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Preparing For Your Interview

Alchemy Can Help!

Alchemy has been successfully placing candidates into exciting new positions for over twenty-five years. Our Consultants are industry experts and will be happy to provide you with interview coaching services at all levels. 

For specific coaching on your upcoming interview please contact your Consultant; however as a starting point we have put together this help sheet to offer you some initial, helpful tips and techniques... 


  • You have been selected for interview - well done you! Give yourself the best chance of success by ensuring you have prepared properly in advance. 
  • Equipping yourself with the right knowledge and preparation will help you to feel confident, reducing those job-interview-jitters!

Do your research!

  • Get online and research the company you are interviewing with - there is nothing worse than interviewing somebody who has no idea about the company or position they have applied for...
  • Show the interviewer that you have done your homework!

Top tip! A common interview question is 'What do you know about our organisation?' Make sure you prepare a properly considered response in advance. 

Areas to research

  • History (how old is the company? How has the company grown and developed?)
  • Locations (where is the company HQ based? Are there multiple sites?) 
  • Services/products (what does the company offer its client base?)
  • Size (how big is the company? How many people?)
  • Business objectives (how does the company add value to its clients and make a profit?)

Top tip! Spend a few minutes memorising the company's mission statement, goals or objectives which for larger companies, are often listed on the company website. 

Check out LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network. Visit: www.linkedin.com
  • If you know the name of the person conducting your interview, why not check out their LinkedIn profile?
  • Looking at the interviewer's LinkedIn profile will give you an indication of their background and knowledge. 
  • Perhaps you will find something in common with the interviewer? For example, shared or similar education or experience.
  • The company's LinkedIn profile could also be a great source of information for your preparatory research. 

Dress code 

  • Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression - dressing appropriately and appearing clean and well-groomed is essential for any interview!
  • When choosing what to wear to an interview it is vital to consider the company you are interviewing with. 
  • Many corporate offices will prefer their colleagues to wear traditionally smart business attire. Therefore if interviewing in a corporate office you should choose a corporate/conservative look; this might include tailoring (suits, blouses, shirts and ties) with smart leather shoes and a briefcase. 
  • If the company interviewing you is more creative or physical, you may be able to wear something a little more 'smart-casual' (such as a shirt with pullover jumper, smart black jeans and more casual footwear). 
  • Whatever you choose to wear to an interview, ensure it is clean, ironed and in good condition. Turning up to an interview in scruffy or dirty clothing is never acceptable. 
  • Consider your personal grooming, do you look clean and tidy? Visit the hairdressers, have a shave or apply subtle makeup - feeling good about your appearance will help you to feel confident during interview!
  • If you are feeling unsure about what to wear to your interview, simply contact the recruiter to ask. 

Top tip! If you aren't sure what to wear, remember that it is always better to look too smart than too casual (choose a conservative look and wear tailoring)! This way you will show that you have made the effort to look professional. 

Don't be late!

  • Be punctual, always arrive slightly early for an interview (arriving 10 minutes early is ideal).
  • Don't be surprised if the interviewer keeps you waiting for a while - this is a common interview tactic. 
  • Being late for an interview is not excusable. To avoid this, research the journey to the interview location in advance, allowing yourself extra time for traffic or any delays. Consider where you will park!

Top tip! If you do encounter a genuine issue which may cause you to be late, alert your recruitment agency or the company that you are interviewing with as soon as possible, as matter of courtesy. They may be able to reschedule the interview if necessary. 

Bring a positive attitude 

  • Ensure you present your personality and skill set in a warm and friendly yet professional manner. 
  • Always smile and shake the interviewer's hand firmly and introduce yourself at the start of the interview. 
  • Wait to be offered a seat before sitting down in the interview room. 
  • Ensure your body language comes across as interested and alert; sit upright with good posture, look the interviewer in the eye and allow the interviewer to finish their questions before you speak. 
  • Be mindful that being a good candidate involves being a good listener rather than just a good speaker - be both - keep your answers concise and to the point (don't go off topic).
  • Follow the interviewer's leads but try to obtain a full description of the position and duties expected early into the interview so that you can relate your appropriate experience and skills. 
  • Accentuate your good points to the interviewer in a factual and sincere manner, remember you are the best salesperson for your own abilities!

Top tip! Interviewers usually ask candidates if they have any questions regarding the company or the position - make sure you have some questions prepared in advance, as this will help you to appear interested and enthusiastic. 

Common interview questions to prepare for:

  • What made you join this industry?
  • Why would you like to work for our company?
  • Why do you want to leave your current employer?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Highlight your main achievements. Give details/specific examples?
  • What interests you about your industry?
  • How does this role differ from your current role?
  • What have you learned in your career?
  • What are your weaknesses and what are your strengths?
  • Can you talk me through your career history so far? (Be prepared to discuss your CV in detail)!
  • What is your management style? (Firm but fair? Nurturing? Motivational?) 

Top tip! If you are asked 'Whom do you know in the industry?' Answer very carefully! Name dropping is not always wise, do not disclose colleagues or associates, it takes matters out of your control and could go against you. 

Good questions/topics to discuss with the interviewer:

  • Reason for the vacancy being available?
  • Is an induction or training provided?
  • Are there are current plans for company expansion? 
  • Are there career prospects and opportunities for advancement?
  • What is the company culture like?

Things to avoid during the interview:

  • When answering questions, do not 'waffle' or go off topic, be clear and to the point. 
  • Always turn off your mobile/cell phone during interviews (there is nothing more embarrassing than having to decline a call in front of the interviewer)! 
  • Avoid answering questions with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Instead, provide an explanation describing your skills and experience which relate directly to the question being asked. 
  • Never make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or colleagues - always keep your language polite and professional. If asked your reasons for leaving your current role, be positive about seeking a new challenge and a fresh start. 
  • Do not walk into the interview with an overbearing, aggressive, conceited 'know-it-all' attitude - it is great to be confident, however ensure you do not come across as arrogant. 

Employers frequently give the following reasons for not hiring a candidate following an interview:

  • Poor personal appearance or lack of grooming 
  • Inability to express thoughts clearly, poor diction or grammar
  • Lack of confidence - overly nervous 
  • Over-emphasis on money/benefits - only interested in remuneration, holiday or benefits 
  • Evasive - making excuses for unfavourable factors 
  • Lack of tact, maturity or courtesy 
  • Criticism of past employers or colleagues 
  • Failure to look the interviewer in the eye 
  • Disinterested or negative attitude 
  • Limp handshake 
  • Failure to ask relevant questions about the job and company

Top tip! All of the points highlighted by these potential employers are avoidable with some thought, self-reflection and preparation on the part of the candidate. Take a moment to consider how you would like to portray yourself during interview. 

Should you discuss salary?

  • Generally, you should avoid discussing salary, holiday or benefits at the first meeting.
  • However, if the interviewer does raise salary, holiday or benefits in the conversation do not be caught off guard, be ready to specify your requirements. 
  • If you are working with a recruitment agency they will be able to advise you on this subject directly. 

Closing the interview 

  • If you are interested in the position, enquire about the next interview stage if applicable. 
  • If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, accept on the spot. If you wish for some time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for the time. Set a definite date when you can provide an answer. 
  • Don't be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to consult with colleagues first or interview other candidates before making a final decision. 
  • If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don't let your discouragement show. Sometimes an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem disheartened or to discourage you to test your reaction. Always appear cool, calm and collected! 

Top tip! At the end of the interview, always ensure you thank the interviewer for the time they have spent with you! Shaking hands again on exit is often a nice way to close the interview.