Interviews can be daunting, no matter how many you’ve had. With a little bit of preparation you’ll find them a far more pleasurable experience. Here are our top 12 tips to pass your face-to-face interview.

Research has shown that interviewers form their opinions about an interviewee within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.

It’s essential you make a good first impression and confidently demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a strong candidate worth hiring. To help you pass your interview first time we’ve pulled together what we believe are the top 12 tips to achieve interview success every time.

At the interview:

  • Offer a firm handshake – The handshake when you first meet is a great opportunity to make a good first impression. Offering a firm but not bone-breaking handshake shows you have good manners and know how to confidently handle yourself in a business environment.
  • Use your icebreakers – Have some stock icebreakers ready for the trip from the reception to the interview room. After formally introducing yourself prepare some positive icebreakers e.g. ‘this is a lovely office, how long have you worked here’, ‘thank you for taking time out of your day to meet me, have you got a busy day ahead?’
  • Utilise the STAR methodology to answer competency based questions – STAR is an exceptionally powerful way to answer competency based questions e.g. “can you give me an example of when…”

    • Situation – set the scene “where were you” (e.g. in the workplace, at university, at school)?
    • Task – “what was the task” (e.g. were you leading a team, a member of the team)?
    • Action – “what were you doing” (e.g. having to deal with an angry customer, motivating a demotivated member of a team, leading a group through a difficult assignment)?
    • Result – what was the result of your actions (e.g. did you achieve the goals that had been set, did you clam the angry customer and resolve the situation, did your team achieve the objectives that were set)?

A full example of how to use STAR is illustrated below:

Interviewer: “Tell me about an example of when you’ve had to deal with a difficult person”.

You: I was working in a shop and a customer came in demanding a refund for a faulty product. The customer didn’t have their receipt and a colleague of mine had told them they couldn’t have a refund. This had agitated the customer and they were raising their voice at my colleague.

You: I approached the customer and having already overheard that they didn’t have their receipt and proceeded to calmly explained to the customer that it was company policy that a customer needed to have a receipt if they wished to return a product purchased from the shop. I remembered that customers often opt to have their receipts emailed to them so I checked the sales system to see if the customer had opted to have their receipt emailed to them.

You I logged into the sales system and asked the customer for their email address. I could see that the receipt had been emailed to them 2 months earlier.

You I was able to refund the customer and they thanked me for resolving the situation. I was also able to send the faulty product back to the manufacturer promptly so that the issue could be investigated further and the manufacturer could promptly decide whether a full product recall was required.

  • Make sure you arrived with your interviewer questions ready – A competent interviewer should ask you if you have any question for them. They usually ask this at the end of the interview. Having a few questions ready will make you look engaged and as if you have thought about the role you are applying for. Some good questions to ask are, ‘what’s the next stage in the interview process’ and ‘when am I likely to hear’.

Before the interview

  • Arrive 5 – 10 minutes early. Being late for an interview is not a good way to start, arriving 5 – 10 minutes early will show you are punctual and able to manage your time effectively. Make sure you research the route the day before so you know exactly how long it will take you to get to the interview and you’re not stressed on arrival. Sometimes public transport lets you down so if you are going to be late make sure you call the interviewer and warn them that you’re going to be late.

  • Dress slightly smarter than the interviewer. Human psychology dictates that people often want to hire people like them. Think about how the interviewer is likely to be dressed and plan to dress slightly smarter than them. For example if your interviewer is likely to be wearing a tie make sure you’re wearing one. Ensure your shoes are polished too.

  • Research the organisation you are applying to join – you will be asked why you are applying to the interviewer’s organisation and that particular role. Make sure you have some answers ready that demonstrated you are genuinely interested in that particular organisation and that have an idea of what the company does.

  • Practise answering interview questions with a friend or in the mirror – you might find this awkward but it’s absolutely necessary. There is no substitute for practicing presenting and articulating yourself clearly and concisely. Cut out the ‘ums’ and ‘errs’, practice speaking slowly, clearly and confidently. You’d be surprised how difficult this is to do without practice. Give yourself 2 – 3 seconds before answering an interviewer’s question, this will give you time to think about your answer before speaking and also show you’ve not rehearsed answers.

  • Prepare examples of key skills – Interviewers commonly assess 8 key competencies which include teamwork, leadership etc. Make sure you have examples, which demonstrate you are competent in these areas. The full list can be found in our situational judgement member’s area.

  • Prepare answers for what you do outside work. Your interests outside of work reveal a lot about you. Prepare answers to these questions. Wholesome activities such as sports, reading, travelling are safe bets.

  • Know what’s on your CV; this might sound obvious but make sure you know what you’ve included on your CV. This will be the source document for the interviewer’s questions. Think about what an interviewer is likely to ask you. Remember an interviewer is unlikely to ask you to spend 10 minutes telling them about how great you are so think about the weakest areas of your CV and prepare answers to possible questions e.g. if you achieved AAC at A level, ‘what was the reason for the C’, this type of preparation is not fun but make sure you do it.

  • Keep revising for your psychometric tests! Many graduate employers re-test their candidates when the come for interview. This is partly to weed out candidates who got help when completing their online psychometric tests at home. It’s also a good opportunity to see how candidates cope when sitting tests in exam conditions on a stressful interview day. Keep practicing your psychometric tests to maintain and continually improve your performance.