The Successful Interview

The Phone Call:

You have a superlative CV and LinkedIn profile. You are busy applying for work through recruitment agencies, Indeed, and

On Tuesday afternoon, a recruitment agent phones you to say, “XYZ plc would like to interview you for the role of purchasing manager. Are you available to meet with Mr. Smith production director, and Ms. Jones HR manager at 2pm on Thursday afternoon?” You reply, “Yes I am available.”

The recruitment agent follows up with a confirmation email.

You have approximately 48 hours to prepare for the interview. How should you prepare?


Preparing for Your Interview:

It is vital that you approach interview preparation with a positive mindset. See yourself as the best candidate for the job. Anticipate the type of questions you will be asked at the interview. Many companies use competency based or behavioural based interviewing techniques to determine if you have the core skills they are looking for. Know your preferred style of working, and your key strengths and skills.

Take time to research XYZ plc online. Who are their main competitors? What differentiates XYZ plc from the competition? What are their core products or services? What is their annual turnover?

If there are any gaps on your CV anticipate a question, and have your answer prepared beforehand.


The Interview:

It’s Thursday afternoon. Make sure to arrive at XYZ plc ahead of time. When you are called for your interview, create a positive first impression. Smile and shake hands firmly with your interviewer.

Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. If you are an extrovert, ensure you control your energy level. You don’t want to appear as overpowering. If you are an introvert, you may need to increase your energy level. You don’t want to give the impression of being too timid.

When an interviewer asks you a question, pause before you speak. You will give the interviewer a favourable impression of you, because you are seen to think before you speak. Don’t pause too long though. The interviewer will get the impression you are searching for answers to their question and you have not prepared adequately.

The interviewer may ask you some open ended questions like “Tell me all about yourself in 2 minutes” to get you to relax and engage in a conversation. Use the 2 minutes to the fullest extent to describe yourself as a professional person, your achievements, and career goals.

The interviewer will then move on to more structured competency based questions. When answering these questions, use the STAR technique. Outline the situation you were involved in. Describe the task you were asked to complete. Outline what actions you took to complete the task. Finally explain the results of your actions.

If you are being interviewed by a panel of people, what should you do? Make initial eye contact with the person who asked you the question. Then scan from one face to the next, remembering to pause briefly and include the other panel members. Then return your attention to the person who asked the question to conclude your answer.


Concluding the Interview:

Competency based interviews usually last for one hour. It is normal for interviewers to say, “Have you any questions you would like to ask”?

This is an opportune time to show you have done research on XYZ plc. Ask strategic questions about XYZ plc and the business sector they compete in. This proves you are capable of analysing information and asking key questions.

When the interview has concluded smile and shake hands firmly with each member of the interview panel.

Second Round Interviews:

Many companies use competency based interviews to select a small number of candidates for a second round interview with senior management. Second round interviews can be more “full on”, to see how you cope under pressure, and if you can think on your feet.

The person with responsibility for deciding who gets appointed as purchasing manager of XYZ plc, may place a greater emphasis on interpersonal skills compared to technical ability. Therefore, it is vital that you create a positive first impression and connect with the interviewer.


Without doubt, the jobs market is going to tighten post the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers will soon be able to draw from a larger pool of well qualified candidates for key roles. If you would like to prepare well for a job interview, please call me. I will be happy to guide you based on my own experience. I look forward to hearing from you.

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