Candidate Interview Guide

Part 1 – Before the interview…


Preparing yourself

If you have spent time objectively considering what you have to offer to a prospective employer you will feel more comfortable presenting these strengths, skills, and aptitudes to an interviewer.

Taking the time to think through the following areas will help you to understand yourself better. Completing the exercises, yourself and asking for the opinions of someone you trust will also help you to be objective and consider other people’s perceptions of you.

Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview
  • Your skills and aptitudes
  • Your strengths
  • Your achievements
  • Your areas for improvement
  • The whole picture

The interview is an opportunity to stand out and be noticed. An interviewer will often see many candidates in one day and the one who will be remembered is the one who was distinctive, had something interesting to say and left a definite impression.

Your skills and aptitudes

An interviewer will be looking to establish what you are able to do in terms of your skills and aptitudes.

Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview
Your strengths

Your skills show what you can do, and your strengths show how you do them. Use the following list to help you identify your strengths.

  • Assertive
  • Conscientious
  • Creative
  • Determined
  • Displays initiative
  • Enthusiastic
  • Flexible
  • Quick to learn
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-reliant
Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview
Your weaknesses

You will often be asked about your weaknesses in an interview, it is important to be honest and self-aware when choosing weaknesses. Here are some tips below to assist you.

  • Avoid choosing a strength and presenting it as a weakness, select a genuine area of weakness.
  • Demonstrate the steps you’re taking to overcome your weakness and how you overcome it on a day-to-day basis.
  • Avoid a flaw that is fundamental to the job itself.
Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview
Your achievements

To help you consider your achievements, make a list of all your accomplishments, for example:

  • Your academic record from school, college, or university
  • Your qualifications, professional or technical
  • A difficulty you have overcome
  • A significant problem you have solved
  • A skill you have mastered
  • A way in which you have improved results
  • An example of when you led or supervised a group
  • An initiative you came up with
  • Any other area in which you have studied
  • A sporting accomplishment


An interview is often described as a “selling” exercise in which you sell your skills, experience, and personality to the interviewer. Your challenge is to persuade an interviewer that you are worth “buying”. Remember that if the company recruits you, they have taken a decision to make a long-term investment in you and it is in their interests to make the right choice.

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Do your research…

The more research you can do, the better prepared you will be and the bigger advantage you will have over other candidates. The key areas to research are:

  • The interview
  • The job
  • The company
Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview

The interview

In order to plan your route and travel arrangements, you will need to find out the date, time and location of your interview. If you are unsure of the location or journey, you may want to do a “trial” run before the day of the interview to make sure you can arrive in plenty of time.

At the beginning or end of the interview, you may be asked to undertake some form of test or other assessment. For example, for an industrial position, you may be asked to complete a numeracy and literacy test. Whilst you may feel nervous about taking a test or assessment remember it is the best way a company must check your skills or aptitude.

Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview

The job

It is essential that you know as much as you can about the job for which you are going to be interviewed. Make time to discuss this with your consultant, prior to your appointment.

If you have been sent a job description prior to the interview, make sure you read this through several times and that you understand what the job will involve.

If you know anyone who does the same or similar role, talk to them to obtain first-hand information about the job.

Candidate Interview Guide Pt 1 – Pre-interview

The company

At the interview, you are likely to be asked what you know about the company. This can be one of the easiest ways to demonstrate that you have taken the time and trouble to find out about the company and therefore stand out from other candidates.

You should try to find out as much as possible from as many different sources as you can. Aim to discover in what areas and markets the company operates, its size, structure and geographical locations, when the company was formed, a brief history, how well the company is doing in terms of profitability or its reputation, who are its competitors.

You can also use social media to find out more about the company and their latest news and projects. You can follow their Facebook page, check their profile on LinkedIn, follow their Twitter profile and like them on Facebook. Remember that depending on the settings of your own profile, the company may be able to see all your personal details. If you have a LinkedIn account, make sure it is updated and matches your CV.

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