We have helped thousands of candidates to prepare for interviews and secure roles.  And we have found that there is usually a handful of 'typical' scenarios that candidates face in interviews and that by doing some preliminary homework and pre-empting these scenarios a candidate can really affect the likely outcome of the interview. 


Let us share these with you.  Some of these might be well known to you, some may be new.  Most of them are basic common sense, but hey, you don't want to miss out on that ideal role just because of a rookie mistake.


Before The Interview


  1. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.  Allow time for commuting delays, looking for the office, filling in forms.  If you have arrived more than 0-15 mins early, wait rather then announce yourself.

  2. Dress appropriately - a suit is an absolute must, unless you have been explicitly told otherwise in advance.  Ties are less frequent thesesdays, but if you are intervieiwng for a sales or management role, it's best to wear a tie to the first interview. 

  3. Research the company before the interview – background, main products, history and current situation.  Prepare some questions to ask the interviewers about the company.

  4. Prepare your “elevator speech”.  An “elevator speech” is slang for a brief 1-2min introduction of yourself that covers all you key points and strengths in a professional and casual way. Imagine you are in an elevator with someone and they ask you: "What do you do?".  You have 30 seconds to answer before the elevator stops!  How do you cover all you key points in 30 seconds in a way that is clear, convincing, professional and not tense?  We recommend preparing and practicing this sort of “elevator speech” - it will come useful in interviews and in other occasions.

  5. Go to the interview alone – do not take children, spouses, friends etc



During The Interview


  1. Presentation and manners - greet the interviewer with a handshake, be polite and make eye contact and smile.

  2. Listen to the interviewers questions carefully and make sure you answer exactly the question asked.

  3. Remember to use positive and pro-active words – rather than saying things like “in job ABC I tried doing EFG” or “in the role ABC my duties were supposed to be EFG” say things like “I role ABC I took responsibility for EFG”, “in ABC I managed EFG” etc.  

  4. Behavior based questions – often applicants are asked to “give an example of when they had to do ABC” or “describe how they have in the past handles a situation EFG”.  It is important in this case to answer with actual specific examples from real life, actual situations that you were faced with and how you handled them.  A typical answer should be something of the form “this was the situation, this was the problem, this was the solution I came up with, these were the steps I took to implement the solution and this was the result”.  Quite often candidates ignore the original question and instead of giving a specific example give answers like “this is what I would do” or “this is what I can do”.

  5. Do not talk about salary, unless the employer initiates first. 



Questions That The Interviewer May Ask You:


  1. What do you know about our company?  This is where your pre-interview research about the company comes in useful.

  2. Tell me about yourself?  This is where your “elevator speech” comes in handy.  Remember to keep it relevant to the job

  3. What are your weaknesses?  It's fine to tell the interviewer your weakness as long as you explain that you are aware of the weakness and have taken measures to curb it. For example: "I am a perfectionist and can therefore spend time perfecting code unnecessarily.  To make sure this doesn't affect my deadlines, I use task/time management tools a lot."

  4. What are your strengths?  Rememeber to focus your answer on those strengths that would be most relevant to the role.  If you are interviewing for a client support role, there is no need to talk in detail about your Java skills, it's best to talk about your ability to work under pressure or to communicate with people of senior level.

  5. Why have you been unemployed for such a long time? Tell the truth. Emphasize that you were looking for a good company where you can settle and make a contribution, or that you took time off to focus on studies in order to sharpen your professional qualifications, or simply that you took time off to focus on other interests in your life such as family, travel, writing, or whatever it may be.  Even if this was not “career related”, if communicated in a positive way, this will present you as a well-rounded balanced individual with healthy non-work life and this will no doubt be appealing to employers.

  6. Why should we hire you? This is also where your “elevator speech” comes in useful.  Of course this answer should be tailored to the specific role that you are interviewing for, but, just like the case of “elevator speech”, remember to keep brief, to the point, positive, appealing and at the same time not too tense of complex.

  7. What are your salary expectations? Read our previous section on some more detail on how to handle this situation.  



Questions To Ask The Employer


  1. Who would supervise me?

  2. When are you going to make a hiring decision?

  3. What are the opportunities for advancement?

  4. What kind of training is provided or available?

  5. Is there a dress code?

  6. Avoid asking about how many days of annual leave or sick leave there are, what the working hours are, etc.  Also at first interview do not ask about salary.



After The Interview


  1. Thank the interviewers for their time.  Shake hands in closing.

  2. If you found the role indeed very interesting, don’t hesitate to express this to the interviewer.

  3. Send a thank you email on the same day or next morning.

  4. Remember to call you recruitment agent for a post-interview de-brief.


Interview Tips