Talking the talk: some interview top tips

So congrats – you have an interview! By getting this far you have seen off a few people. There are some basic things that would be good to do when going to an interview, like dressing to impress – literally (think apprentice!). Also, getting to your interview 10 minutes early, taking into account traffic, delays etc, and of course check the date, time and location of your interview to make sure you turn up at the right place when you should are all good things to do. But apart from the obvious, here are just a few things from top employer Becky Simkiss that will help you to stand out:

  1. Research. It sounds really obvious, but can be easily forgotten! Fully research the company before you attend your interview; don’t just have a quick look at the front page of the company website. Here are the golden rules for company research:-
  • How long has the business been established?
  • What service/products does the company provide?
  • How many offices and staff do they have?
  • What is the businesses’ unique selling point and core brand values?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Where do they stand in their sector?
  • If you are going to be liaising with client/customers, who are they likely to be? What will their expectations be when liaising with the company?
  • Looks at the News and Events section of the website (if they have one), this can give you a great idea of what is happening in the business right now!
  • Does the company have a LinkedIn (, Twitter or Facebook page? This can also be a great way to get to know more about the culture of the business.
  • Who owns and works for the company? If there is a “meet the team” section on the site, read it! It will give you a real feel for who your potential colleagues are.
  • Who is interviewing you? Try to find out a little more about them. Are they on the company website? Are they on LinkedIn? What’s their career background, how long have they been with the company?


  1. On arrival at your interview. Make sure your mobile phone is switched off throughout the interview! Good eye contact, a warm smile and firm handshake are really important when you first meet your interviewer. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.  Maintain good eye contact throughout your interview. Be enthusiastic when you talk about your understanding of the business and your experience.


  1. Communication. Give detail to your responses, be articulate, professional (no slang or swearing!), clear and concise. However don’t talk too much! It can be easy to lose your train of thought, especially if you are a little nervous, so make sure you are keeping to your point. Listening is equally as important in your interview, make sure that you fully understand the questions you are being asked. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification on a question that you are not sure about.


  1. Your CV. Make sure you know your CV. Be clear on your dates of employment and reasons for moving on from your previous employers. If you have any gaps on your CV, you may be asked about these. Think about your responses before your interview. If there is a period of unemployment, how were you spending that time searching for a new role? If you had a career break, what prompted you to do that? If you went travelling, where did you go? It is perfectly acceptable to have a copy of your CV with you in your interview for an occasional prompt, but it is best not to refer to it consistently throughout your interview.


  1. The job you are interviewing for. Fully read the job description of the role you are applying for before your interview. Be able to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the role and requirements. Be confident that you fully understand the day to day duties you will be undertaking, as well as any personal qualities and IT skills that the company may be looking for. Be able to give clear examples of where in your work history you have demonstrated the skills, personality or attitude that the job specification highlights, for example, if the role requires excellent customer service, be able to give examples of where you have really gone the extra mile for your clients.


  1. Know what makes you unique! Before your interview, think about your biggest achievements to date, which parts of your career are you most proud of? Where have you really excelled? What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date and how did you overcome that? What personality can you bring to the role? What difference will you make to the team?  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Where are you looking to be in 2 years’ time?


  1. Any Finally! It is a great idea to prepare one or two questions that you would like to ask your interviewer, should you have the opportunity, at the end of the interview.

So there are some brief top tips for interview. Preparation is the key – and not the old rusty kind. For any more help on interview techniques, or to even set up a mock interview head over to Careers Network for some helpful advice.

About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s