The Interview Procedure - A Guide to Success

The interview process is a unique and unusual environment and whilst everyone understands that it can be a nervous and tense environment, preparation and practice can provide you with the confidence to overcome such problems.

With the advent of IT communication tools such as Skype and WebEx, more and more employers are now conducting the first interviews remotely using the above tools. We have found that almost 90% of our clients will ask to speak to candidates over the telephone or via the web, at the first instance. After-which, formal face to face interviews are requested subject to a successful phone interview.

Phone interviews / Skype Calls

The initial phone and /or skype calls are typically a relatively brief affair and can last from 30mins up to an hour.

Typical areas covered include:

Why are you keen on the specific vacancy?

What do you know of the company in question?

Why are you suited to the role itself and what can you bring?

The general consensus is that if you can provide clear and precise answers and prepare / research the company and the role, then you should be in a good position to engage in good conversation.

Telephone interviews can be difficult at times because there is no body language to gauge reaction and the flow of conversation can be disrupted if you are hesitant and ill prepared.

Phone interview Tips:

·         Always conduct calls indoors, within a quiet room with clear mobile reception.

·         Make sure you have many relevant questions to ask? Remember you are there to investigate them and to find out more about what they have to offer too.

·         Always ask at the end of the call what the next stage will be and what are the timescales.


Face to face interviews

If having been successful at phone interview stage, then you will almost certainly be asked to meet for a formal interview, where a presentation is required.

First and foremost, your appearance is key. Always wear smart clothes, shoes and arrive early. You should also bring a pen and notepad to make notes and where possible, provide relevant data on your suitability such as a snapshot of your achievements.

For interview preparation, you need to have a good knowledge of the company and the job description. You must also understand why you would be the best person for the role and so when answering questions you can provide relevant skills to what they are looking for. You will often be asked about the company, their competitors and what you think the role requires. All companies look for people who will be a benefit their own organisation.

Apart from experience and knowledge, a person’s enthusiasm is perhaps the most important aspect that will increase your performance in the interview. Good preparation will give you the edge in terms of interview performance.

Always investigate the company website, make notes on the website itself, view it as a potential customer and look into company philosophies and ethos.

If you are applying for a sales role, make sure you have good understanding of their product range and who their customers are? Also, look into where they plan to expand into either as a customer range or new product development.

Identify a successful business plan, evaluate what you would do over the first 3 months into the role and discuss how you would manage your territory.

Prepare yourself for questions on your previous work experience, be ready to discuss what you did, what skills you learnt and improved while doing it and what you added to the role.

Always ask questions because as a candidate you are never expected to know everything. Especially, financial goals, growth expectation, top 10 product sales and the levels of support you will be provided with such as from marketing, product specialists, if any of these.

Presentation Tips:

If a presentation is required, ensure you stick to the remit, whether it is a role play scenario, technical discussion or just a brief talk about yourself. Keep to the required timescales and prepare a power-point that is crisp, clean and consistent.  Use bullet points to provide concise detail and try not to write large chunks of text.

·         Always look at your audience and do not bury your head in notes

·         Engage the audience where possible, ask them for their opinion at relevant stages

·         Use suitable graphics / charts to highlight your points

·         Structure your presentation with a good flow from introduction, content through to final questions

A good general presentation should have slides that include:

·         A little about you

·         Why you are applying to work for that company and the role

·         What skills you have that are suitable for them

·         A summary of your previous achievements

·         A business plan


End the interview on the best positive note, ask interviewers about any reservations so that you get the chance to defend your answers. Feel free to ask when you might hear about the result of the interview, whether there is another stage and who you may or may not be in competition with. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the role and thank all for their time.