Interview Techniques

Unfortunately having an excellent career track record and skilfully drafted CV to match, isn’t enough to secure any position you apply for, but both these elements when done correctly should get you an invite to interview.

However, it is the interview itself that will secure the position. Your skills maybe an ideal fit for the role but more importantly do you fit with the company ideal?

Statistics and research show that most people make a decision on the suitability of someone within the first few seconds of meeting them and so your preparation and presentation is key to success.

At no other time is the phrase ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ more apt. The techniques you utilise are vital in securing the job offer and below is a guide to marketing yourself in the most effective manner.

Throughout an interview it is your goal to appear professional, enthusiastic and ultimately the first choice for the job. Regardless of your gut feeling prior to and during an interview, your aim should always be to be successful. If when leaving an interview you feel the job isn’t one you’d wish to take, you should still leave in the knowledge they want you and you are the best person for the job.

The following information should assist with the interview process and appease the nerves of the occasion. You will find that the better prepared you are the more the confident and assertive person within you comes out.

The areas you need to focus on are as follows:


You only get one chance to create a first impression. Your dress and appearance should be smart and your body language confident with a polite and enthusiastic nature. Many interviewers are as nervous as the interviewee, so you being comfortable with the situation will assist with the general tone of the interview. Remember that although a recruiter will be looking to assess your experience, they will also be looking to qualify
your cultural suitability.

Your CV

Reading through your CV prior to an interview should allow you to identify areas that are likely to be questioned. If you state you have specific experience of a jobs technicalities, be prepared to expand on them, citing examples to back up the statements made.

If you were interviewing you, what would you ask? Are there gaps in your employment? What are your achievements? Why are you moving?

No one likes surprises at interview and so where applicable you want to know what the interview holds for you. Who you’ll meet? Their positions and possibly backgrounds? Do they intend to test you? What are the key areas that they are likely to assess? Do they have any weaknesses within their department at present?


All recruiters want to know why you are considering an opportunity with them and what your decision to apply to work with them was based on. Do you know the company’s background, it’s key competitors? Can you demonstrate your knowledge by mentioning recent business projects they have completed? What is their structure and turnover? Number of employees? What do you know about the market in which they operate? Will you fit in with the culture? Truly and honestly, why do you want to work for them?

Many company websites contain a great deal of pertinent information and entering a companies details into internet search engines often offers up a plethora of facts. Employers recruit people who want to work for them and there is no better way to demonstrate your desire than in your research and preparation.

The Job

What are the key details of the role? What can you bring to the opportunity and what can it offer you? Respect a company’s individuality, you won’t be expected to know how a company operates every aspect of its accountancy department. So asking direct questions in relation to how a company works should present common ground for discussion. Are there areas for development? Had you previously worked in a similar manner or even adapted a previous employer’s processes in order to streamline tasks, that that could
also be adopted here?


Be prompt, but don’t be too early. 15 minutes will allow you to calm your nerves on arrival. Remember that your interview starts the moment you step foot on site, the way you greet reception etc. You don’t know who’s input is taken into account and everyone should be treated with the same respect as your prospective employer.

Greet your interviewer standing, with a smile and a handshake. Your body language is a reflection on you, if you slouch you will be deemed disinterested etc.

Most interviews begin with an informal chat and this is an excellent opportunity to not only demonstrate your prepared knowledge, but also enquire on a personal level about your interviewer’s background. Ask open questions relating to their history, role and career to date. How long have you been with the company? Etc. You should know you CV and employment dates and be clear on your duties and responsibilities with each. When questioned, your answers should be positive and evidenced. Provide examples to back up your statements. If asked, ‘how do you cope in stressful situation?’ Give an example of when you where in a stressful situation and how you managed it in a positive way.

Always remember that when discussing your previous or present employer this should be done with respect. At a minimum they have given you the opportunity to progress your career to the point at where it is at present. You should be enthusiastic about the role and any reservations that arise should be covered at a later stage when you are given the opportunity to question in more detail. These (reservations) questions should be delivered in a positive manner and allow your interview to discuss the points in full. Remember that although this is an opportunity to sell yourself, it is also an opportunity to discuss the company in more detail and explore the technicalities of the position.

Any questions you have prepared must be open and encourage the employer to open up and provide further information. Remember, although you are attending and interview it is as equally important that you qualify your prospective employer.

Typical Questions

Tell me about yourself.

What do you like about your present job?
Why do you want to join us?
What do you know about the company?
What attracted you to the role?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
What is the hardest situation you have faced and how did you tackle it?
Why do you want to leave your current role?
Why do you think you are suitable for this position?
How do you cope with pressure?
What motivates you?

Describe yourself with 3 words?

What do you do outside work?
What is your greatest achievement?
What are your long-term goals?
What would you bring to the company?
How do you work alone and within a team?

Your Questions

Why did you join the company and what keeps you here?
How do you see me in the job?
How will I know I am performing well?
Where do you expect the role to develop?
What are the opportunities to progress?
What are the team like?
Do you have any reservations regarding my experience or fit within the team?
What do you see as the key selling points / attractions for joining your company?

In Closing

You may have created a good impression and performed well throughout the interview but in closing it is essential you remain focussed.

Close with a smile and a handshake and your parting remark should reflect your desire to move things forward.

“I look forward to speaking with you again.”
“Do you have any reservations regarding my experience?”
“Have I done enough to convince you I’m the right person for the job, have I been successful in securing a second interview?”

Attending interview isn’t easy and for many an uncomfortable experience. But practice makes perfect and if you follow the guidelines set out above, you may find you are far more successful and even enjoy the process!