How to prepare for interviews

Corvus job search

How to prepare for interviews

When it comes to looking for a new job, for many people the interview stage can be the most nerve wracking part of the whole process. The good news is that, with the right preparation and some simple techniques, you can ace it.

At Corvus, we’re in tune with our clients and what they’re looking for when it comes to standing out at interview, which means we’re ideally placed to help you work smart when doing your preparation.

Here are some top tips to help you do the best interview

Do your research

This is the biggest part of acing any interview and your recruitment consultant should really be working with you to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to be fully prepared for any scenario.  Some basics you should be prepared for include:

  • Who will you meeting? 
  • What are they looking for in their next team member?
  • What’s their company culture?
  • What type of interview will it be? For example, an “informal chat”, a chronological conversation about your career to date, a very technical interview, a technical test, a panel interview or a very formal competency based interview.  All of these types of interviews bring their own challenges so knowing what type of interview to expect is crucial in terms of you knowing what to prepare for.

Your consultant will be able to work with you in terms of what areas to focus on and also to give you an insight into the people you’ll be meeting as well as the company culture etc but you will have to do some research of your own as well.  Good places to get good information include:

  • Company website and blogs
  • Any news about the company online such as mergers and acquisitions or investment deals
  • The company’s social media presence will often give you a good idea of what the company’s personality feels like
  • LinkedIn is a great place to not only look at the company page but also the type of people that work there

You also need to make sure that you know exactly where you’re going and ideally have done a trial journey.  There’s no worse way to walk into an interview having done brilliant preparation but not doing yourself justice because you were in a panic about running late or getting lost!

Question time

It can be difficult to know what questions you’re going to be asked in any interview but there are some smart ways to make sure that you’re as well prepared as possible for whatever comes up.

Look at each point of the job spec and compare to your experience – especially the essential criteria but ideally the desirable experience as well

For each of these, think about how you can relate real life work experience in the interview setting, be that in terms of numbers or achievements.  Interviewers love quantifiable answers with factual information rather than generic answers.

If there’s a list of competencies or behaviours on the job spec you need to start thinking in competency based interview mode.  Using the STAR (situation task action result) technique these type of questions needn’t cause you any fear. Once you know how to frame your answers, these questions actually give you a great opportunity to really showcase your achievements and stand out from the crowd!  Your recruitment consultant will work with you to make sure you’re really comfortable in preparing and delivering these answers. 

Let’s face it, every interview is going to be different so you can never be 100% prepared. However, the good news is that there a number of questions that will more often than not be thrown at you.  Sometimes, you get so caught up in preparing for competency based questions that you forget to cover off some of the more standard questions and can end up fumbling them. Examples include:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • The dreaded strengths and weaknesses
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What questions would you like to ask us?
  • What’s your salary expectation?

Fumble any of these questions badly and you could end up going from front runner to runner up.  Your Corvus consultant will work with you to make sure you know the key to tackling these questions and coming out a winner.

First impressions

Always make sure you’re dressed to impress for an interview as first impressions are crucial. Make a bad first impression and it may be difficult to recover and win the interviewers back around. In most instances, a suit is the advisable way to dress but your recruiter will be able to let you know if this isn’t the case where perhaps it’s in a creative industry where individualism and self-expression is more appropriate.   Make sure you don’t overpower anyone with pungent smells be they aftershave, perfume or smoke!

It’s also really important to know that you make a first impression before you even shake hands with your interviewers.  Make sure that you’re professional, polite and likeable from the second you sign in at a security gate or meet the receptionist.  These are potentially your future colleagues and if you make a bad impression, the interviewers are likely to hear about it.

Body language

What you say at an interview is obviously crucial to your success but if your body language is wrong you could be shooting yourself in the foot from the off. You could be giving the best answers in the world but if you’re clicking a pen, looking at the floor or slouching, this is likely to speak louder than what you’re actually saying!

Your recruitment consultant will have heard feedback from hundreds or thousands of interviews and will be able to guide you through this potential minefield!  Some tips include:

  • Smile – you’ll appear confident, friendly and someone people would want to work with
  • A firm confident handshake – not a damp squib or bone crusher
  • Sit upright and look professional – leaning forward can be interpreted as aggressive or overly keen while leaning too far back just looks like you don’t care
  • Don’t cross your arms or less, it can come across as negative or defensive. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and if you’re prone to fidgeting or always “speak with your hands”, as a lot of us do, rest your palms on your knees to avoid giving off too much nervous energy
  • Get the eye contact balance right – constant eye contact with one person can come across as aggressive but equally if you don’t have any eye contact there’s no opportunity to connect with the interviewers. If there’s more than one person interviewing you, which there normally will be, this is a good opportunity to maintain good but non-aggressive eye contact by engaging with both (or more) interviewers.

If you follow these simple tips and work with your Corvus consultant to prepare for each specific interview, you should be able to walk into any interview situation with the confidence that your experience and achievements deserve!  If you can do that it’s easier to get across that you are the best person for the job both in terms of your experience but also as a person.

If you’re ready to find your new career challenge, get in touch with one of our specialist recruiters today on +44 (0) 28 9091 8529 or email and we’ll be in touch.