How to nail your job interview

She’s already brought you the best tips on writing a stand-out CV (here), now she’s here to tell you how to nail the job interview. This is what managing director and founder of The Interview Doctor, Sandie Barber has to say…

1. Preparation

Preparing for your interview takes time, but it’s time well spent. Apart from providing examples as to why you’re the right person for the job, and being ready to talk about your skills and experience; here’s a few added-value top tips: 

Do your research

Look at their website and see how the company operates. Who’s who in the zoo? What is the company’s ethos? And go armed with examples of how your values match theirs.

Be human

If you know who will be conducting the interview, it is useful to find out something about them. LinkedIn will help with that. Find out what interests them and subtly weave it into the conversation – this will demonstrate your interest and investment in the opportunity.

Don’t be late

Make sure you know exactly where you’re going. Factor in travel times and allow for potential delays; write the address and contact details of the company down in case you find you forgot your phone or left it on the train on the day through nerves. It also means you won’t start the interview apologising.

2. First impressions count

The truth is, people both consciously and unconsciously make judgments based on first looks in all walks of life, so put your best self forward by:

Dressing appropriately

Maybe you have heard about the many tests done on dressing exactly the same person differently and how differently they are perceived depending on their look and changed appearance. If you do not take pride in your appearance people will assume you do not take pride in yourself. So, dress appropriately for whatever job you’re applying for – get out the ironing board and polish your shoes.

Perfecting your demeanor

It is imperative you understand that it’s also about how you walk into a room; how you do or do not make eye contact and shake a hand. 55 percent of your communication is made up of non-verbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and posture. 38 percent is through vocal elements – your voice, your intonation and how you express yourself – and only seven percent is actually through the spoken word. So, remember:

  • Make sustained eye contact with the interviewer when you’re introducing yourself and throughout your interview
  • Greet them with a firm handshake; this will show confidence and assuredness
  • Sit up straight; show them you want to be there
  • Don’t um and ah. Fill this space with quiet pauses to show you’re taking time to think and consider your answer carefully
  • Be confident and animated with your words; it’s not just about their content, but the delivery too will help them engage with you

3. What to say

When you’re in the room, you need to work it. Here are some general rules as to what to say:

Chit chat

Before your interview even starts you should create some chit chat. Show interest. For example, “Haven’t you got a lovely view from your office?” Something like this allows you to form a connection with the interviewer and ease yourself in before you get down to the important stuff. A good interviewer will initiate this to try and put you at ease. Most candidates at all levels are a little nervous, and they’ll likely understand that.

You’re great

You have to remember that you are ‘selling’ yourself. So think of yourself as a product. As a buyer, you want that product to look good, and do exactly what you want it to do. I’ve found the British seem to have an inbuilt dislike of selling themselves. Americans don’t seem to have that problem. They say what they are good at and so should you!   

4. Questions

You should always, always have some questions prepared for the interview. This will show you’re engaged, interested and passionate about the opportunity.


People tend to ask two or three questions. Here’s a selection, but you should only ask what you are comfortable with:

  • Why has this job become available? (This should create another conversation)
  • How many people will I be working with?
  • Who do I report to?
  • What kind of training will I be given?
  • Is there a trial period?
  • What is your idea of the perfect candidate for the role?
  • Are you seeing many candidates?


Remember there’s a time and place for questions. The interview is definitely neither for these:

  • How many sick days will I get?
  • How many week’s holiday?
  • What’s the salary?
  • When do I get an increase?
  • Is there a smokers’ break?

5. Post-interview

When your interview is finished, you should ask when you can expect to hear a decision on the job placement. Following this, there are two schools of thought. One, wait until you hear back from them and two, be pro-active if you haven’t heard within a few days – this isn’t a good sign, but not necessarily always a bad one, so give them a polite nudge via email or the phone.

In partnership with The Interview Doctor