Step 5: The interview

job interview

Types of interviews

You will be asked to attend one of the following types of interviews:

Skills based including testing – you may be asked to complete a test onsite during your interview. Make sure you ask your agency or the person organising the interview whether any testing is due to take place so that you are prepared. You can practice some example tests here.

CV based – the questions will be directed at the information on your CV and the relevance to the role. This interview will revolve around the information you have provided so make sure you are familiar with your CV. You can take a copy with you to the interview.

Informal/casual interview off site – do not be fooled, just because an interview is classed as casual always air on the side of caution and attend in business attire. Treat the interview like you would any other.

Structured 3 stage interview – a 3 Stage interview will consist of a drawn-out interview process. It will often involve reference/educational checks, meeting more than one individual and sometimes presentations depending on the role. Make sure that you have all the information readily available and expect the unexpected.

Work based – you may be asked to do a trial with the company so make sure you have not over sold your ability or skills.


Stages and structure of an interview

stages of an interview

An interview tends to run as follows:

Introduction to the company and an overview of your interviewer’s role within the organisation
The first stage of the interview will be for the interviewer to introduce themselves and the company. They may go into their role and what part the play in the company. This is a good time to take notes, listen and do not interrupt.

The interviewer may ask you what you know of the company and this is your opportunity to put all that research to good use, this will not go unnoticed and shows you are serious about the role.

Overview of the role and its requirements
The interviewer will tell you about the job role and why the requirement for a new staff member has come about. This is your opportunity to learn more about the role and see where the role lies within the organisation, career prospects, duties and what the role has to offer you.

Questioning to assess your skill, personality and motivation
The interviewer will ask you a selection of both structured and person-specific questions which are designed to test your knowledge of the role, your personality and assess your suitability for the post.

CV review
Some interviewers will have been through your CV with a fine-tooth comb so make sure you know your dates, duties and career history so that you can give good responses to any questions asked.

Ensure any career gaps and breaks are accounted for so that your CV is up to date and has accurate information on. Make sure you talk about key achievements and skills that may give you an edge on other applicants.

Inform you of the next stages of the interview and what to expect
If interviewing through an agency the interviewer may tell you that all feedback and next stages will be coordinated through your agency.

Ask the interviewer when they expect to make a decision and what the next stage will involve. Most interviewers will give this information freely but if they are reluctant to tell you leave it to your agency to coordinate.

If interviewing directly the interviewer will give you a time line of when you can expect feedback, how many interviews will be taking place and when they plan to make a decision.


How does each interview stage differ?

interview stages

Some companies only have a one stage interview process, but the majority have two to three. Each stage is structured differently.

One stage interview process
Encompasses the full questioning process in one meeting. You will most probably be interviewed by more than one individual. It is likely that, if a company is holding a one stage interview, they need to fill the vacancy quickly.

You should be prepared to answer an array of interview questions including personal, skills related and probing. Make sure you understand why the vacancy has come about and show that you are keen to move at the same pace as the company.

You may have to answer questions like, ‘’how quickly can you start?’’ so make sure you know what types of questions are likely to come up.

Two stage interview process
1st stage involves the initial meeting, introduction to the company, overview of the role, questions about your CV and suitability.

2nd stage usually involves a meeting with another member of the team, testing, reference details, availability and salary expectations.

Three stage interview process
Stages 1 and 2, as detailed above, will be followed. In stage 3 you may be asked to do a presentation on why you are suitable for the role. You will also be able to negotiate a package and start date.


Where do I start?!

interview where to start

Search online and look at the company website. This is always a good place to start your preparation. You will be able to identity what the company does/what services it offers, how it is conveyed to the public and what image the company projects to the public.

As you work through the company website there are a few things to make a note of;

  • Have they won any awards and what sectors/industry do they operate in?
  • Who is the competition?
  • Is the person interviewing me on here? If yes, what information is there on them?
  • Do they have a news section? If yes, what are the recent stories?
  • Try looking on social media for the company’s accounts and follow them. If you’re on LinkedIn try connecting with people who you know will be interviewing you.


