen then tell the interviewer.

Thank the interviewer for spending the time to explain the role, let them know that you want to take it further and you will be in touch with your recruitment consultant immediately.

The following questions are likely to be asked during an interview:

1.  Tell me about yourself?

When this question is asked it can sometimes be confusing for a candidate as they are not sure what the interviewer means.
Advise your candidates to answer this question by:
Giving a brief outline of where they are from, and where they want to be going.
Tell the interviewer why they are there.
Example: Hi I’m Natasha I live in Abbey dale, for the past five years I have been working at Eagle star in the claims department, over the years I have gained valuable experience, however I now looking for further opportunity to develop my career. I am here today as I am very interested in your organisation and I feel my skills will match to what you are looking for.

2.  What can you bring to our company?

Advise candidate to talk about positive skills – examples will depend on the job role, if its customer services then responses should include:

  • Ability to empathise with customers
  • Excellent telephone manner
  • Calm under pressure
  • Experience in dealing with people from all walks of life.

Also: Advise you candidates to talk about

  • Achievements, e.g. projects managed, performance achievements,

3.  What do you know about our company and it’s business?

Advise your candidates to do the following.

  • Show that they have done their research, make sure they know how big the company is, what the history is, the image and goals of the company.

4.  Tell me about your last/ present position.

  • Candidates should emphasise more on the duties that are relevant to the position they are applying for, however they should also state what other duties are involved in their existing or past position.  They May also want to link to looking for new opportunities, e.g. need to move on to next level, or enhance my skills further

5.  Why are you leaving?

Advise your candidates

  • To be honest
  • Not to speak negatively of other people or previous employers. (It will make them look unprofessional.)

6.  Why do you want to work for our company?

Advise you candidates

  • Firstly to talk about the company needs, what the candidate can do for them.
  • To list positive factors such as I want a career and I know I would be happy here.

7.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is again difficult for candidates as it’s easy to list strengths but naturally no one wants to admit to having a weakness.
Advise you candidates

  • To list strengths and turn their weakness into a positive.

Example: My strengths are I am customer focused, I have excellent computer skills, I am quick to learn new process’s, my weakness would be that I may not be the most experienced candidate you are seeing, however for what I lack in experience I make up for with my self motivation and desire to succeed. (This is a polite way of saying I am aware I am not perfect however I will improve on this)

8.  What are your career goals?  Where do you see yourself 5/10 years from now?

Respond with, ‘I see myself becoming an expert in my position by the end of the year.  By the end of 3 years, I hope to have received new responsibilities and to have become more of an asset to the company.  Five years is a long way off.  I am hopeful at that time we will still have a mutually beneficial relationship.’

9.  What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?

Prepare extensively to answer this question.  Tell a 2-minute story:  State the accomplishment, why you consider it an accomplishment and what occurred as an effect of the accomplishment.

10.  Do you have any questions you want to ask?

Advise candidates to ask no more than 4 questions; good examples of questions to ask are as follows.

  • What training will I receive?
  • What is the company culture?
  • What are the greatest challenges of this position?
  • When will you be making your final decision, as this position is everything I am looking for?