Your complete guide to preparation and different types of interviews

Paul Roche our consultant managing the role
Author: Paul Roche

Interviews can be a really daunting experience, even for the most polished and experienced professionals. Preparation is key to ensuring you put your best foot forward during the process.

That is why we have helpfully collated key pieces of advice from our most experienced consultants to help you prepare for your next interview. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • How to prepare before your interview 
  • The interview day: punctuality and presentation
  • How to talk about your interview experience 
  • How to prepare for different interview types 
  • Bonus tips on interview success

If you are looking for support in your journey, that's where our seasoned consultants step in at Marks Sattin, sharing invaluable insights and expert advice tailored to equip you for success in your upcoming interview.

How to prepare before your interview

Interview preparation starts with research. Find out as much as you can about the company you are applying to - their products/services, scale, structure etc. 

There are a few other sources you can try to find this information, the most reliable would be the company website, their LinkedIn profile and Companies House

Key preparations before your interview

  • Check the location before the day and explore alternative options for transport
  • Read through the job description, and know where your role will fit into the organisation
  • Expect the interviewer to do a CV walkthrough, spend some time going through your CV, and make sure to familiarise yourself with your previous roles and projects along with dates
  • Be prepared for any technical questions that could arise from reviewing your CV
  • Be prepared to explain your reasons for leaving each role
  • Have a mental note of all key achievements in each role

The interview day: punctuality and presentation 

Plan to arrive 15 minutes early, always leave plenty of time, assume you are going to be held up and check for traffic reports if necessary. 

It's also a good idea to have a contact telephone number for your consultant or the hiring manager to hand, just in case something crops up. 

In an interview, presenting yourself professionally, showcasing confidence, and articulating your skills and experiences effectively are key to making a strong impression. 

If the interview is face-to-face opt for professional and well-fitted clothing that aligns with the company's culture and industry norms. 

 
 
    • Introduce yourself politely
    • Arrive on time or early if possible
    • Turn your mobile phone off during the interview
    • Express yourself clearly
    • Body language, smiling and making eye contact during an interview can go a long way
    • Show how your experience can benefit the company
    • Ask questions concerning the company for which you are being interviewed
    • Show willingness to learn and progress
    • Be assertive without being aggressive.
    • Prepare 10 relevant questions; you will probably cover five in the interview
    • Refrain from answering questions with a yes or no - expand where possible
    • Answer all questions truthfully and honestly
    • Stay positive about previous employers
    • Show that you have put time and energy into planning your career and that this is a crucial step toward your future
    • Do not talk about the salary and benefits package - getting an offer is the main priority and salary negotiations will follow
    • For every responsibility/requirement on the job specification, ensure you have at least one example of an experience or a transferable skill that covers that requirement for the interview

Talking about your experience  

Keep examples recent and relevant from the last five years, and use a variety of different examples. It is often seen as a weakness to use the same scenario for different questions. 

If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. Take your time in answering a question – it is better to give a decent answer after a few seconds pause, rather than a garbled, nonsensical answer immediately. 

Avoid clichéd answers to questions such as “I’m a great team player”, which you cannot back up with examples from the workplace. Think about the different interviewers’ motivations: 

  • When interviewed by HR their main concern will be to ensure that you fit the company culture, but won’t necessarily be able to assess your ability to do the job. These types of interviews are usually more informal in nature for this reason. 
  • A line manager will be able to test your skills and assess whether they will be able to work with you on a daily basis

Different types of interviews and how to prepare for them

    • Competency-based interviewing is a series of scenario-based questions designed to examine your strengths across a number of soft skills.

      The idea behind this type of question, where you are asked to give a specific example of a real-life situation in the workplace, is that the interviewer is able to determine how you would react to different situations in the workplace, based on how you behaved in the past.


      A competency question will start with something like …. “Describe a situation when……” or “Tell me about a time when…..” It is important that you respond accordingly, with one specific example, rather than saying what you would, could or should do. 

      Prepare examples for each of the competencies; and rehearse your answers. Remember that the word ‘we’ should not form part of your answer, replace it with ‘I’. It is you they want to hear about. The hiring manager, after all, is looking to hire you, not your team.

      The STAR technique

      To prepare yourself for the competency questions you will need to understand the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method of structuring your answer. 

      The STAR technique enables you to showcase your relevant experience with the interviewer in a methodical manner. We recommend looking at each bullet point in the job description and preparing a STAR response to each so that you are equipped with some great examples to quote. 

      Depending on the industry and sector you are applying for, the types of interview questions may differ. For example, in a technology competency-based interview, you can expect questions about specific technical skills, problem-solving abilities, past project experiences, and your approach to handling technological challenges relevant to the role you're applying for.

    • As a minimum, you should brush up on the company’s business structure, clients, products, industry terminology, or anything else that may relate to the position you are applying for. 

      Spending an hour or two researching these things before a telephone interview can make a great impression on your interviewers and possibly land you a second interview or even a job.


      Always remember:

      • Keep a glass of water handy
      • Smile - this will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice
      • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly, be careful not to speak over the interviewer
      • Keep your CV in clear view, on the top of your desk, so it is at your fingertips when you need to answer questions
      • Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review
      • Have a pen and paper handy for note-taking
      • Make sure your phone is charged and you are in an area with good reception
    • Similarly, to telephone interviewing, you must brush up on the company’s business structure, clients, products, industry terminology, or anything else that may relate to the position you are applying for. Spending time researching before a video interview can make a great impression on your interviewers and possibly land you a second interview or even a job.


      Always remember:

      Keep a glass of water handy

      Choose your room wisely

      Do a test run to ensure the tech works for you

      Speak slowly and enunciate clearly, be careful not to speak over the interviewer

      Make sure your laptop or tablet if using one is charged and you are in an area with good reception

      • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way
      • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem
      • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done
      • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split-second decision
      • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example
      • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa)
      • Tell me about a difficult decision you have made in the last year
      • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish failed
      • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision
      • What do you expect from this role?

Final reminders for your interview:

  • If late, only apologise once
  • Remember what you have said to each interviewer. It is fine to duplicate information across the interviews, but make sure you are not repeating yourself to the same person. Sometimes, interviewers may have a short chat between interviews and the second interviewer may be given the task of probing a particular area, so expect some repetition
  • Never say overly negative things about your current employer or reasons for leaving
  • Focus on the future, not on the past
  • How Marks Sattin can guide you through the interview process 

    Feedback is a great learning opportunity for you and even the very best candidates often need several interviews in order to secure their ideal role. 

    If you are working with a recruiter or Marks Sattin, it is essential that you call the respective party and provide prompt feedback after your interview. 

    Whether it is positive or negative, it is essential that you take it on board and use it for future interviews. 

    When you do secure a new role, Marks Sattin can help to support you from handing in your resignation letter all the way to successful onboarding. 


    Explore career opportunities on our website, work with our experienced recruiters today, and navigate through your interviews today.

    04/12/23
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