Successful Interviews    


Meet Henry Hirenfire!!

Chances are, you've met him already.

Brusque, aggressive and much inclined to speak in short, snappy, sound bites of business jargon.

Delights in putting his candidates under pressure 'just to see how they react' with intimidating questions along the lines of "what makes you think that you are good enough to work here?"

But if you really want the job, you will need to deal with the likes of Henry.


  Successful Interviews - Essential Guide ot Interview Technique  


Interviews are far from being the perfect method of assessing a person's ability to perform in a particular role.

Some large companies improve on the basic interview by running 'assessment centres' which provide a more in-depth evaluation, usually over several hours or even a few days.

However, for most job hunters, success or failure depends on a single interview lasting perhaps 45 minutes.



Interview Objectives

From the employer's point of view, the  interview has a twofold purpose.

Firstly, they need to find out whether the candidate has the necessary 'skills and qualifications' for the job.

The second objective, often overlooked by employers, is to 'brief' the applicant and 'sell' the concept of working for the organisation.

Even if you are rejected, there should be a feeling of 'goodwill' in case a more-appropriate position arises in the future.

Unfortunately, very few interviews pan-out like that and you are much more likely to be faced with the aggressive types like Henry Hirenfire who regards  the  interview as a gladiatorial contest.

You may also meet totally-unprepared interviewers who have been drafted-in at the last moment or 'timid'  interviewers who find the proceedings more stressful than the candidates.

In fact, most interviews assessments are based on an unscientific 'gut-feel' for your personality which can be rather difficult to judge if neither side has much to say.

Always, the best strategy is to prepare thoroughly, assume that you will do most of the talking and take control of the interview if necessary.


Tough Interview Questions


Henry Hirenfire says:

 I can always tell the candidate who has read the book on interviewing.

You get the bone-crushing firm handshake, the zombie-like eye contact, the contrived body language and the rehearsed 'model' answers to every question.




I won't dwell on the issues of turning up on time, sober and presentable except to say that a job interview is not the appropriate place for making 'fashion' or 'lifestyle' statements.

Do plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early as there is nothing more irritating than hanging around waiting for people to show-up.

Candidates often worry about how they should 'play it' at interview, regarding the meeting as some sort of theatrical performance.

Inevitably, our advice is to be yourself  - Unless you are a trained actor, your attempts at acting will be unconvincing.

A far more-useful area of preparation is to work out what is you want to say bearing in mind that 'content is more important than style'.

Researching the employer is well worth the effort as most will assume that no knowledge equals no interest.

Always be prepared for interviews under less-than-ideal conditions which might include constant interruptions, several interviewers or even the recording of your performance.



Interviewing Tips


Ronnie Résumé says:

Always take an up-to-date copy of your CV to the interview and use it as a structure for your presentation.

Don't assume that the interviewer already has one



Structured Presentation

The key to a successful interview is a structured presentation putting over all of the information or 'sales points' that you wish to convey.

Doubtless, there will be initial small talk to 'put you at your ease' but you may need to take the initiative and get down to business if the chit-chat drifts on.

As with any speech or presentation, the most difficult part is getting started.

Typically, you should go through your  career from the beginning but providing more detail on your recent work.

Although your presentation may well be covered in the CV, the employer needs to hear it 'from the horses mouth' in order to better assess your 'depth' of experience.

Your presentation will also be used to assess various 'personality' attributes such as confidence, communication skills,  motivation and initiative.   

Of course, you should respond to any  questions although the well-prepared presentation will have anticipated most of these.

For example, it is better to state why you left a particular job rather than being put into the 'defensive' position of having to explain yourself.

Listen carefully to any questions and respond spontaneously - Be sure to ask for clarification if necessary.

An experienced interviewer will not be impressed by an obviously 'rehearsed' or 'textbook' answer.

Avoid "yes" or "no" answers which are guaranteed conversation killers.

Honesty is most important as very few candidates are able to sustain lies or exaggeration in the face of competent questioning.

Towards the end of your structured presentation, you need to give the employer an indication of your current aspirations and why you are interested in their particular vacancy.


Interview Tips


Henry Hirenfire says:

If you were selling a photocopier, you wouldn't plonk it down on the table and wait for the client to ask questions about it - So why do so many candidate use that approach at job interviews?







Interview Skills


Ronnie Résumé says:

Don't let expenses become an issue at your interview - make any arrangements in advance.

For permanent jobs, most employers are happy to pay the equivalent of second-class rail fare if you have travelled some distance but don't start adding lunches, dinners, travel insurance and vehicle repairs.


Technical Questions

Candidates for technical jobs should be prepared to answer technical questions although in-depth technical interviews are rare.

If you don't know an answer, it is better to say so rather than guessing or arguing the 'relevance' of the question.

Technical assessment may take the form of a discussion, a practical test or a written test of which the 'multiple choice' variety is the most popular.

Do be careful in the use of 'jargon', which often means different things to different people - You may well be called upon to explain yourself.

In many ways, a formal test is better than the interviewer who asks two favourite questions which inevitably relate to features that the candidate has never used.


Connie Contractor


Connie Contractor says:

If you are going for a technical job, be prepared to answer technical questions.

"I can look it up in the manual" does not impress. 


Personality Tests

Personality tests are increasingly being used as part of the selection process.

The older IQ tests are still in common use together with recent variations such as the Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ).

Whatever you think of these methods, it is sensible to prepare for them.

We  recommend using the PeopleMaps Personality Profiler. You even can try it first for free. Click here>>


Henry Hirenfire

Henry Hirenfire says:

The almost infallible sign of an imminent untruth is when the candidate says "I'll be honest with you".

Salary Discussions

Candidates can be surprisingly cagey when it comes to salary discussions.

Indeed, some 'experts' will tell you not to mention salary until the employer has made an offer.

In our experience, most employers are disinclined to make an offer unless they feel that it will be accepted - They don't like being rejected any more than  you do.

So don't say "make me an offer and I will give it my due consideration" - Tell them what you want.


Ronnie Resume


Ronnie Résumé says:

Employers will sometimes ask stupid questions.

Just answer as politely as you can and keep any negative feelings well-hidden.



As previously mentioned, the candidate will benefit from showing enthusiasm for the job.

So when they use the favourite winding-up technique of asking "do you have  any questions about us?", you should always have a couple 'in hand' just to demonstrate your interest.

Do not, however, proceed to interrogate the employer at length.

Many interviewers can be deliberately 'inscrutable' and it is often quite difficult to judge how well you have done.

Furthermore, they will usually need to consult others before a job is offered -  Not all employers follow our advice of "if you like them - tell them".

It is always worth asking, without being presumptuous, when you are likely to learn the result of the interview.

Finally, do leave a positive impression by thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration.


Connie Contractor


Connie Contractor says:

The best way to become good at  interviews is to do a few.

Practice really does make perfect.



Footnote - Be Safe

For those readers who may be young people entering the job market for the first time, we would like to emphasize the need for appropriate precautions when attending interviews in remote locations or out of normal working hours.


How to Fail an interview (Article) 

PeopleMaps Personality Profiler - UK-based company offering on-line personality tests.

Public Speaking - Interviews are a form of public speaking endured by all job-seekers and communication skills are also a vital asset in all walks of life.

Speaking clubs are a low-cost method of boosting confidence and learning to deliver your 'message' effectively.

To find a suitable club in your area, try The Association of Speakers Clubs, Toastmasters International or The English Speaking Union 

For more advanced speaking, try The Professional Speakers Association.

Eurofile also provide a telephone and on-site PC support service aimed at small businesses and individuals - Details on:

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