General Interview Tips

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There are 3 key things an interviewer wants to get from your interview:

  • Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?
  • Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
  • Will you fit into the team, culture and company?

So what do you need to do?

  • Consider the key skills you will need for the job from the Job Description. Think about what they would be, and make sure you get that across at the interview, it will help the employer to identify how you’re meeting criteria by using similar vocabulary. Don’t single anything out – make sure to include both technical as well as soft skills!
  • Demonstrate how interested you are in the company and excited about the prospect of working there. Do your research and have some questions prepared to ask, this will help navigate conversation and prove your enthusiasm.
  • This is also about you showing them your personality and how you might fit into their organisation. Check out comments on social media from current as well as ex-employees to learn more about their culture and then consider if you will fit. After you engage with their tone and formality, don’t be afraid to let the conversation become chatty and more fun on less formal matters.

A look into finer details

  • Appearance – first impressions do count – dress smartly – pay attention to personal grooming. You can sense the company’s stance on ‘uniform’ by engaging with their LinkedIn posts and website, from this, match your appearance to what you’ve seen, while keeping your independent style. Check out the location, journey, and parking arrangements in advance. This will keep your time management in check.
  • Allow plenty of time to get there, no one likes to be kept waiting!
  • People hire people they like – make eye contact – be engaged – SMILE – show your personality
  • Don’t fidget and be confident in your body language! Here’s a video to help you with tips and tricks on how to show confident body language:
  • Don’t be negative about a previous employer – be objective and positive about why you’re moving on.
  • If you love the sound of the job, tell them how much you want it and why.

If you want to test yourself and haven’t done an interview for a while, have a read through these example questions and get prepared!

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you know about our products and services?
  • Why do you think this job is right for you?
  • What makes you think you would be a good fit for our company?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • What do you think the main challenges will be?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?
  • What motivates you?
  • What makes you a good team member?
  • How would your work mates describe you?
  • Give me an example of when you have had to deal with a difficult situation at work
  • How did you resolve that difficult situation?
  • How do you cope in stressful situations?
  • What are your personal interests outside of work

To help you with some questions you might want to ask, try these:

  • What does a typical day in the post involve?
  • Who would I report in to / Who would report in to me?
  • Where would I fit in the department?
  • What is the organisation’s short-term / long-term goals?
  • What opportunities are there for training in new skills?
  • What is the scope for career progression?
  • How does your company differ from its competitors?
  • Do you have any concerns about my ability to fulfil this role?

Competency-based Interview

Competency-based interviews are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to test how you deal with stress by asking first how the candidate generally handles stress and then asking the candidate to provide an example of a situation where he worked under pressure.

The list of skills and competencies will depend on the post you are applying for. Here is a list of the more common skills and competencies that you may be asked to demonstrate:

Skills and competencies for competency-based interviews
Adaptability Delegation Leadership
Compliance External awareress Leveraging diversity
Communication Flexibility Organisational awareness
Conflict management Independence Resilience and tenacity
Creativity and innovation Influencing Risk taking
Decisiveness Integrity Sensitivity to others

In many cases, the interviewers will start with general questions, which they will then follow up with a more specific example-based questions. 

So, for example:

  • How do you manage upwards?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you had a fundamental disagreement with one of your superiors.
  • How do you ensure that you maintain good working relationships with your senior colleagues?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you had to deal with a conflict with an internal or external client.
  • How do you influence people in situations where there are conflicting agendas?
  • Tell us about a situation where you made a decision and then changed your mind.

The key in answering is that you can “demonstrate” you have the right skills by using examples based on your prior experience, and not just talk about the topic in a theoretical and impersonal manner.

Make sure you understand which skills and competencies will be needed for the role you have applied for and then think about examples you could give to demonstrate those skills. .

For example, you may need to have “good communication skills in dealing with third parties”. For someone who works in customer service and is expected to handle complaints all day long, this will most likely involve a mix of empathy/understanding as well as an ability to be assertive in a nice way whenever required; however for someone applying for a commercial law post, this will most likely involve an ability to explain complex matters in a simple way, and therefore requires less empathy.

Learn to tell the story using the STAR method. This means setting the scene, explaining how you handled the situation by placing the emphasis on your role, and detailing the outcome/result.

The acronym STAR stands for:

  • Situation – describe the situation you found yourself in.
  • Task – what was the task you needed to solve?
  • Action – what action did you take?
  • Result – what was the outcome?

For sales roles that will require the ability to hit KPIs and Targets, make sure you have all the relevant information about your previous targets ready. Use £sales as well as % of target to clearly demonstrate your successes.


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