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Interviews: How to succeed

Interview preparation

Preparing for your interview is the key to success. It will help you feel confident and hopefully ease your nerves. But how do you prepare if you don’t know what to expect? Here are a few tips on ways of preparing for an interview.

Research the company

Being able to speak fluently about the company will increase your chance of success. Knowing their mission and values, their recent projects and some interesting facts will demonstrate the use of your initiative and your enthusiasm for the role and company.

Researching can be daunting, especially if you aren’t sure where to look. Here are a few places you can go to find out more about the company:

  • Their website
  • Their newsletter (if they have one)
  • Social media
  • News (local)
  • Internet 

Take notes

Processing all this information will prove difficult so make notes. 

Begin with the basics:

  • The company name
  • The size of the company
  • What sector are they? Private/public/third sector
  • How many offices are there
  • Where are they located
  • How they started out (brief unless really important)

TIP: Break your notes down into sections and write down where it was that you found that information, make sure it’s a reliable source.

What does the employer do?

What do they do?

  • Their industry- do some research around other competitors (if any)
  • Their mission and values
  • The culture of the organisation
  • What are they trying to achieve?

Any recent news on their website or social media

  • Read about it and have an understanding
  • Flagship projects
  • Key facts about the company
  • Any major changes they have recently gone through

Other ways you can prepare:

Plan some basic questions and write an answer to them. If writing them isn’t for you then you could try a mind map or saying them aloud. Go over them and highlight the buzz words that are key in getting you to stand out.

Prepare a list of interesting questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview have them to hand in a note book so you don’t need to worry about holding them in your memory

Prepare the night before make sure you have a copy of your CV and the job description to hand. Have a pen and other essentials you may need. Ensure your phone is charged and plan your route, giving yourself plenty of time. Have your outfit ready and make sure you eat breakfast.

Follow these steps and you should be fully prepared for the interview! If you think you need to brush up on your interview skills then below will provide you with the skills you need to sail through! 

How to succeed in an interview

Here are a few main pointers to make sure you give the right first impression:

  • Dress appropriately be professional and dress according to the role you are applying for. If you are unsure it’s best to dress more formal rather than casual.
  • Be on time being able to arrive on time demonstrates to the interviewer that you have good time management. This includes not arriving too early as well.
  • Know your CV really well the interviewer may use this to ask you questions so be sure you know, understand and can give plenty of examples.
  • Be polite and friendly this should be not just while you are in the interview room but before and after.
  • Make sure your phone is turned off.
  • Listen to the question don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify what they are asking and take your time, think about what are they wanting to hear.
  • Vocabulary employ words and expressions that you know the company or the sector use.
  • First impressions count this includes a firm handshake, being smiley, using eye contact when you are introduced and a clear voice. This all begins when you meet the receptionist.
  • Know your value have a clear list of your strengths with prepared examples. Know your weaknesses as well, word them so that it is something that you can work on, you don’t want to put them off. A good example would be that you aren’t confident at public speaking. A bad example would be that you are a perfectionist.

Did you know?

7% Of what you are communicating is through your words
38% Is conveyed through your tone of voice
55% Is transmitted through gestures, expressions and posture

Body Language

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you are in the interview:

  • Use a firm handshake this implies that you are strong and confident and sets the tone for the interview to come
  • Smile this shows that you are friendly and open, it will help you look and feel relaxed
  • Eye contact this also exhibits confidence and implies to the interviewer that you are interested and engaged with what they are saying. If there is more than one interviewing you, look at the one who asked the question and glance at the others occasionally to be inclusive. This demonstrates that you are professional and are able to communicate in groups
  • Nod when the interviewer is talking this suggests to the employer that you are engaged with what they are saying
  • Sit up and don’t fold your arms this can be interpreted to be closed and uninterested so make sure your arms are resting on your lap and you are sitting up straight in a comfortable position.

Questions for the employer

Towards the end of the interview the employer will usually ask if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to show that you are interested and engaged. Saying no to this question may imply that you are unprepared and uninterested.

Planning the questions before hand will allow you to put some thought into them. Have at least 3 but 5 would ensure if any are answered in the interview you have extras.

Your questions will show the employer that you are interested and enthusiastic about the role and the company.


  • Yes or no answers
  • Avoid asking a question that has already been covered in the interview, you don’t want the employer to think that you haven’t been paying attention.
  • Leave questions about salary and holiday until you have got the job

Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

  • What is the culture of the organisation like?
  • Can you describe what I would be doing day to day?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?

Remember me!

Sending a follow up email thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know that you are looking forward to hearing from them. This can help you stick in the employers mind and may give you a bonus point.

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