The time has come, all of your hard work and preparation has led you here.

Have a read of King Recruit’s guide on how to ace the interview and overcome those interview hurdles. 

The Interview starts as soon as you shut your front door!

As the saying goes first impressions count, and it’s certainly true of a job interview. So much rides on those first few minutes to determine how well the rest of the interview goes, a strong start, therefore, is imperative to set the tone.

When you walk out of the house switch to interview mode, be courteous, confident and professional from the moment you set off. You never know who you might bump into on your way to the interview, your interviewer may be in the same queue as you in the coffee shop, waiting to buy a ticket at the station, or standing next to you on the tube. 

Waiting to go into your interview isn’t time for interview prep, this should be done well before, you want to arrive at your destination ready to go. Give yourself enough time before to have a comfort break, run over your notes and ensure you are hydrated and comfortable. When you arrive turn off your phone, make conversation with the receptionist and take in your surroundings, is there something there that can be a great conversation starter?

Treat everyone you meet as your interviewer.

Everyone you come across is part of the interview process. All the touchpoints you meet along the way could be the key to your success. From the receptionist to an assistant or passing future colleagues on the way to your interview room. If it comes down to you and another candidate co-worker will often share their impressions of visitors afterwards, make sure you make the right one.

Actions speak louder than words.

Sometimes it’s not about what you say it’s what you do. In those first few minutes, Non-verbal cues matter even more than verbal ones. Eye contact, a firm handshake, smiling confidently and looking interested speak louder than words. Wait for the interviewer to invite you to take a seat, remember your manners. In everything, you do project enthusiasm and energy. Use positive reinforcements such as nodding in encouragement or to show that you are paying attention and understand. 

Be ready for the small talk.

Small talk is a way for people to build a rapport and connect, it’s the starting point to build a relationship and to see if that all-important chemistry that characterises all effective business relationships is there.

As covered in our interview preparation chapter be ready for the small talk questions. When in the meeting room there may be a prompt for a question, a photograph of family or pet, maybe some sporting memorabilia. Make sure you have an anecdote of your own to share too. 

Make sure you project your message

It’s highly unlikely that your interviewer is only seeing you for the position. To ensure that you are memorable it’s advisable that you have 3 key messages to get across that will stick with your interviewer. Try to work them in naturally whenever you can even in the first few minutes. These could be goal aspirations “I want to progress and feel ready to manage a Team” or they could be key selling points about yourself such as “I combine compliance experience with technical expertise”.


Don’t neglect planning answers to some of the most common questions such as “Why are you suited for this position?” and “Tell me why you want this job?”


The most common interview questions, how to give a different answer.

“How was your journey?” Small talk such as this will put you at ease, answer naturally, avoid one-word answers such as “good” or “fine”, they are looking to test your interpersonal skills with this sort of question. 

“Tell me about yourself”, this isn’t the story of your life, nor is it a comprehensive guide of your previous employment, remember they have your CV. This question is prompting you to talk about your career history to glean what you would you be like to with and what difference you can make to the business. This is an opportunity to talk about your strengths, skills and experience. Highlight the most important points of your previous roles that relate to the job you are interviewing for. Remember, as we mentioned earlier in the guide get your personal brand across. 

“Why do you want to work for us” interviewers are looking for something a bit different other than “you are a bigger growing company” or “you want to work for a highly profitable business”. Within your research you might have uncovered something, you could mention a new staff project or a new product they have launched or discuss the company’s values and how they link to your own. 

“What are your strengths and weaknesses” At some point during the interview process, you may be asked to describe your personal strengths and weaknesses. It’s always an awkward question to answer as you don’t want to appear boastful or undermine your skills. However, by establishing the appropriate context, you can give hiring managers an honest, thoughtful answer that highlights both your self-awareness and professionalism.

First, state your weakness or strength. Second, add additional context and a specific example or story of how this trait has emerged in your professional life. That context will give potential employers insight into your level of self-awareness and commitment to professional growth. 

A good example of weakness would be “In a previous position I took on too much without asking for assistance, it caused pressure on myself and the Team when I couldn’t meet deadlines or complete urgent pieces of work. My Manager spotted the problem and we developed a plan to organise my day and to prioritise. I now always work in this way.”

