Interview Preparation

If you know, deep down, you are sleepwalking into your next interview, why do it?

Updated: 5th February 2024

Preparing to fail?

If you know, deep down, you are sleepwalking into your next interview, why do it?

As recruiters, we see it all the time. Is it a British thing? ‘I can’t sell myself’ or ‘If they want me, they will offer me’.

On the one hand, I understand it. An interview is not something you look forward to. On the other hand, the rewards can be life changing. So why not take some time out to learn how to prepare correctly and massively improve your chances of success?

We are very proactive in our approaches to candidates. We can instantly see, due to our market presence and experience, which firms’ candidates could be of interest to our client base. Usually, we contact ‘dormant’ candidates or not active job seekers.

The dynamic may be different under these circumstances when you meet a potential employer, but the fact of the matter remains. YOU MUST DO YOUR INTERVIEW PREP!

The fact an employer has asked to meet with you informally does not mean they will hire you regardless. An informal conversation can tell them all they need to know regarding your suitability to their firm. Bearing this in mind, whilst your academic achievements and your current role and experience may have opened the door for you, you could ruin all this hard work by delivering a poor performance at this meeting.

What you can do to ensure this does not happen:

  1. Squeeze the recruiter for all the information they have on the interviewer, the department they represent, and the firm. They will tell you the vital information you will need not only for the interview but to manage the decision-making process should an offer arise.
  2. Research the firm, the management structure, values, and mission statements.
  3. Study their social media posts and understand how they sell their business. They will expect you to know.
  4. Understand how to describe your current role in a sharp and concise manner. Practice it and say it out loud.
  5. Rehearse how to describe why you would leave your current role for a new one.
  6. Tackle any particular elephants on your CV. A failed exam, stayed too long in a previous firm, and rehearse your answer should a question pop up.
  7. How can you describe any potential interest in their firm? Can you speak enthusiastically why you might want to work there?
  8. Firm handshakes, bright smiles, and engaging in small talk are the essentials of any first-time meeting.
  9. Be on time. NEVER BE LATE.
  10. Attend as if this were a business meeting. Your potential employer will be looking at you and thinking ’Would they represent our firm well?’


An interview is like an audition
If you were a Shakespearean actor, with 30 years’ experience playing Hamlet etc and you attended an interview to play Derek Trotter in a stage production of Fools and Horses, would you give the same performance as in your previous roles? Skull in hand and in medieval costume?


You would have turned up in a sheepskin coat, cigar and flat cap.

You would call the interviewer luv and rattled on like a Bermondsey barrow boy.

Extreme example but every interview, every job, every company, every location and every interviewer is different.

Be yourself of course but prepare differently for each role. The end result is based on your ability to match the role and make it easier for the interviewer to see the match.

If you don’t, someone else will.

In accountancy terms, if you arrive for interview at a smaller firm, a larger corporate firm, for a promotion or stepping down a grade, you will need to adopt a certain tone and a certain style that gives confidence to the interviewer that you match the role and the firm.

When advisors say, ‘just be yourself at interview’ what do they mean? Be a cockney geezer or a cheeky chappie or a bright studious academic when in reality…

At interview you need to be what they want you to be…to a degree. Get through the interview and gauge your reaction to the job, company and offer at a later stage.

Knowledge is king

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