Preparing for and performing at interviews

Posted 28/3/2019 by Jane Gibb

There are lots of recruitment companies out there. We’re different. We work as partners in your career – doing all we can to help you find the career of your dreams.

The career you want comes down to a whole host of factors – it’s not just about your ability to do the job, but also your ability to impress potential employers. We’re recruitment experts, with vast experience of guiding candidates through the recruitment process. Here are a few interview tips to help you through:


In summary:

  • Research the industry and company
  • Ensure you fully understand the job description and the format of the interview
  • Anticipate any concerns or reservations
  • Think of some potential questions your interviewer may ask
  • Have your list of questions prepared
  • Be assertive and take responsibility for the interview
  • Be ready to handle appropriate competency questions
  • Be positive


Research the company

Interviewers expect candidates to have a good grasp of what their organisation does. When researching the company, consider aspects like: how big the company is, how it’s divided up, who their customers are, and who their main competitors are – as well as any recent developments or plans within the company.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to add value to the conversation, whilst showing a genuine interest in what they do.


Read the job description

When it comes to interview preparation, the job description is your go to.

The job description will drill down on responsibilities and required personal qualities to help you to understand more about what the role entails and will also give you an insight into what the interviewee is looking for.

We recommend, tailoring answers and relating them to the job description as much as possible, providing examples that support why you are the best candidate for the role.


Figure out the format

Interviews can take a number of forms – from one-on-one and group interviews, to position-specific tests, role plays, competency based interviews and psychometric questionnaires. And each one will require a different type of preparation.

Often, this will be explained by your consultant when you’re invited to the interview, but there’s no harm in asking for more information if needed. Researching online to find out how the process has worked for other people in your situation will also help you to figure out what to expect.


What is a competency based interview?

Competency-based interviews use questions which aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges. Also called behavioural or situational questions, they are often used in the first interview.

The competencies will differ from employer to employer and from role to role, but some of the most common competencies include:


  • Teamwork
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Commercial awareness


“Tell me about a time you’ve had to answer a competency question…”


Competency questions have become so popular in modern recruitment that there’s almost no hiding from them. Often characterised by an opening such as ‘Tell me about a time…’ or ‘Give an example of how…, these types of interview questions strip back the importance often placed on experience and qualifications.

Instead, their primary function is to test how well you can do the job at hand, according to your attributes.


How to answer competency based interview questions

Firstly, pick out some of the key competencies stated in the job description and think of some examples for each one.

If the company is looking for someone with excellent teamwork and leadership skills, think of a scenario in which you’ve demonstrated this.


What is the STAR approach?

If you’re not used to answering competency-based interview questions, the STAR model is a useful way of communicating key points clearly and concisely.

Once you’ve identified the ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’ or ‘Result’, formulate it into a short key point, making sure you include how you achieved the result and how your actions addressed the initial situation and task.


Pre-Employment screening

With the potential impact of many IT, technology and data-focused roles, many employers are understandably focused on security. As such, it’s likely that any contract or permanent role will involve some kind of background check.


So, you sailed through the first interview, and they asked you back…

While some interview preparations remain the same, there can be key differences when it comes to the types of questions asked by employers, and the answers expected of you in a second interview.

How can a second interview differ from the first?

A first interview is generally used to test your personality and basic abilities, but the competition intensifies when it comes to the second stage.

What an employer really wants to know now is what separates you from the other candidates, what your technical abilities are, and the logistics involved when it comes to a firm offer. This way they can more easily make a direct comparison between remaining candidates.

In addition, second interviews are often an opportunity for other key members of staff at a prospective employer to meet and question a shortlist of the best candidates.


Good luck!

As a candidate-led recruitment business, we actually care about your career – we’re interested in who you are, how you think and what you’re aiming for in life. For more information on the services we offer, visit the candidate section of our website or just get in touch for a confidential chat. We’d love to hear from you!



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