An example of a strength would be “I’ve always been a natural leader. With over ten years of experience in finance and sales, I’ve exceeded my KPIs every quarter and have been promoted twice in the last five years. I look back at those successes and know that I wouldn’t have reached them if I hadn’t built and led teams composed of highly skilled and diverse individuals. I’m proud of my ability to get cross-functional groups working efficiently together. I’ve regularly honed my management skills through 360 reviews and candid discussion sessions with my team, and I know continuing to build my leadership skills is something I want from my next role.”

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years” this has to be realistic. You need to demonstrate that you aren’t rushing ahead (think to start as an office junior and want to be CEO in 5 years). You want to come across as ambitious but not impatient, ideally, your 5-year plan will include the ambitions of the company.

“What are your hobbies or interests” This is a good opportunity to show your personality and hopefully build a rapport, especially if there is common ground. Rather than the standard running or going to the cinema is there anything that could spark curiosity?

Competency Questions.

Competency questions are a useful way for employers to distinguish if you’re a good fit for their organisation and to differentiate between different candidates with similar levels of skills and experience. 

Competency questions focus on interpersonal skills, personal qualities, team behaviour, leadership, problem-solving and decision making. 

Some examples are:

“Tell us about a time when you had to deal with challenging feedback on your work”

 “Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult strategic decision and win over others in the process”

“Describe a time where you had multiple deadlines to meet, how did you manage this and what was the outcome”

“Has there been a time when you had to step in and show leadership in your team”

Here are the top tips to answer a competency interview question:

  1. Listen to the question carefully. Make sure you understand clearly which competency you’re being asked about.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to think about the question you’ve been asked. 
  1. Think of your answer as a very focused story, from the start, the challenges, the journey and the conclusion. 
  2. Get to know your professional self-better. Seek feedback from colleagues on your best skills and attitudes.
  3. Give concrete examples of what you’ve done and describe results you’ve achieved, preferably with numbers.
  4. Don’t rehearse to the point where you sound robotic.
  5. Don’t forget to convey your personality. Part of a successful answer is coming across as confident and charismatic – so you need to avoid sounding stilted or too scripted.

While its important to know what to do in an interview it’s just as important to know what not to do. 

Don’t be indifferent. 

When you decide to go for a job interview that you aren’t overly interested in no matter how qualified you are for the position you still need to display energy and enthusiasm from the start. If you come across indifferent no matter how qualified you are for the job the Interviewer won’t consider you, they will want to see that you value the role and the opportunity. 

 If halfway through the interview you learn more about the role and change your mind, it may be too late. Your Interviewer will have already picked up on your indifference and it will be difficult to turn the interview round. 

Approach every interview with the same attitude, that you really want the job.

Avoid negativity. 

You may feel negative about your current or previous employer however speaking about them in this way is unprofessional, and as we know there are always two sides to every story. 

Answering questions with a negative is a red flag for an interviewer, for example, “I’m bored with my current role”, “I don’t like my colleagues” or “I wasn’t progressing fast enough”. It’s best to give answers that are honest but still paint a positive light, for example, “I’m looking for a position with progression, however, my current position does not offer this” or “I’m looking to work with like-minded dynamic individuals”

Personal Hygiene

We have covered looking the part at the start of the guide, just as important is your personal hygiene. If you’ve had a coffee before, make sure you have mints to freshen up. Ensure that your perfume or cologne isn’t too overpowering as that can be off-putting for interviewers, less is more!

Don’t talk too much. 

It’s important to let the interviewer take the lead and set the interview tone. Always let your interviewer finish what they are saying before answering the question, don’t jump the gun as you may miss vital information or come across as over-confident. Always wait your turn to speak. 

If you have spent time preparing the points you want to get across within your interview make sure the time is right, don’t be so desperate to share what you’ve prepared that you give an irrelevant answer to the question. You may have great intentions about what you plan to say in the interview, but don’t force it if it’s not natural. 

Always ask questions

When it comes to the end of the interview, the Interviewer will usually give the opportunity for the candidate to ask questions. Make sure you ask an interesting and imaginative question, not doing so gives the impression of a lack of interest and initiative, a good example would be “How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace?” or “What are some of the biggest challenges/successes facing the department currently?”

Contact us.

For CV advice or advice on any aspect of the job application process, please contact one of our friendly team at King Recruit on 01392 790725.


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