How To Ace Your Job Interview

Job Applications

The content provides a comprehensive guide to preparing for various types of job interviews and offers advice on how to excel during the interview process.


Different Types of Interview
Preparation Is The Key To Success
Common Interview Questions
3 Subtle Tips To Give You An Edge
Don’t Forget the Follow Up!
Further Reading

You’ve found a job you really want. You’ve written your application and sent it in. Now you have an interview, and part of you is feeling really excited. But if you’re not used to job interviews, you might also feel a bit nervous.

This is perfectly natural – try not to worry. If you follow the preparation steps in this guide, you’ll give yourself the best chance of turning up on the day feeling relaxed, confident and ready to secure the job you want. 

Not all job interviews are the same. They vary from company to company, and from role to role. How you prepare for success in your interview depends on the type of interview you’re going to have:

Phone Interviews

If you’re preparing for a phone interview, don’t fall into the trap of seeing it as less important than a face-to-face interview. Treat your preparation same way that you might for an interview that is in person:

  • research the company
  • research the person that is going to be interviewing you on LinkedIn
  • review the job description and think about the questions you might be asked

You’ll want to make sure you’re in a quiet location for the phone call and that you won’t be distracted, so that you can give the interview your full attention.

Video Interviews

To make a great first impression on a video call, make sure your background is free from clutter or anything that might distract from your answers. If this isn’t possible, try and set up a ‘background blur’ so that your background isn’t distracting for the interviewer.

It’s also important to dress the part. You might be on a video call from the comfort of your own home, but that doesn’t mean you should wear your comfy joggers and t-shirt!

Face to Face Interviews

If you’re preparing for a face-to-face interview, it’s likely you’ll be meeting with one or two hiring managers. Try to do a bit of research on your interviewers and their role in the business to help you tailor your answers. If you’re checking their details on LinkedIn, they will be able to see that you’ve viewed their profile which can work in your favour – it shows you’re doing your research.

Panel Interviews

If you’re having a panel interview, you’re going be interviewed by more than one person. This may seem quite daunting at first, but a panel interview is often less formal and more conversational than being one-on-one. So don’t worry.

The challenge in a panel interview is to build rapport with each of the interviewers. A top tip is to make sure you’re addressing each member of the panel equally when you’re answering your questions.

Assessment Centres

Many graduate or entry level roles might invite you to an assessment centre. Common tasks in an assessment centre interview include:

  • being assigned topics to discuss as a group
  • work as a team on a presentation
  • completing a group exercise
A presentation to a group of people

The hiring team will be looking at the value of your contribution as well as how well you work as a team. So, make sure you speak up, but also work collaboratively with others.

It sounds a bit cliché, but preparation is the key to success when it comes to job interviews. Follow these six steps and you’ll give yourself the best chance of approaching your interview feeling calm and confident.

Research the business

Don’t rely on the job description to give you the information you need on the company, you’ll need to do some research on your own. Start by making sure you fully review:

  • the company’s website
  • their LinkedIn page
  • their social media profiles
  • any mentions of them in the news

This will help you to get an understanding of their history, their values and any recent company events.

TOP TIP: A good tip is to try and remember a few key facts that you can mention at your interview. Something that really shows you’ve done your research well. Examples might include a charity donation the company might have made, or an award they might have won.

Think about the sections you might be asked

Take a look at the job description and make note of the skills required and your day-to-day responsibilities. This will give you a good indication of some of the role-based questions you might be asked.

Try to prepare answers that you can illustrate with relevant experience from your time at school, college or work experience, using the STAR method:

  • Situation – the context and circumstances
  • Task – the work that was assigned to you
  • Action – how you approached the work
  • Result – what was the outcome?

Interviewers are also likely to ask more generic questions about how you prefer to work, why you want the job, and your personal strengths and weaknesses. We’ll look at the best ways to answer some of these questions in the next section!

Plan your route to the interview

You don’t want to arrive too early for your interview. An ideal time to arrive is 5-10 minutes before your interview is due to start. But don’t leave anything to chance. If you’re rushing to get to your interview on time, you’ll arrive flustered and be more nervous than you need to be.  

