TRC Interview Guide - The Art of Nailing a Job Interview

For almost everyone, an interview represents the culmination of weeks or potentially months of job hunting. That’s why it can be so easy to take your foot off the accelerator once you’re invited to a sit down with your would-be future employer. As recruiters, the last thing we want to see you do is miss out on your next home.

To help ensure that you don’t do this and that you give yourself the best chance at landing your dream job, we’ve created an interview guide that runs you through all the key steps you should be considering to win over your interviewers.

Prep-time is undefeated

Before we get into the finer details with the guide, there’s one hard and fast rule that we think you should stick to for all interviews: Prep is king. Giving yourself enough time to prepare for an interview is just as crucial as putting the work in when you eventually get the job.

If a company comes to you with a time and date which isn’t feasible, don’t be afraid to say to them that you’d like more time to prepare so they can see a true reflection of your skills and expertise.

You don't get two shots at a 1st impression

As anyone will tell you, interviews are just as much about what you do as what you say. That’s why there are a few crucial things you should account for when preparing for an interview.

Leave some breathing room before the interview

No one wants to be kept waiting, and that especially goes for hiring managers. When planning your route to a job interview, make sure you leave some room for potential disruption, particularly if you have to rely on public transport and it’s somewhere you’ve never been before. Also, give yourself 10 minutes or so to sign in at their reception and calm yourself before heading in.

Look sharp

Some companies have casual dress codes, and that’s great, but a smart shirt certainly wouldn’t go amiss to play it safe. It’s far more acceptable to be overdressed than underdressed, and even though the world is a little less corporate now, you’d be surprised at how often we hear that this area is overlooked. If your interviewer is likely to be suited and booted, it would be good to replicate; you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.

Take a sip and regroup

One tip that is surprisingly effective is ensuring you have a glass of water handy during an interview. Whether that means asking for one in the office or having one by your computer, it can be a great way to calm your mind and take a second to consider a question if you feel yourself speeding up or overthinking. Erm’s and Ah’s convey uncertainty in answers, regardless of how qualified you are. You’d be surprised at the difference that extra half-second makes.

Get your setup spot on

If your interview is online via Zoom or Teams, etc, make sure you’ve got a good spot sorted that doesn’t have background noise, has a good Wi-Fi signal and doesn’t have any clutter in view of the camera. It's hard to convince someone you’re organised if they can see a pile of dirty socks behind you.

Recruiters are there for a reason

Feel like you’re getting nervous or overwhelmed, reach out to your recruiter. Any consultant worth their salt will be able to help you navigate any questions and concerns, and the reality is that’s what they’re there for. If you secured the interview yourself, try speaking to a friend, family member or your partner as a sounding board; they’ll know how to bring you back down to earth.

Know your CV like the back of your hand

Before heading into an interview, you should re-evaluate your CV and remind yourself what it was exactly that got you this opportunity. The best way to do this is to have it side-by-side with the job spec of the role you’re interviewing for.

From here, go through your CV and highlight any areas which directly relate to experience or skills listed on the job spec. Also, make a note of any particular projects or products you can point to as examples of these, your interviewer will want proof points to go alongside your knowledge.

If it’s an online interview, have these ready on a separate screen; if it’s in-person, take them in with you; that alone should show that you’ve taken your preparation very seriously.

Finally, when it comes to communicating these points to an HR team, make sure you give yourself the credit you deserve. In this environment, it wasn’t the “team” that demonstrated your experience, so tell them straight up “, I was responsible for this great product.” They’re interviewing you, not your team.

Stick to your figures

If you’ve done yourself the favour of listing tangible figures and accomplishments in your CV, make sure you check them and stick to them in your interview. Your credibility will be on the line if you bring a number to your interview that is completely different to the one you’ve quoted on your CV.

Having that proof of value in your back pocket can be the difference in winning over a hiring manager, so have them ready for your interview and make sure you know how to apply them to your potential future role and team. Data does the talking for you.

Some standard questions you should prepare for

As much as some people would try and convince you otherwise, most interviews follow a very similar format. Even more so, there are certain questions which you can be almost certain will crop up.

Below, we’ve laid some of these out for you and have helped with a rough guide on how you should approach them.

  • Why are you applying for a new role? 

Honesty is the best policy here; if you’ve been made redundant, then say so. If you’re looking for an advancement, whatever form that takes, let them know - as long as it relates to the role. One thing to note here, though: be conscious of speaking negatively about your former employer. It’s a major turn-off for employers, no matter how rough your story.

  • What in particular attracted you to this role? 

Again, be honest: if it’s because they offer a product or service that supports a cause you care about or if they produce something that you know you can improve and refine, let them know. Never answer; “Well, the recruiter said you were looking for someone with my skills, so I thought I’d come and explore it”. Like you, employers want to feel special, so this is a key opportunity to sell yourself.

  • What’s your salary expectation?

If you’re working through the process with a recruiter, you should already be aware of what this realistically is. If not, check what was originally posted on the job advert. Make sure it’s within the expected scope, or you’ll risk leaving yourself out in the cold. Don’t undersell yourself, or it will cause problems later. Don’t up it either, regardless of what you think; if you push it too high, it stands out more than you think, and you price yourself out of an amazing opportunity.

  • Are you interviewing elsewhere? 

If the answer is yes, there’s no harm in letting your interviewer know that you’re a desirable candidate for more than one organisation. Be honest about your preferences, the process, and the timescales. This will definitely work in your favour.

  • Where do you see yourself in the foreseeable future?

Make sure this answer in some way aligns with the role and the company. If you’re applying to a fintech role, they won’t be thrilled if you’re looking to become a private investigator in the next three years. It sounds obvious, but it happens (a lot) more than you think.

  • What do you know about us? 

Preparation is key for this one. Check out their website, their socials and, most importantly, their mission statement. If you can repeat it back to them while adding where you think you could contribute to it, you’re in for a winner. A word of warning, though: use some independent thought here and why it appeals to you. Rattling off a few memorised lines from the ‘About Us’ section of their website isn’t the way to win here.

With these key questions banked and ready at your disposal, you’re giving yourself a great chance of making it to the next stage in the process. Also, bear in mind you should come equipped with some questions of your own; you don’t want to miss the opportunity to ask your own tough questions.

Some very brief examples of this are:

  • Why do you like working here?
  • What changes have you experienced in your time here?
  • What does the future hold for you in this business?

People love talking about themselves, so it’s a great rapport builder for you and gives you some more insight into the type of characters you’ll be working with day to day.

Closing and following up on the interview

The best interviewees know to close out a fantastic interview, you have to go the extra mile. When the hard part is finished, make sure to thank your interviewer for their time and reaffirm how much you’d like to work with them. Then, leave the office and sit down somewhere you can decompress and reflect.

Make sure to note down any questions they asked and how you answered them; you may need them for a second stage interview. Also, if there were any areas that you think went really well or that you struggled with, write them down.

Now, you’re ready to ring your recruiter for a full debrief. They’ll go over your notes with you and be that vital external voice in unpacking how it went. It’s great to call your recruiter as quickly as possible because they’ll also be hearing from the client, so it’s best to make sure they have the full scoop on how it went before they have that call.

If you’re able to cover all these points, you’re giving yourself a real leg up at winning over your interviewer and getting in the good books of your potential employer. The key, as with everything, is giving yourself the space and time to prepare.

Looking to find your next role in tech? Check out our latest tech jobs, or just upload your CV for us to look at.

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5th February

Career Advice Blog