Preparing yourself for the interview

preparing yourself for an interview

Most interviewers tend to work to a similar line of questioning. Asking applicants specific questions designed to test your knowledge of your potential employer and the role that you have applied for. Make sure you’ve done your homework! 

By doing your homework, you will convey to your potential employer that you have taken the time to investigate the company history, are suitable for the role and share the company ethos.  

It is essential that you give yourself an adequate amount of time to prepare for the interview.

Ensure that you know your facts:

  • Make sure you know where the interview is taking place, what time and who to ask for when you arrive.
  • If the interview is local, do a dry run travel wise.
  • Get your suit ready the night before and have your paperwork ready to go when you wake up.
  • When attending an interview make sure that all paperwork, CV’s, references and application forms are in a neat bag or folder to convey a corporate image.


Take a methodical approach and analyse yourself

analyse yourself prior to interview

The night before your interview we strongly suggest that you do the following to ensure you are ready for the day ahead:

  • Sit down and review your CV making sure that you know all career dates and your key achievements from each role.
  • Make notes on what you want to ask.
  • Make notes on parts of your CV that relate to the job role and job specifications.


Preparing for a telephone interview

telephone interview

Some employers will try to save time on interviewing by conducting telephone interviews. Do not be alarmed! This does not mean that the interview is any less important; this simply saves the interviewer time and will allow them to sift through applicants more quickly.

First things first….

  • Write down 2-3 questions you would like to ask at the end of the call to show an interest in your interviewer and the company.
  • Prior to the telephone interview make sure you have printed off the job description, your CV, and any information you have learned about the company.
  • Keep a pad and pen handy to make any notes during the interview.

Take a deep breath and focus on the job in hand. It is important to make sure that you have a quiet spot to take the call so lock yourself away from any disturbances.

It is important to consider the following during your telephone interview:

  • Keep your voice calm and smile as this will come across over the telephone.
  • Listen and do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Give clear, relevant answers to each question and do not ramble due to nerves.
  • Remember that this is a potential employer, not a friend so keep conversation business like as this is still an interview.


Attending an interview and what to expect on the day

attending an interview

On the day of your interview there are a number of points that you will need to consider in order for the process to flow smoothly:

  • Dress appropriately – it’s better to be overdressed than under
  • Be punctual – arrive 15 minutes prior to the interview time
  • Be prepared – make sure you have a copy of your CV, cover letter, application form and any research you have done on the company

When arriving at your interview make sure that you have given yourself 10-15 minutes to compose yourself and take some notes with you to familiarise yourself with what the role requires and how you can meet those requirements.

Make sure you have the name of the person you are meeting, and a contact number should you be unable to find the office/department.

Your interviewer will either meet you in reception or you will be shown to a meeting room. Take this time to take in your surroundings… are there any awards on the walls or details of the company’s history that you could refer to during interview?

Be perceptive and interact with any member of staff you may meet whilst waiting for the interview to begin. You never know who you might be talking to!


What are the signs that an interview went well?

interview went well

Length of interview – you were in the interview for longer than expected when you were told the interview would last 30 minutes but you have been in there for an hour!

You met more than one person – you were halfway through the interview and your interviewer introduced you to another member of the team.

Questions asked –  the interviewer asked you your salary expectations and availability.

Second interview – you were asked when you could attend a second interview. This shows commitment from the interviewer and suggests that they feel you may be suitable for the role.

Personal questions – you were asked about any holiday commitments or planned leave.

You are offered the job – enough said!


What are the signs that an interview did not go so well?

interview didn't go well

Below are some inclinations that an interview may not have gone according to plan. Always ask for feedback having attended an interview.

The interview lasted under 10 minutes.

The interviewer told you that they are second interviewing a candidate.

The interviewer mentioned they have offered the role but are waiting feedback.

The interviewer mentioned that they have several other people to interview and they will get back to you in due course.


Final tip – ask for feedback!

interview feedback

It is imperative that you ask for feedback after EVERY interview, whether this is from a recruitment agency or a company direct.

No one wants to hear their faults but you will also hear your strengths and have the opportunity to work on improving how you present yourself, conduct yourself, and what you can improve on to impress during interview.  

Overview of the 10 Steps
You can find out more information about each step here.