It’s a good idea to plan your route using a tool like Google Maps and look for cafes or coffee shops close to your local area. That way, you can arrive in the area close to your interview half an hour early, grab a coffee and try to relax knowing you’re in plenty of time.

Plan what you’re going to wear

The best choice of outfit for a job interview depends on the role and the type of company you’re interviewing with.

If the business is professional, you might want to wear a suit with a tie, or a smart dress.

On the other hand, if the business is more casual, you might wear something more relaxed like smart trousers or jeans with a blouse or shirt.

Unsure? Always go a little bit smarter – you’re trying to impress. We’d always recommend keeping accessories to a minimum and making sure your hair is neatly presented.

Decide what you’re going to ask

Often a job interview will end with the hiring manager asking if you have any questions and you don’t want to meet this with an awkward silence. Try to put together at least three good questions that will impress your interviewer.

Consider putting together a list that includes:

  • Questions about the company (that aren’t easily found on the website)
  • the progression opportunities within the business
  • the opportunities for personal development

There are a lot of questions you might be asked in a job interview, and you’re never going to know what they are. That’s why it’s important to prepare thoroughly. But there are some favourite questions that interviewers often ask. We’ve given some helpful hints on how to answer them.

Q. Do you prefer working independently or part of a team?

If you’re asked this question, you’ll want to make it clear you’re comfortable in both situations. You might suggest that you love to work in groups to share ideas and collaborate with planning, but you’re most productive when you work independently without interruption

Q. How do you keep yourself organised when managing multiple different projects?

The key to this question is to demonstrate you have a good sense of prioritisation and project management. You might suggest that you’ll prioritise the tasks that have the biggest business impact, and use a project management tool or calendar to schedule and manage them.

Q. Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer is ideally looking for an answer that shows you’ve done your research and know about the requirements of the role and the company you’re applying for. It’s a good idea to mention anything you’ve come across in your research around culture, values and the personal development opportunities that are offered.

Q. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A trick here is to mention your weaknesses first, and finish your answer with your strengths so it sticks in the interviewers mind. It’s also important to make sure you relate your answers to the role you’re applying for.

When talking about your weaknesses, try to show that you’re taking action to address them. For example, you might say that you get nervous with public speaking, but you’re looking to improve your skills and confidence by taking an online course.

When talking about your strengths, try to demonstrate the value that you’ve been able to deliver using your skills (remember the STAR method!)

If you’re following the steps in our guide so far, you’ll be in a good place to feel fully prepared and confident for your interview. But we’re not going to stop there.

The following 3 tips are subtle but can really help enhance your chances of job interview success.

1. Pretend you’re being interviewed by everyone

One of the best tips we can give you is to treat everyone in the company as your interviewer. When you turn up at reception, be friendly, courteous and polite to the reception staff and everyone you meet. You never know if they might be asked for their impression of you!

2. First Impressions Count

When you meet your interviewers, you’ve got no more than a few seconds to make a great first impression. Impress them with:

  • a strong handshake
  • a confident smile
  • natural eye contact

3. Watch for non verbal cues

Did you know that your body language and non-verbal communication are actually more important than the words you speak? You could give an amazing answer to an interview question, but if you answer it while slouching it’s not going to be received as well as it could be. Practice positive language by:

  • sitting up straight
  • placing your shoulders back
  • smiling,
  • making natural eye contact
  • not fidgeting!

You’ve had your job interview. You liked the company. It seemed that they liked you.

Make your application stand out by sending a follow up ‘thank-you’ email.

  • Keep it short, sweet and to the point
  • Say thanks to the interviewers for taking the time to meet with you
  • Mention some of the things you found most interesting from your conversations
  • End your email by saying you look forward to hearing back from them

Sending a timely follow up email shows that you’re keen and could make all the difference in securing the role if it’s a close call between you and another candidate.

TOP TIP: If you’ve had your interview and are unsuccessful in your application, think about sending a request for feedback.

Not all companies provide detailed interview feedback, but there’s no harm in sending an email to ask if they are able to give you any constructive advice on your performance in the process. By sending a request for feedback, not only do you have the opportunity to learn about things you might work on for future interviews, it will also help leave a good impression with the hiring managers for any future roles.