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How to Prepare for an Interview – Top Tips

Interviews can be daunting; there’s no getting around that. They’re usually the final step before securing employment, and, as such, there’s a lot on the line. But in reality, they don’t need to be that scary.  

If you prepare correctly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ace your interview. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the best ways to prepare for these job-winning opportunities, as well as looking into what you shouldn’t do.

1. Go Over Some Practice Questions

You’ll never know precisely what you’ll be asked in an interview until you’re in the room. However, most interviews will have a few frequent questions in common, regardless of the roles.  

Some of the most common interview questions include the following:

What’s Your Background?

Interviewers will want to know about your past, professional experiences, and journey to where you are today. Alongside getting to know more about your work history, this also helps the hiring manager gauge your personality and identify whether you’d be a good fit with the rest of the team.

What About this Job Excites/Interests You?

Hiring managers will almost certainly want to know why it is you want the job in the first place. What is it about the role that really piqued your interest? Is it the opportunity to work collaboratively? The responsibility of the role? The chance to engage with exciting projects?  

Even if you were drawn to the role mainly financially, it’s always good to consider what else about the role excites you besides simply the money.

Why Do You Want to Work for this Company?

A similar question they might ask is why you want to work for the company. What is it about their particular company that you’ve seen that you like the look of?  

Does their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy match your values, for example? Or is their progressive, high-tech working environment something you’ve always wanted to be part of?  

Whatever it is, showing that you’ve researched the company will earn points with the interviewer.

Why Did You Leave Your Previous Role?

Potential employers might want to know why you left your earlier employment. It’s an understandable question and it’s worth putting some thought into your answer. Were you ready for a new challenge? Had you outgrown your previous role?  

Honesty is the best policy, so if you were made redundant during a period of financial restructuring, then there’s no harm in saying so. If you left on bad terms with your former employer, put a positive spin on it (if you’re able) by saying what you learned from the experience.

How Do You Keep Yourself Organised?

Organisation is one of the most important skills within the workplace; whatever your job is, it likely involves at least a degree of organisation.  

This question might also be interchanged with how you keep yourself calm under stressful situations (or describe a time you managed a particularly stressful situation).  

Interviews themselves can be pretty stressful, so staying calm and measured throughout your interview is a good sign in and of itself from the hiring manager’s perspective.

What Do You Expect in Terms of Salary?

You can have the best interview in the world, but it counts for very little if your and the employer’s salary expectations don’t even remotely align. If they’ve budgeted for a maximum of £34,000 a role and you’re expecting £46,000, for instance, then the maths just doesn’t add up.  

Based on your skills and experience, outline a salary range you’d expect to receive from the role in question. Let them know your flexibility on this – their budget might not quite stretch to your salary range; however, it might be close, so they’ll want to understand how rigid you are on those salary parameters.

2. Prepare a Mock Interview

Even better than simply preparing for some questions is to engage in a fully-fledged mock interview. Find yourself a willing friend, family member or even colleague, and ask that they play the role of interviewer.  

Then, role-play an interview scenario with the ‘interviewer’ asking you a range of questions. You may have prior knowledge of the questions, or if you want to practise your ability to think on your feet, you may go into your mock interview with no prior knowledge whatsoever.  

This faux encounter won’t replicate the real thing, but it’ll at least give you a facsimile of what to expect. Practice makes perfect when it comes to interview technique, so a couple of mock run-throughs can do the world of good.

3. Do Your Research

The point of an interview is to impress the hiring manager sufficiently that they want to hire you and not anybody else. With that in mind, they’re far more likely to take an interest in a candidate who has researched the company and the role than somebody who rocks up and doesn’t know a thing about the organisation!

4. Re-familiarise Yourself with Your CV

If you’ve been job-hunting for a while, then you’ve probably gotten used to just firing off your CV for roles; and whilst you might have been writing bespoke cover letters for each separate role, your CV itself might not be changed very frequently (if at all) once you’ve started the search for a new job.  

Then bingo, a company wants to interview you – perfect! Except you’ve not looked at your CV for a couple of months and suddenly, they start quizzing you on it. You’re left scratching around your memory bank, and they’re left impatiently waiting for answers. Not ideal.  

Don’t fall into that trap! Before the interview, take a few minutes to review your CV again so that it’s fresh in your mind and that you’ll feel prepared should they ask you any questions about it.

5. Prepare Some Questions of Your Own

An interview is as much for you to determine whether the company is a good fit for you as it is for them to assess you. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to prepare for your interview by thinking about whether there are any questions you’d like to ask the employer.  

Some good questions to consider asking include:  

  • Are there any opportunities for progression within the role?  
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?  
  • What are the role’s main challenges?  
  • What are the next steps should you be successful at the interview stage?  
  • How will your performance within the role be measured?  

Avoid asking directly about the salary, as this can indicate to the hiring manager that you’re interested solely in the money rather than the role itself.

Things to Avoid During an Interview

For as much as there are things you should do during an interview, equally, there are those things you shouldn’t do, too. At the top of this list? Arriving at your interview late.

Turning Up Late

Just about the biggest no-no in the book is rocking up to your interview late. First impressions count in an interview, and you can’t make much of a worse impression than not being there when you’re supposed to. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the hiring manager that’s hard to shift from there on in.  

If you can’t show up on time for an interview, how can an employer trust you to turn up on time once the job starts? If there’s an unavoidable reason for your delay, e.g., an accident on the roads, then make sure you contact the company to inform them as soon as possible.


Again, this might seem obvious, but lying during your interview typically only ends one way, with the interviewer either immediately seeing through your dishonesty or finding out about it later, neither of which is good.  

If there are areas that you’re not skilled in, then pretending you do is going to land you in a situation for which you’re not prepared. At that point, you’ve got the awkward, and potentially job-ending conversation to have in which you inform your boss you can’t actually do that thing you said you could. 

Being Rude, Aggressive or Defensive

Whether you’re talking to the hiring manager, the receptionist or anyone else around the office, being rude reflects poorly on you and minimises your chance of securing employment.  

You might have the best skillset in the world and all the relevant experience for the job in question, but if you seem difficult to work with, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get that phone call offering you the job.

Being Unprepared

Even if you’ve been told about your interview last minute – your interview is the next day, for instance – it’s still important to prepare for it and, at the very least, learn a little bit about the company with whom you’re interviewing. It’s also sensible to bring a copy of your CV and take paper and a pen to make any notes you wish.

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