How To Nail That Interview

I recall an incident about 10 years ago.  I was applying for an internal job and I asked colleagues for any advice that might help me prepare for the interview.

The advice I received was to wear a short skirt. Not quite what I was expecting. But rather than responding to it in some way  I simply kept my skirt length where it was and  went for the interview.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I should indeed have commented. As I think about it now, I can see that it was really rather shocking that someone should say such a thing. However, I didn’t want to make a scene and I really wanted the job.

Since then I’ve had numerous job interviews and have also been the interviewer for hundreds of candidates. You can definitely see the difference between the candidates that have prepared for an interview and those that have simply rocked up and not given it much thought.

So, how do you succeed at interview especially – if you haven’t been for one for a while.  Here are some tips to help you to interview success:

1. Research 

LinkedIn – Have a look at the profiles of the interviewers and some of their team and senior management. Look for what experience they have, their length of service with the company and if they’ve either been promoted or made any lateral moves – and how often. Remember this is a two-way process so you want to know if people are leaving after a year or so or if people stay and are promoted.

  • Job description – go through the JD and write down against each competency a couple of examples of when you achieved this. If there are any points where you can’t think of anything don’t worry – simply think about what training or support you may need to achieve that.
  • The Company  – have a look at their website, familiarize yourself with their accounts, how many employees there are, what their mission is etc. I remember one interview where the hiring manager’s last question was about the company’s previous day’s share price. Luckily I knew this.  So it is worth spending time to get to know the company.
  • How will you get there –  I remember interviewing someone that would have to walk and then take a long train journey and then a bus.  I was sceptical that they could manage the journey every day and be on time. However, the candidate had checked all the options and worked out that if there was a problem with one method of transport then they had alternative routes. Do consider though if you want a long journey in rush hour every day. If the answer to that is ‘no’ then look  for a role closer to you.

2. CV 

Go through your CV, know the facts and figures that you have stated, the dates when you were at particular companies and be comfortable expanding on any of the achievements listed.

3. Arrive early 

Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. There is nothing worse as the interviewer then meeting a candidate who is hot & sweaty, out of breath and completely stressed out because they were running late. Instead, help yourself by arriving early and grabbing a coffee near by so that you go in to the interview relaxed and in a positive frame of mind.

4. First impressions

  • You only get one chance to make a great first impression so make it count.
  • Smile – when you see the interviewers smile at them, you want to appear approachable.
  • Make eye contact – this can make you look interested and trustworthy.
  • Firm handshake – this can help you look confident.

5. Give examples 

When you answer a question follow it up with a supporting example. That will show the interviewer how you work through problems as well as what experience you have.

6. Questions & next step

Have a couple of questions prepared. These questions may vary depending on your experience level. If you’ve come through a recruitment agency they may have answered, what sort of role you are going for but think about:

  • Why has the position become available?
  • What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
  • How does the company expect these objectives to be met?
  • What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives?
  • What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives?
  • What can you expect from them in terms of development and support?
  • Where will the job fit into the team structure?
  • What’s the best thing about working at the company?
  • What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company?
  • Are there any plans for expansion?
  • How would they describe the company culture and management style?

7. Thank you 

It’s good practice to send an email or a message on LinkedIn after the interview to thank everyone for their time. You can add in that you are interested in the role and that you look forward to hearing from them.

If you’re going for an interview then I wish you all the luck. If one of your friends is going to an interview then please do forward this blog to them and come on over to the website to sign up to the weekly newsletter.


Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching