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Maximising your in-person interview

No matter how well qualified or suitable you are for a role, how you present yourself in an interview situation is crucial. Please don’t underestimate the preparation involved to present yourself in the best possible light to your potential new employer. 

Firstly, remember that people get an impression of you within less than half a minute of meeting you as over 80% is non-verbal! So the way you interact, dress, say hello and even how you sit in the interview room – all has an impact on the impression you give. Here are a few tried and tested tips to make sure that first impression and how you come across throughout your interview, is the right one:

Gain a good understanding of their products/services and the structure of the organisation, follow them on social media, read their blog, know who their competitors are and even research the person who will be interviewing you. This knowledge will give you confidence and that will come across on the day.

Familiarise yourself with the job description and so you can focus on providing evidence to show you are the best candidate.

Know your CV inside out. Be prepared to talk about specific achievements rather than talking about responsibilities.


  • How would your previous experience apply to the job on offer?
  • What do you like best/least in your current/last position?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What motivates you to do well?
  • Describe an incident when you have had to work under pressure?
  • What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?
  • What has been your greatest career achievement?
  • Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?
  • What five words would you use to describe yourself?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What made you apply for this role?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?

Make sure you have some well thought out questions ready for your interviewer as, without fail, you will be asked if you have any questions towards the end of the interview. For example:

  • Why has the job become available?
  • What induction/training programmes are there?
  • What types of people have been successful in the company?
  • What is the company culture?
  • What future growth plans does the company have?
  • Who will I be working with and what are their positions?
  • What will the key challenge be for the successful applicant?
  • Why do you like working at the company?
  • What are the prospects for promotion?

Make a list of points that you want to get across during the interview that really sell your skills and experience.

Think about your weaknesses and strengths. What would you be prepared to disclose as an area of your experience that is currently lacking? Make sure you can describe this as a positive, for example, an opportunity to develop.

. These days most companies use Competency Based Interviewing (CBI) which allows all interviewees to be measured against the same criteria and set of questions. Using CBI works for both the company and you – they can see how you match the competencies required for their role and you can assess whether the job matches your key skills and attributes. Expect to be asked a range of questions focussed on your past experience and the behaviours you demonstrated within certain situations. Examples of the type of question you will be asked are:

  • ‘Tell me about a time when ......’
  • ‘Describe an occasion when .....’
  • ‘When has it been important to .......’

This interview format may be new to you and can seem quite formal as the interviewer will also be taking notes. Here are a few specific tips on making the most of CBI’s:

  1. Always brush up on key technologies/tools if there are any areas where your experience is not as in-depth.
  2. Be commercial, not just technical, for example, explain the objectives and more importantly the results of projects you have worked on.
  3. Remember that the interviewer is interested in finding out what you have achieved, so don’t be too modest and remember to talk about the part you played in any team achievements and your contribution to project deliverables.
  4. You will be asked for examples of when things didn’t go so well in your current or previous work. Justify honestly why something happened and focus on what you learnt from it.
  1. Dress appropriately: Unless you are very familiar with the dress code of the company and know it is relaxed, even then a formal option is the safest one.
  2. Plan your journey and arrive early: Check traffic alerts, parking, train/bus times etc – and then allow extra time to get there. Find the office/relevant building and then go and get a coffee and have a final run through of your notes on the organisation and planned questions. This ensures you arrive in good time and relaxed!
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