General Interview Tips

Below are tips we regularly give to clients during sessions.

You may find some of them relevant to you.

Check out here to tune into some questions:

Sell yourself


Be biographical – make sure they know where your examples/stories are coming from (e.g. the role you held at that time, your relevant responsibilities, and so on).

Claim your successes. Show you aim high and achieve. Show the positive results that accrued. Show the scale of the ‘story’. Quantify results you achieved with figures (percentages, money, whatever makes the story memorable). That onus is on you.

I, I, I. Not we, we, we. Sometimes, of course, it is appropriate to use ‘we’ (e.g. in an answer about teamwork, but make sure to keep yourself at the heart of your stories – that’s why you selected those stories).

They ask if you have any questions for them. What to ask? Ask a question that doesn’t seek to acquire information from THEM, but rather seeks to transmit further information about YOU. Tell them one more thing that helps to convince them.

More often than not, relevance is more important than chronology. Think relevance.

Make your stories concrete – not abstract.

Don’t take good experience or ability for granted – make sure to tell them.

Show passion: let them see you really want the job.

Inject some drama into your stories – i.e. the possibility that if you hadn’t intervened, things would have gone wrong. “If I hadn’t done this…” can be a good phrase to use as it will help you to paint the reality of your intervention/contribution in starker terms.

Don’t hover above the winning detail in your answers. Get in there and show them what you have. Most people we work with tend to hold back a little – we call it ‘the hover’ – and they benefit from diving into some detail. Of course, if you are an inveterate talker, you may need to tailor this advice accordingly.


Take the opposition seriously


Presume the opposition will be excellent. Expect that they will put you to the pin of your collar. But you must still retain the belief that you are better. Expecting the opposition to be excellent will bring out the best in you.




Your Interview Workbook should be the A-Z of the interview. Prepare that well, and you give yourself a much better chance of doing a good interview.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

Prepare additional examples per competency.


Ensuring nerves don’t take over


Good preparation dissolves nerves. Go in there and talk about what you know.

Nervous energy must go somewhere. If you’re naturally a mover of your hands while you talk, don’t suppress that.

Eye contact a problem? Look them on the chin. They will never realise you weren’t looking them in the eye. Practice it in your normal life. It works.

The entire interview exists as an opportunity for you to promote your candidacy. See it as an opportunity, not a test.

You don’t know what you are going to face on the day – be ready to adapt – don’t have fixed expectations in your mind.

Take time to listen to the question closely.

Bring your personality into the room: don’t leave it outside the door.


Avoid second-guessing yourself


Don’t seek approval from the other side of the interview table – you should have such belief in your answers that you could do the interview while blindfolded, and not worry at all about getting their approval.

Go for it: you’ve decided what you’re going to say, best to say it with confidence and authority, rather than in a hesitating fashion. If you’re not sure about something, don’t say it.


Think through the employer’s needs in full


It’s a sales transaction. The employer is the buyer. You must know what they want to buy. What are their needs? What will the successful candidate have? What problems will the candidate solve? Then, go and be that candidate, that solution.

Claim the right to sell yourself to people you know well. Article on this topic:

Pepper your entire interview with evidence that you know lots about the organisation. Read their website in detail. Google them. Talk to people working there now, or who worked there previously. Talk to people who work in similar organisations. It is crucial to know the organisation very well.

Apply your answers to ‘the bottom line’ – i.e. the ultimate purpose of the organisation.

Remember what you are trying to prove and stick with it throughout the answer. 

Show them that you can translate your experience / training to date to the new role.


Don’t set impossibly high standards for yourself


An interview is not an elocution test. You’re not being asked to read The News. An ‘um’ here and an ‘ah’ there – not a problem.

Avoid learning off. Trust the flow. Trust the words will come if the preparation is done.

Stay off the stage: Don’t try to find language or a tone of voice you wouldn’t usually use. That will tie you up in knots. Trust your natural communication style. Aim for a knowledgeable chat.

When you hit the black ice, keep going. They don’t see the struggles in your head – so don’t tell them by stopping – fake it to make it.

You’re not walking a tightrope – no harm if you stumble here and there.

Be careful about trying to remember exhaustive lists – that’s some pressure without notes. Unless you absolutely have to give a definitive list, opt instead to give a sense or a flavour of a list.

It’s not a buzzer round either – take your time. 

Finish when you’re finished. Let them fill the silence. Don’t keep talking beyond the point where you feel comfortable.

Communicate your excellent attitude. Be animated as you answer. Make them feel energised/excited about the prospect of appointing you.

Follow the critical path of your stories – tell just enough so they know enough, and not so much they struggle to follow.




If they thank you, thank them back. Always return the courtesy.

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