Five key steps towards a successful job interview

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Most job interviews have five distinct parts. And at each stage you have the opportunity to make a positive impact.

The introduction

First impressions really do count. Making the best personal impression you can on your interviewer is crucial in securing any position.

Employers will expect you to dress smartly, arrive on time, relax and be yourself and listen carefully to questions.

More than this, be on the front foot and take the initiative. Make it easy for the interviewer. Get up from your seat, shake hands firmly, maintain eye contact and smile.

CV and role description

The second phase of the interview tends to focus on two things: a walkthrough of your CV and the interviewer running through the details of the position.

As the interviewer talks through the role, be careful to avoid the “nodding dog” syndrome. Being able to say: “Yes, that chimes with what I’ve read about the firm…”, backed up with specific examples, creates a powerful impression.

When it comes to the CV walkthrough, provide a synopsis of your career and education, outlining why you chose the career path you did. Walk through each, explaining what your duties involved, what you achieved and what you enjoyed. Focus on elements relevant to the position you are being interviewed for. End by outlining why the role on offer represents the next stage in your career.

Competency-based questioning

The interviewer will be looking for you to provide concrete examples of where you have undertaken or demonstrated the key skills or competencies the role requires.

Most of the questions will be structured along the following lines:

Can you tell me about a time when…

Describe an occasion when you have…

When has it been important in your role to…

Can you give me an example of a time when…

Use the STAR method to structure your answers – situation, task, action and result. Around 30 per cent should be focused on situation and task, 70 per cent on action and result.

Candidate questions

At first glance, this section of the interview seems the most straightforward and benign. But it can be an area where an interview can be won or lost.

Asking questions should be driven by a desire to find out information, not to impress, surprise or unsettle the interviewer. You should be looking to clarify, confirm or collect information, for example opportunities for development, what does a typical day look like in the role, culture of the team, and so on. You should not attempt to interview the interviewer.


After the interview is finished, be sure to tell the interviewer that you are interested in the job. This may seem like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised at how many people – relieved that the interview is all but over – forget to state the obvious.

In some respects, this is the most important behaviour, as it will be the last thing the interviewer will hear from you. It is difficult to dislike someone who likes you.

• Kim Bower is senior recruitment consultant for asset management at Core-Asset Consulting

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