How to prepare for an interview


Here are a few easy steps to get yourself prepared. Whether you are interviewing for the first time or need a refresher, hopefully this will help you and leave you feeling confident for the big day.


Don’t leave yourself short with this one, make sure you research the company. You can look at their website, online reviews and Companies House (Companies House can give you an idea of where the company is financially). Not only will you have a better idea of what you are potentially getting involved in, but it provides you with ammunition to drop into either your answers, or your questions at the end of the interview.

For example, “I understand that last year your company merged with Company X.  How do you see this affecting the finance department and what will it mean in terms of opportunities for advancement?” It is obvious that if an interviewer is faced with two candidates who are equally suitable for a role, they will favour the one who has put in the effort into researching the company. 

Preparing yourself

It is now common practice for interviewers to focus on key competencies (skills, personality and attitude). Most interviews will follow a structure that is designed to bring out those qualities.  The questions should be answered by giving specific examples from your background that highlight the relevant competencies.  Therefore, it is important to have ready-made examples that you can use on cue.  Go over your CV and recall your greatest achievements.  What were the skills and attitudes that you used to bring about the achievements?  How did you use them?  What did you learn from the experience?  What would you do differently if faced with the same situation again?  By the time of the interview you should be able to give 90 second to 2-minute stories of when and where you used a wide range of competencies.  

Common questions you may be asked

There are no penalties for over-preparing, here are a few questions you could be asked

  • Why do you want to work here? 
  • What did you dislike about your old job? 
  • Where do you see yourself in five year’s time? 
  • What are you biggest accomplishments? 
  • How do you work under pressure? 
  • What are your greatest strengths? 
  • What most interests you about this job? 
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Describe a difficult problem that you have had to deal with?
  • What have you done that shows initiative? 
  • What qualities do you think it needs to be successful in this field? 
  • Do you work better on your own or as part of a team? 
  • What mistakes have you made that you would change if you had a second chance? 
  • Tell me of a time when you had to communicate with people from different levels.  What problems did you encounter? 
  • Give me an example of an event that really challenged you.  How did you overcome the challenge?
  • How have you benefited from your disappointments? 
  • What would you do when you have a decision to make and no procedure exists? 
  • What is your greatest weakness?

Prepare your own Questions

Asking questions in an interview is important, it shows interest and gives you a chance to find out things that aren’t publicised online.

Hold off on asking the norm, for example. Salary, holiday, benefits etc. These you should already know and if you’re unsure, can be discussed in more detail in a second interview or at offer stage. Get them loved up on you first!

Ask power questions, for example. “If I’m fortunate enough to be offered this job, what will make me a success throughout the business”? What is your leadership style?  The employer won’t necessarily be expecting this and shows ambition.

Find out the size of the team and structure, this will give you an idea of the layout and opportunities. Asking about the office environment is also important as you will be spending a lot of time their and need to know that you can click with the current employees.

Make sure you understand why the role is vacant? It could be because of growth, however if it’s because someone is leaving it would be handy to find out why before you commit.

We hope this helps you in your preparations, we would be keen to hear from you to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to reach out to us direct!

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