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Candidates : Interview Advice

What Influences the Interviewer
The more you know about how you will be perceived, the more you can prepare. From a survey of recruiters, the qualities that influenced them were, in priority:

  • Your personality, how you present yourself in the interview
  • Your experience
  • The qualifications you have for the position
  • Your background and references
  • The enthusiasm you have towards the organisation and position.

Interview Dos and Don'ts


  • Answer the question that is asked and do not volunteer irrelevant information.
  • Keep your answer concise and concentrate on the facts not opinions.
  • Speak clearly and confidently and do not allow yourself to be discouraged.
  • Constantly remind yourself that you have something to sell and focus on how you can make a positive contribution in the role.


  • Try to be too clever.
  • Lie, pretend or give evasive answers.
  • Lose your temper, get flustered, panic.
  • Criticise your former employers.

A few points to bear in mind when you are at an interview...

  • Don't be afraid to ask for clarification on any questions.
  • Remember that the cost to an employer of recruiting the wrong person can be very expensive.
  • The employer is also under a lot of pressure to make the right decision and may be just as nervous as you are!
  • Try to relax and enjoy the interview. The more relaxed you are, the better you will perform on the day.

Interview Preparation Tips

  • Research the company, its competitors, position in the marketplace and challenges/developments within the industry.
  • Prepare a list of questions that you think might be asked and plan your answers. A useful tip is to look at the job description - this should enable you to define the qualities the recruiter is looking for and emphasise the skills and experiences that you have which best demonstrate them.
  • Think of any questions you would like to ask the recruiter about the company and the position you are applying for.

The Interview

Employers expect candidates to:

  • Dress smartly
  • Arrive on time
  • Relax and be themselves
  • Listen carefully to questions, think before they speak and actually answer the question asked
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Focus on what they can offer them
  • Emphasise their skills and experiences directly relevant to the position. If their degree is not vocational, they should describe the transferable skills they have and their involvement in extra-curricular activities
  • Go armed with examples of the company's competencies, e.g. where they are market leaders.

Employers will not recruit candidates who:

  • Denigrate themselves
  • Criticise their course, tutor or current employer
  • Give the impression that they only applied because something else didn't materialise
  • Mention other applications.

Questions often asked at interviews

  • Why are you interested in this position? How much do you know about the job you have applied for?
  • What do you like doing best/least in your current position?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What skills could you bring to the job?
  • What kind of people do you like to work with or what people do you find it difficult to work with?
  • Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?
  • What do you know about our company? What is your opinion of our company?
  • Can you work under pressure? Describe any incident when you have had to do so.
  • How do you see your future?
  • What was the most responsible duty you carried out in your job? Who did you report to?
  • What is your health record?
  • How would you handle difficult clients/customers?
  • Why did you leave your last position? Why do you want to leave your present company?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • What are your leisure interests?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What motivates/de-motivates you?
  • What is your greatest achievement?
  • What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?
  • What did you learn from this?
  • Why have you moved employers a lot?
  • Would you be prepared to relocate?
  • How would employees describe your management style?
  • Why should I employ you in this position?
  • What is the hardest thing that you have had to overcome?
  • What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
  • How do you like to be managed?

Questions that need to be asked at interviews

  • I'd like to know more about the company. Is there a guide?
  • Who will I be working for?
  • Who will I be working with? How many people in the department?
  • Are there promotion prospects - to what post and when?
  • What are the exact hours I'll be working?
  • Are there any periods when business peaks? What effect will this have on the job if any?
  • Are there any training schemes from which I may benefit?
  • What is the exact salary and are there fringe benefits?
  • When is the salary reviewed?
  • What computer system is used?

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