Top Interview Tips

By Turlach McAlister, director with Clarion Resourcing

It’s perhaps the most daunting and challenging part of the recruitment process – the one opportunity to impress your potential employer and drum the message home that you are the right candidate for the job – the dreaded interview.

Conducting successful interviews is an art in itself and according to the old adage, practice makes perfect.  You can’t expect to successfully position yourself for a particular role without investing much time, thought and imagination in the interview process.  Without stating the obvious, preparation is the single most important element in helping you to put your best foot forward and beating off the competition.

Here are some of our top tips for conducting a successful interview and don’t forget that our consultants are always available for advice as required.


  1. Understand the role you are applying for
    Make sure you understand what the role is and the associated requirements.  Surprisingly, a lot of candidates only have a cursory understanding of what the role is, about and the skills and experience that the interviewer is looking for.  Take the time to understand the role (not just the title) and the specifics of what is to be delivered or completed.  If the information is not available from the job specification – make sure the recruiter informs you.  At Clarion Resourcing, we provide briefing packs to candidates providing detailed information on every aspect of the role and the recruitment process.   This helps to remove any uncertainty for the candidate.
  2. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
    It may sound obvious but you have to invest time in preparing for the interview.  Research the company in question thoroughly and have a full and detailed brief on the role that they are recruiting for.  Clarion has developed a cheat sheet for candidates, which includes links to some reference sites that can be used to find out more about potential employers.  Contact Clarion to get a copy.Rehearse the typical questions that you know you will be asked: questions on your career history, your background, why you want to work for that particular organisation and why you should get the job, as opposed to the next candidate sitting outside the door.  Make sure that you prepare for competency-type questions.  These questions relate to past behaviour or future hypothetical situations.  Don’t just reel off the same predictable answers that everyone else will.  Give some serious consideration to the content. You make the connection between you, your goals and objectives and the organisation. Don’t hope that the interviewer makes those connections for you.
  3. Tap into professional organisations
    Take the time to review what material is available from professional organisations and standards organisations.  For roles like Project Manager, review the content available from the PMI on the role of the project manager and the day-to-day job.  This can help you focus your responses and links the responses to best practices/standards.  Clarion has a number of role profiles that provide high-level guidance on what characteristics individuals going for the roles should display and the type of experience they should have.
  4. Draw on the experience and knowledge of your recruitment consultant.
    Remember that your recruitment consultant represents a huge source of experience and knowledge that you can tap into, free of charge.  They already have a relationship with the employer and may be able to offer valuable ‘insider’ information on the culture of the organisation, the personality of the interviewer and the type of person they are looking to fill the role.  In addition, they can offer some valuable advice on interviews in general – use their guidance to refine your approach and emphasise as part of the interview the key things the employer is looking for in a successful candidate.
  5. Come armed with relevant and appropriate questions.
    Make sure that you have some pre-prepared questions on the role itself.  Depending on what phase of the hiring process you are in, some questions are more relevant and appropriate than others.  For example at a first stage interview, questions related to salary and benefits should be left out (or directed to your recruitment consultant). Avoid any ‘what do I get’ type questions at the early stage.Explore the culture and ethos of the organisation and really show the interviewer that you are thorough in your preparation, reflecting the way in which you approach your work day-to-day.   Ask about will be expected of you in the first month, quarter, year in the role and how this will be measured.  Make it clear through your questions that you will be a positive asset to the organisation, without coming across as arrogant or conceited.
  6. Practice interview techniques
    It’s an area that is very often neglected by job seekers but practicing interview techniques through role-play is a very effective way of building confidence and adding to your sense of preparation.In the past people prepared for interviews using a mirror.  Make use of the video camera available on most mobile phones and assess your performance.  This provide s a great tool for you to watch yourself responding to certain questions and allows you to iron out some of kinks in your response, both verbal and non-verbal.Remember also that telephone interviews are used more and more in the first phase of the recruitment process.  Don’t be fooled – you still need to prepare thoroughly.   Think about using a headset so you can take notes and relax.  Pay particular attention to your tone of voice and keep your answers brief and to the point.  Telephone interviews are very often shorter that face-to-face ones.Also, don’t forget to get feedback from your recruitment consultant.  Very often, employers will give honest feedback to them on your performance in the interview.  Tap into this and make sure that you adjust your pitch the next time around.
  7. Soft skills and positive mental attitude are equally important.
    Quite apart from your physical appearance, which it goes without saying, should be impeccable; make sure that your attitude is a positive and dynamic one.  Be enthusiastic and keen when talking about the role.  Show passion for your chosen career and make it clear that you are a team player and enjoy working with other people.

The next blog in the series will cover career moves and specifically how to move into the project management space.

On March 8th, 2013, posted in: Blog by
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