Prepare yourself

Analyse the job description and prepare your case

If you have only the job ad or a vague job description to go on, you should contact the recruiter or HR manager to see if they can send you a more detailed job description. If you are going through a recruitment agency, obtain as much information as you can about the job. If this is difficult, review the information you have and consider the tasks and responsibilities of the role by answering the question: "What makes me the best candidate for the job?"

Find out about the organisation which is recruiting

  • Visit their website and note any useful information you could mention during the interview. Make sure the information is relevant (to the job on offer or to the  structure and values ​​of the company).

  • Check out the company thoroughly using the Internet, newspapers or by consulting the Chamber of Commerce database. Ask the recruiter to send you a brochure on the company or other useful information. You could approach them in this way: "In order to prepare for my interview, I would like to find out more about your organisation. Please would you send me some brochures or other information?"

  • Give thought to one or two areas of the job/organisation that particularly interest you and which you would like to discuss further with the employer. Prepare relevant questions.

  • Demonstrate how motivated and interested you are.

Interview format

Try to find out in advance what the format of the interview will be:

  • A one-to-one, face-to-face interview? With whom?

  • A panel interview? How many will there be on the panel? Who are they?

  • Multiple interviews, all on the same day, with different people?

  • A group interview? How well are you able to fit into a group?

  • A telephone interview (this is often a pre-screening exercise)?

  • A skills test? (eg, you may be asked to type a document in Word to check your skill level)

  • An informal discussion?

  • A biographical interview, ie, where the questions are focused on your CV?

  • A competency interview, ie, where the questions are focused on your skills/attitudes?

The recruitment process

What is the likelihood of being invited to more than one interview? A round of interviews on one day and another interview another day?

You may be asked to perform additional tests, for example:

  • Make a presentation

  • Complete psychometric tests

  • Take part in group exercises

  • Do a practical exercise

Check the practical details

  • Venue

Make sure you know exactly where you are going. If it's a complicated journey, check it out beforehand so you don't get lost on the day.  Try to arrive 5-10 minutes before your appointment time. If, despite the best preparation, you find you are running late,  notify the employer as soon as possible and explain the cause of your delay.

  • Dress code

If in doubt, find out about dress code in advance from the company; otherwise wear something you consider appropriate and comfortable. For the banking finance and legal sectors, go for a formal business suit. It's important to be yourself but, if in doubt about what to wear, go for something more formal. Avoid anything that might distract, such as excessive jewellery or perfume.

  • Timing

Contact the recruiter/recruitment agency in advance and find out how long the interview is likely to last. It's always wise to make contingency plans in case it starts late or over-runs (eg, asking your neighbour to pick up the children after school). You can check the time discreetly during the interview. 

If the interview is informal (eg, organised through your network of contacts), or if you are called in for a meeting following a speculative application, prepare as thoroughly as you would for formal interview. Try to find out as much as you can about the meeting (eg, how many people will attend, etc).