Interview Guide

Basic Tips

1. Always arrive 10-15 minutes early and if you are not sure of the route, do a dummy run the night before. Being late for an interview will not impress your potential new employer.

2. Always look at and study the company’s website. It would be foolish to attend an interview without a good knowledge of the company, its products, position in the marketplace, age, size, mission statement, company values and name of the MD or CEO.

3. Always arrive in a smart business-like suit. You cannot know in advance the fashion preference of your interviewer so play it safe by being well groomed. Don’t have garish or loud make-up, clothes or jewellery.

4. Give a strong handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Don’t fidget in your chair and take a notebook and pen to make notes during the interview.

5. Take a list of questions that you want to ask about the role. These questions can be about training, prospects, type of office, members of staff in the department, canteen facilities, etc. Don’t be shy to ask questions but do not ask questions for the sake of it or questions that the client would expect you to know i.e. what is published on the website or in the job spec.

6. Write out your questions and have them with you, on your notepad to ask when appropriate. The client will be very impressed that you are so prepared.

Interview Questions

Below are some competency-based interview questions and also questions that could be asked about yourself and your suitability for the role. We advise you to study these questions very carefully before going to the interview and ensure that you have well prepared answers and scenarios.

  • Have you ever had to deal with sensitive information or a sensitive issue involving a colleague or member of your department? How did you deal with it?
  • Has there ever been a time when you had to face criticism from people. How did you deal with it?
  • Have you ever worked alongside a colleague not doing his job? How did you deal with it?
  • Have you ever encountered hostility in your team? How did you deal with it?
  • Have you ever had to train or coach someone, or help them solve a problem? Describe your actions?
  • Describe a situation where you were especially proud of what you/your team achieved. What was your role in it?
  • Explain a situation where you had to deal with tough resistance to a project?
  • Describe your greatest achievement in the workplace and how did you achieve it?

Negative Comments

  • Don’t talk negatively about a colleague, member of staff or any of your previous companies
  • Don’t pass the blame for failure onto team members or the company
  • Don’t be critical of colleagues or managers
  • Don’t show lack of confidence
  • Don’t show resistance to change
  • Show support for your team
  • Show compassion but also integrity
  • Show loyalty and allegiance to your company
  • Always be positive about your ability to deal with issues
  • Show patience and understanding when dealing with members of staff
  • Always sell yourself and your ability in a business-like manner showing humility but confidence not arrogance

Interview Preparation

You have now seen examples of competency-based interview questions. These questions can vary a great deal depending on your role and responsibilities. Look over the questions and see if any of them apply to you and your experiences and if you feel they would be relevant to the role you are applying for. For example: if you are joining a team, or will be training other team members questions 3, 4 and 5 are particularly relevant. If your role is to manage a team, questions 1, 4 and 7 could be relevant. Consider the tasks expected of you in your role. Now think of scenarios in your previous work experience which could be used to answer competency-based questions in your interview:


  • If you are taking on a sales role prepare a scenario when you closed a deal, negotiated a deal, made a large sale, exceeded target, won awards etc.
  • If you are taking on an administrative/PA role prepare scenarios when you took on and completed a project within time scales, explain the size of the project. Think of scenarios when you achieved high accuracy and high level of workloads etc. Talk about the number of people you were able to support at any one time. Show responsibility and pressure that you dealt with. Remember don’t criticise a previous manager, team or employer.

Final Tips

When answering questions about yourself:

  • Be positive
  • Sell yourself
  • Show confidence as well as humility
  • Don’t give one-word answers. Give examples where possible
  • Always give eye contact
  • Think about what your strengths and weaknesses are
  • Think of a reason why you want the job
  • Think of a reason why they should give you the job
  • Think of a reason why you feel you deserve the job
  • Be positive about your ambitions and aspirations

If you are interested in the role, make sure you tell the client, and give the reasons for your interest. Also explain what value you feel you could add to the department.

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