Interview Tips

Preparing for an interview should take quite a while and the more senior the role, often means more time should be spent preparing.

When I hear that candidates have little or no knowledge about the company they are approaching for a job, I cringe. This doesn't make sense. By not preparing properly, you might as well not bother going along for the interview.

It may sound like a lot of work for nothing if you are rejected, but that doesn't matter. Because by researching the company that you wish to work for, your knowledge of the industry improves, giving you a wider understanding of that particular business.

It is quite likely that the information you discover from research, will be beneficial one day.

What should I research?

I always recommend starting with Company financials. Look over the last Report and Accounts. Look at Interim statements. You don't have to be a financial whizz, to find the basic information about the company. Usually, the Chairmans statement within the accounts will show a few key pointers. These may include market sector, numbers of units, geographical spread, growth plans, profit, turnover and outlook. It will also tell you about the company financial year end, which also will tell you the half-year end. These are important milestones for the Company as they are pressure points. Each business is measured upon their performance between financial milestones.

Compare the year before with most recent accounting period. See how it's changed. Which direction are things going and why?

Remember the key numbers; Turnover, Net Profit, Units, Ave Selling Price, Borrowings.

Site Visits (if appropriate)

Any job with the title Manager or Director, this should be an automatic task. If you are in front line sales, then I would suggest the same.

Visit at least one development of not several or all sites within a region. Take notes about the key factors. Numbers of Units, Build progress, Types and Styles, Numbers of Sales, Presentation etc.

Be On Time

There is nothing worse than being late for an interview. Don't plan your journey to arrive with in a minute of the appointment. As a rule of thumb, I always suggest being within a few minutes of the appointment location, 20 minutes early.

Arrive in reception, no more than 5 mins before the appointment.

Too early is inconvenient, too late is rude. In the nick of time will do just nicely.

Become a sponge and be careful

Whilst in reception soak up as much as you can about the immediate surroundings. Be very careful how you conduct yourself whilst waiting as you never know, who is in reception or the feedback they will give someone about you. It might be the managing directors secretary manning the phones ! Just make sure that you are alert, polite and observant.

Tea or Coffee ?

Water ! Things are less likely to go wrong if you ask for water. No risk of an unclean cup or mug, which you dread drinking from etc. It's also better for you and quicker for the person helping make the drink.

Check up from the Neck Up

Make sure that you are smart and sharp. You should look as though you mean business. Unpressed suits, dirty or worn clothing will kill your chances in the first 60 seconds.

Hair, Teeth and Make-up. Use a mirror, check you haven't got spinach between your teeth !


Sit properly, don't slouch. Don't cross your arms ever. Don't fiddle and shift about. Don't tap your feet or bounce your knee.

Relax, smile, be confident.

Ice breakers

Depending on the interviewer and how confident they wish to make you feel, the interviewer may use an 'icebreaker'. This is the term used for saying something non interview related which helps put you at ease. It might be, "How was your journey?" "Did it take long to get here?"

Or it might be really melting - "I just love your tie" or "Wow, what great hair you have !"

Whatever is said, it's usually designed to get you talking and relax.

There's nothing stopping you doing the same, if you find yourself in silence.

Maybe the hair one isn't a good example.

Closing the interview

Shake hands - not a wet fish, but a firm handshake and look the person in the eye.

Ask when or what the process is from here, to give you an indication of timescale.