You should prepare thoroughly for an interview. Do this by trying to guess what sort of questions you will be asked and more importantly what answers are you going to give. The nightmare scenario for a job applicant and a guaranteed way to fail an interview is to walk into one without having done any preparation at all.

Interview tips

You cannot be expected to accurately predict what sort of questions the recruiter is likely to ask you or the interview techniques they will use. However by getting as much information about the company and job as you can and practising what to say you can be fully prepared for anything they throw at you.

  • The key point to remember when responding to interview questions is to keep your answers brief and relevant.

Answering interview questions effectively
Start off by reading the job description carefully and analysing it. List the key requirements that the recruiter is looking for and then think about how your work experience and skills match those. Now decide how you will explain your relevant knowledge and abilities to a hiring manager in a interview room.

Before heading off to the interview make sure you:

  • Have the invitation letter with you.
  • Have a copy of the CV or application for you have sent in.
  • Have copies of any references and certificates.
  • Plan your journey in advance so your arrive early. For instance if going by car then find out beforehand where the nearest parking is.
  • Have a list of those skill sets you feel are relevant to the vacancy you are applying for, and memorise them.

Read your own CV 
Bear in mind that the employer will have read in detail the resume and CV template that you have sent in to them. They will want to ask you questions about what you have put down in your CV. It’s vital that any answers you give to them match what you have written in your CV. If you do not they will pick it up straight away and point it out to you. To make sure you do not make this mistake you should go over and memorise key facts from the CV you sent in to make sure your answers back up what you have put in your CV.

Presenting yourself
In an interview they are not just interested in your skills, but also how you present them and yourself. Other applicants may have similar skills and experiences to yours, but if your presentation, personality and approach is different and better then you will stand out.

Mention competitors
Another interview preparation tip is to research the whole of the industry that the company is in including its competitors and some of their products. Then mention this during the course of the interview, it will demonstrate that you already know the general industry well. For instance if the company trades in France then mention that you have noticed this and that you speak French fluently.

Dress smart and take copies 
Always attend an interview dressed formally, arrive early, speak clearly and be polite. Take with you any certificates and also a print out of any references if you have not sent them in already, place all of these neatly in a folder. Have copies of these documents to hand out if required. You should also have a notepad and pen to make necessary notes.

If you are involved in any voluntary groups or charities then also bring this up, it will show you have social responsibility.

Interviewers have a number of standard questions that they are likely to ask you. Below are a few of these, make sure you have ready made answers for all of these.

Typical interview questions:

  • What made you apply to our company for this position, what do you fee we can offer you?
  • How did you come to know about our vacancy with us?
  • Can you tell us what you know about our company and our products and services?
  • What do you feel you can offer and bring to our company?
  • Can you tell us what you feel you will be doing or would like to be doing in say 3 years time?
  • How would you describe your ideal company to work for?
  • What would you say are your strengths and also weaknesses?

Related interview topics:

How to deal with nerves during an interview

Job interview tips

Interview questions and answers

Typical interview questions

University interview questions