How to succeed at interview

You’ve bagged an interview for your dream job, and you’re the best candidate by a mile. But forget any ideas you might have about your abilities shining through of their own accord. Interviewing well is a skill like any other, and it takes knowledge, commitment and hard work to come out on top. Remember, every employer is going to ask themselves two things about you: Are you qualified for the job? Are you enthusiastic? Taking the time to prepare a perfect interview will successfully answer both these questions.

Dress to impress

Face to face or remote, if you look untidy, that’s how you’ll be remembered. If in doubt, it’s always better to be too smart than too laid back. Wearing a suit or a smart dress sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of candidates who turn up in jeans and t-shirt, either virually or in person. It sounds patronising telling someone to dress smart, but a lot of people coming out of school or university just aren’t interview-savvy. Occasionally casual is ok, but check with your recruitment consultant first to see what is expected.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

List likely questions in advance. Memorise your answers. Check the time and place of your interview. Find out how to get there - do a dry run if necessary. Research the company you want to work for. Research the person interviewing you - a rudimentary search on the net might throw up some useful information.

Get physical

Never underestimate the importance of a firm, confident handshake and positive body language. Employers have been known to turn down a candidate because they slouched in their chair. You have to look keen and engaged, so mirror the body language of the person interviewing you, lean in towards them at times and don’t cross your arms. Always accept a glass of water, it can create a useful barrier during an uncomfortable question and buy you a few crucial seconds while you take a sip. But never take a biscuit — they’ll often try to throw you with a difficult question the moment you take a big bite!

Use examples

It’s no good just using abstract terms to talk about how organised or efficient you are. Prepare some examples from your past experience to immediately back up your claims. Emphasise what unique talents you’ll be bringing to the company. Don’t go too far though - pretending you’re some kind of superhero will make you hard to relate to. Show humility - talk about an area you’ve struggled at, and the way you overcame the problem.

Always be positive

When you’re asked why you’re moving on, don’t start slagging off your old boss. A lot of industries are very close knit and you may be insulting the interviewer’s friend. Think of positive reasons — make it all about the new company, your new career prospects and your ambition to succeed. Prepare at least 15 questions to ask at the end – five about the role, five about the company, and five specifically about the interviewer. It seems a lot, but you’ll find most of your prepared questions will be answered during the course of the interview, and they’re crucial for showing your interest in the role.

Ending the interview

At the end, try asking if they have any reservations about you – this will give you the perfect opportunity to give an immediate riposte to their concerns and provide you with a clean finish to the interview.

Contracting Through GSA / How to Write a CV / Competency Based Interviews / Self Bill Invoicing / Public Sector Opportunities / Off-Payroll Guide / Submit CV