How to Succeed in an Interview

Your CV has done its job and landed you the interview, but interviews are notoriously nerve-wracking at the best of times. Relax. They like you, you fit the bill, and you can get through your interview – with a few handy hints from us!

No Second Chance to Make a First Impression

Obviously you’ll turn up smartly dressed, but don’t overlook simple details like polishing shoes. Look smart and together to create the right impression immediately. Just to reiterate – you have got this far so take confidence from the fact that you are right for the job. You have the skills, qualifications and experience they need. Breathe deeply, stand tall, drop your shoulders and relax. Make eye contact, offer a firm and confident handshake and smile as you introduce yourself. Basics, yes, but concentrating on this will allow you some breathing space and time to relax and avoid gushing or nervously stammering. However, interviewers understand nervousness so don’t worry too much about it, either.

Fail to Prepare = Prepare to Fail

As with virtually anything in life preparation is key. Research the company, the department, and the role itself to give you plenty to mention when you’re asked if you have any questions. It will also show real interest if you’re able to ask questions throughout the interview – an interview should be a two-way process, a conversation and this should demonstrate your knowledge too. As employment professionals, we can offer some helpful advice.

You can also practise interview questions – there are questions which will be asked in virtually every interview, in any sphere, so it makes sense to have appropriate answers ready. Even if they’re not the exact questions, such preparation will give you something to go on:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Show ambition but not power hunger.
  • What are your strengths? Don’t be afraid to sell yourself here, but do have tangible examples.
  • What are your weaknesses? Be honest – but not too honest. Many negatives can be turned into positives – perhaps you struggle to delegate because you take such pride in the job, or maybe time management is an issue because you take on so much. Detail the steps you’re taking to address any shortcomings.
  • What will you bring to the staff room? (Judge the mood. ‘Cakes’ may be an ice-breaking answer, but do be prepared to follow up with a serious alternative.)
  • What is your proudest moment or achievement? Do try to make this professional. Football medals are good, but not necessarily what they’re looking for in an accountant.

Above all, be yourself, but never forget to sell yourself professionally. You won’t go far wrong if you bear in mind the interviewer is usually thinking ‘what’s in it for us?’, and always answer accordingly.