Tips for Succeeding at Interviews

Have you ever felt nervous going into an interview, those butterflies in your stomach which make it so difficult to concentrate on presenting yourself in the best light?  Here are my top tips for succeeding at interviews.




  1. Remember, you are not the only person who has a problem. The recruiter also has a problem. They have a vacancy that they need to fill. And they need to fill it with the right person. If the role was not absolutely necessary to the wellbeing of the organisation, they would not be advertising. Therefore, look upon yourself as the potential answer to their problem. It’s a business partnership.
  2. Do some research into the prospective employer whether large or small. What they choose to say about themselves in their website is important to them so think creatively about how you would be a match for them in helping them to maintain their reputation, keep their promises and achieve their goals. Make notes about this to take into the interview in a folder. It will help you make convincing statements about yourself and to ask pertinent questions at or before the interview. Of course, if you know someone who already works there, ask them about the organisation, the job advertised and who your boss would be.
  3. Make a phone call to check on the dress code expected at the interview and in the job later. Don’t over-dress and don’t use a very “heady” perfume. It can be a distraction.
  4. Consider the interview from the hirer’s point of view. If you were them, what would you want to know? What questions would you ask about things on the cv that the applicant submitted (yours)? A popular question is “Tell us a little about yourself” and another is “What would you say are your strong points?” and “What are your weaknesses?” You will have prepared responses to these in advance. If you are uncomfortable when saying good things about yourself preface it with: ”A number of people have said…”g.  ”A number of people have said that they like the way that I can listen to what they are saying while still getting on with the job.” If you offer a weak point, choose something that could be a strength in disguise. E.g.; “I feel it is important to do things to the very best of my ability, so I can find myself over-critical of my work.” You could be pleasantly surprised at how accurate your prediction of their questions might be.
  5. Prepare one or two questions of your own. If you link them to things you have seen on the website, that will be impressive. Questions about where the job fits into the hierarchy are useful. ”Who would I be reporting to?” Is a valid question. “Does the organisation encourage working from home?” is another sensible question.
  6. Be sure you know how to get to the interview venue, including parking availability, and allow plenty of time for the journey and finding your way in the venue building. This will help you to keep calm and cool.




  1. When you arrive at the venue, look confident. If you have to report your arrival to a receptionist or PA, be friendly and courteous. Potential bosses often consult such people for their impressions.
  2. If you are asked to wait in an area, use the time to browse the contents of your folder. This will help you to avoid unconsciously fiddling with your hands or pacing up and down.
  3. When you enter the room of the interview, smile gently as you approach the chair you are beckoned to. Carry your folder at your side. Avoid using it as a “shield” held tightly across your front. Stand by the chair until invited to sit.
  4. Sit as upright as possible.
  5. Be comfortable with allowing yourself to pause before you respond to a question. Even if you have the perfect answer, pausing to think about the question can give a good impression.
  6. When answering questions, maintain eye contact with the asker, glancing also at any others involved. Move your gaze around their face to avoid giving a penetrating stare.
  7. If you can, avoid using the same word to start each sentence such as “Basically….”, “So….”, Using phrases like “I wondered if you might ask that…” or simply “That’s an interesting question….” are likely to give a favourable impression as well as giving you  a few seconds to formulate your response.
  8. You will usually be asked if you have any questions. Having a few prepared questions will be seen as showing an interest. Ask questions that seek information that you genuinely would find useful.



  1. If you promise to provide further information, do it as soon as possible after the interview.
  2. When the interview is finished, stand and thank the interviewer(s) for seeing you and for a positive interview.
  3. Outside the interview room, make a point of thanking anyone that assisted you in any way.


I hope that these tips help you to be prepared for your interview and help you to maintain a sense of calm throughout.  Most importantly, be yourself and I wish you the best of luck.