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Plan for a successful interview


Preparation is the key

Have clear objectives before the interview and be well prepared. Essential tasks and aims should include; 

  • be better prepared than the other applicants and make the final shortlist

  • research the company - the whole business, not just the area you're applying for a job in.

  • read the company literature - note key names (Chairman, MD's, managers) know the history, product range etc.

  • have questions to ask - use your research; ask about growth plans, business structure, training, career progression 

  • don't initiate talk of salary and benefits but respond honestly if asked. Salary is best discussed at further meetings after reflecting on the role, the company, your interest, suitability etc. 

  • be prepared for personal questions - respond honestly, politely and with confidence.

  • know current interview and test formats i.e. competency, behavorial, 360 Degree, SJT, psychometric, EQ test.

  • practice likely questions and answers, especially those about workplace strengths and weaknesses.


Dress to impress

Look business like and mature - classic and traditional is good. Darker colours are better than lighter, polished black shoes are better than brown. Clean hair and nails are recommended. No novelty ties or joke jewellery! A friendly smile, a firm handshake and frequent eye contact all create a positive, lasting impression. 


The Interview

Body language and non-verbal clues

"Body language" contributes nearly two thirds to our verbal credibility and positive non-verbal cues are effective. Sit back in the chair but keep your posture forward - a crossed 'low legs' position is recommended. Don't tap your feet or fingers, wring your hands or shuffle nervously in the chair!

Positive non-verbal cues include;

  • a high smile rate

  • a "thoughtful, considered" nod when the interviewer is speaking

  • lean slightly forward (but don't invade the interviewer's personal space)

  • a high level of eye contact but don't stare!


Three basic types of questions

Interviewers focus on three basic questions;

  • Can you do the job? - this is about experience, track record, achievements - the "what you have done" stuff. About 60% of the interview time - aim to deliver relevant information about your skills and experience.

  • Will you do the job? - how hard working are you? Will you be loyal? Are you self-motivated or need constant pushing to complete tasks? Your answers can persuade a hirer that you do more than just fulfil a basic contract. Your commitment to personal excellence indicates that you're both positive and capable.

  • Will you fit in? - will you suit the corporate image? If not, it's unlikely you'll be offered a job and fitting in is more important for senior roles. Ensure you're aware of the company's vision and values beforehand - you're more likely to be shortlisted if you agree with the company ethos. 


Popular interview questions

Formats differ but common questions include;

  • why do you want this job?

  • what do you know about our organisation?

  • what are your major achievements?

  • what are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • what do you look for in a manager?

  • what motivates you?

  • describe a difficult work situation and what you did about it?

  • how do you deal with conflict at work?

  • why are you unhappy in your present job?

  • why have you stayed so long (or so briefly) with your current firm?

  • what makes you think you can be successful here?

  • how long do you expect to stay with us?

  • why do you want to leave your present firm?

  • do you prefer working alone or within a team?

  • what do you think of your current manager?


Closing technique

Usually, the interviewer will thank you and ask if you have any further questions. Unless it's vital don't have further questions at this stage. Read the interviewer's body language - if they're shuffling papers and fidgeting, they probably have another meeting and don't have the time.

Sum up with, "It's been an enjoyable meeting. I think you've covered everything and I'm interested in the role. Yes, I'd like to be part of your plans and hope to hear from you soon". This confirms your interest, tells the interviewer that you've listened and understood the relevant points.

As you, thank the hirer and offer a firm handshake - keep it positive and brief!


After the interview

Call your recruiter with feedback and say if you're interested; offer comments other than "it seemed to go well".

If you're a direct applicant, contact the interviewer if they invited you to. You're unlikely to be offered every job, every time! Don't despair; reflect on your performance and any feedback - learn from avoidable mistakes and how to promote yourself better next time. 



Resigning is daunting so focus on the benefits of the new role and why you've been looking to change jobs. Be confident and positive, and look for a win-win outcome when resigning. You're leaving to develop your skills and career prospects and vacating a role for a colleague to possibly be promoted into. Draft a brief, informative resignation letter, thanking your employer for the time and training you've enjoyed. Speak privately with your manager and give your letter to him/her and/or HR.

Colleagues will be supportive and want to hear how you get on, and if there are any other jobs available!

Considerations at the resignation stage include:


The counter offer

Your company may counter offer you to stay. Flattering? Yes, but is it an offer made only as a reaction to another firm tempting you away. You may hear; 


  • "we are going to promote you soon" and/or "we are going to increase your salary" etc.

  • "if you stay we will reflect it in your bonus next year"


Implications of the counter offer

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why has it taken a new job offer for my firm to recognize me?

  • If I stay will my loyalty be questioned?

  • Will the proposed changes and pay rise actual happen?

  • Will this affect future promotion chances and salary increases?


Often, workers who accept a counter offer seek a new job again within six months, or are made redundant. And a pay rise is often found from a future budget leaving less for the next round of pay negotiations.


Be objective about a career decision, free of emotional pressure from an employer panicking about losing you. Take advice but trust your judgement - only you understand the full implications of a career move. Reflect on the compelling aspects of the new role that motivated you to accept the offer.


A counter offer is late recognition of value you've already added - why weren't you rewarded before? It's best to

move on; you'll soon become as valuable to your new company, who will appreciate your best efforts! 

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