10 tips to ensure interview success

Your skills and experience are perfect for the IT or telecoms job in question and you been invited to an interview. Congratulations! Now you have the chance to shine and to demonstrate why you are the right person for the role. 

Remember, however, that the interview is not just about you securing the job. It is also your opportunity to find out more about what job entails and the team that you will be working with so that you can decide if it would be the right career move for you.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 tips to ensure that you perform at your best in an interview.

Interview tip #1 - Review your CV

Your CV has highlighted your skills, set you apart from the majority of applicants and got you an interview. So, review it thoroughly before the interview takes place and be prepared to talk about all aspects of your career, education and personal interests. Your interviewer will ask you questions based on the information that you have provided. Make sure that you can talk through your experience and skills and show how these are relevant to the job that you have applied for and how they will benefit your prospective employer.

Interview tip #2 - Research the company

The more you know about your potential employer, the better your chances of getting a job. Find out about the company’s history, its main competitors, its role in the community (whether local or national) and its organisational goals and values. Reviewing the company’s social pages such as blogs and LinkedIn can often provide deeper insight than the website alone. Find out if the company has been mentioned recently in the local, national or trade press, or if there are current news stories that could have an effect on its sector. Trade publications are an excellent way of gaining insight into the issues that affect a company’s business sector.

Researching the marketplace will enable you to show that you have an in-depth understanding of the company’s industry/sector as well as its competitors and the other key players.

 
Having plenty of information at your fingertips will improve your confidence while providing you with questions to ask and topics to discuss at the interview

Interview tip #3 – Show that you can add value

In the interview, you need to demonstrate what you can bring to the organisation and how you can grow beyond the job description in order to add value. Use STAR (situation, task, action, result) examples to illustrate your past achievements and to explain how your experience can benefit the company.


It is the interviewer’s job to get the best out of you and to showcase their company to you. Thinking in advance about how you can add value to the company will make their job easier and help you to shine at your interview.

Interview tip #4 – Prepare answers to competency-based questions

You will be asked to demonstrate your skills by giving detailed examples of how you have reacted in certain situations. These skills will often relate to areas such as communication, influencing and management.

Some of the most typical interview questions include:

  • Give me an example of a time when you have had to persuade people that your idea was the best.
  • Give me an example of when you felt that you were out of your depth? How did you handle this?
  • Tell me about some risks that you have taken in your working or professional life? How did you approach these risks? What were the outcomes?
  • Give me an example of when you had to work under a great deal of pressure. What was the outcome?
  • How do you prioritise your workload?
  • When you have had a good result, how have you communicated this?

Interview tip #5 – Know your strengths

Strengths-based interviews are used to find out what candidates enjoy. Their purpose is to be fresh, positive and engaging, offering genuine insights into candidates’ innate aptitudes. Perhaps nothing is more revealing about who you are than what you enjoy.

The questions in a strengths-based interview will be wide-ranging since they are intended to assess your personal attributes. Interviewers want to find out about certain behaviours, such as your ability to work with others or to solve problems. They may also look for assurance that you take pride in what you do. You might find that they ask questions relatively quickly in order to get a genuine response.

Don’t be alarmed if your interview is more of a strengths-based interview than a competence-based interview. Most people come across best when they talk about what they enjoy. Furthermore, assessing what you most enjoy will help you to clarify what you want out of your career, as well as prepare you for questioning from an interviewer who takes a strengths-based approach.

You can identify your strengths by asking yourself:

  • What are you good at?
  • How do you judge if you've had a good day?
  • What gets done first on your 'to do' list? What never gets done?
  • What comes easily to you?
  • What do you learn quickly?
  • What energises and motivates you?
  • When did you achieve something that you were really proud of? What made it significant and what did you learn from the experience?
  • When would your friends and family say you are happiest?
  • What activities come naturally to you?
  • What are your greatest strengths? When do you put them to best use?

Interview tip #6 – Prepare to ask questions

You will always be asked if you have any questions at the end of an interview. For some interviewers, it may simply be the final item on their checklist. This is a big opportunity for you to impress your interviewer and to find out more about the company, however.

It is therefore essential that you prepare insightful questions that will show the recruiter that you have done your homework. Avoid asking questions that reveal too much about you (asking what the social scene is like won’t show you in the best light, for example). Also, avoid questions that repeat what has already been covered during the interview. Some good topics to explore include the company’s vision and values, the training and development opportunities that exist, and the interviewer’s background and history with the company.

Interview tip #7 – Expect the unexpected

Don’t be surprised if the interviewer tries to catch you off-guard. How you react to a surprise question is often a good reflection of your personality and your ability to think on your feet. Treat whatever is thrown at you as a challenge and think things through in a methodical and confident manner.
 
Take your time to answer unexpected questions. If necessary, repeat the question back to the interviewer to make sure you have understood and to buy some time to pull together your response.


Interview tip #8 – Make a good first impression

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make the most of it.

When you meet someone face-to-face, over 90% of how you are perceived is based on non-verbal information, such as your appearance and your body language. Generally, an impression will be formed within the first minute of the interview.
 
The clothes that you wear should be appropriate to the job or organisation so dress smartly and make sure that your outfit is comfortable and fits well. Don’t wear trainers and keep jewellery to a minimum. Look confident and enthusiastic.

After you have been invited to sit down, sit upright and lean forward slightly to show interest in the conversation. It is important to build a rapport with your interviewer so make sure that you look him/her in the eye throughout the interview. Talk positively about results and benefits, and profitability and productivity, in order to show that you are determined to succeed.

Interview tip #9 – Avoid common pitfalls

If you are not familiar with interview protocol and etiquette, you could let yourself down. Here are some basic mistakes to avoid:

  • Poor visual communication. Stand up straight, make good eye contact and listen to what is being said. Never slouch and make sure that your handshake is firm and assured.
  • Poor verbal communication. Answer questions in a clear and precise tone. Take your time to make sure that you are answering the right question. If you are at all unsure, it is best to ask for clarification before trying to second-guess what is being asked. Always avoid jargon, slang or sexual innuendos. Your aim is to sell yourself but you shouldn’t be aggressive.
  • Not asking any questions. Asking questions shows that you are interested in the job, that you have been paying attention and that you have prepared for the interview. Importantly, asking the right questions will also help you to decide whether the job is what you are looking for and whether you want to become part of the company.

Interview tip #10 – Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

It may seem like common sense but you need to ensure that you know the:
  • Time of the interview;
  • Location of the interview and the route to get there. If possible, visit the location prior to the interview;
  • Name and title of the person you are meeting; and
  • Contact telephone number.

Before the interview, print off a map of the interview location and the route that you will be taking. Make sure that your phone is fully charged and leave more than enough time to reach your destination. Finally, once you are at the venue, turn off your phone or switch it to silent.