Preparing for your interview
Many of our candidates ask us for advice on how to best present themselves at interview. If you are entering the job market for the first time, or after a long period in a position, this can often be a daunting task. Remember that regardless of your ‘on paper’ experience, the impression that you convey at interview can be make or break.
Preparing for your interview is vital. Allow yourself enough time to ensure that you have properly researched the organisation & interviewer and prepare questions that you may have. We have provided you with some guidance below:-
Good preparation is paramount to perform well at interview. It will also give you confidence, and help allay any nerves. Preparation can be both practical and knowledge based. The following are key points that you must follow:
- Ensure you have all relevant details such as time, date and interview location, as well as the interviewer name(s) where appropriate. It is important that you take personal responsibility for these details and chase your consultant if they have not been provided – remember that your interview is one of many they are involved in every day.
- Plan your journey and factor in the chance of delays. DON’T be late. You may work long hours and be under time pressure, but if you are interviewing at another firm the chances are your interviewer is in a similar situation. Thus a negative impression is immediately created if you affect the smooth running of their day.
- Research the firm you are interviewing with, the role you are interviewing for, and your interviewer’s background if relevant. Information sources include the internet, friends and your recruitment consultant. Think about the institution’s background, current projects, culture, mission statements etc.
- It is essential that you are able to talk about the company, how many offices they have, how long they have been in operation, where their head office is based. Also look at the news section, see if anything of note has happened recently & be able to mention it in the interview. This creates the impression that you have taken an interest in the company, that you have actively decided you are interested in them & what they do, rather than just going for everything your agency puts you forward to.
- Read the job description carefully and think of ways in which your experience would benefit the company and where the challenges would lie for you.
- Make sure you know your CV – check dates of employment as these may have to be confirmed. Ensure that you are able to relate your discussion back to points you have raised on your CV.
- Wear a dark suit, white shirt / top and plain tie (men). Clean your shoes, shave (if appropriate!) and ensure your hair is tidy. Makeup, if worn, should be conservative.
This is an extremely important, and often ignored, part of an interview. It is said that a person will form an opinion of you in the first five minutes of a meeting. This is often based on sub-conscious reading of your body language. Remember the following:
- A good handshake gets you off to a great start. It should be firm without crushing their hand!
- Don’t fidget. Practice a comfortable way of sitting before you go to the interview. Don’t play with your hair, clothes, pen or business card; it will seem as though you are bored, and not paying attention. It will also imply nerves.
- Maintain natural eye contact, and, in the case of multiple interviewers, look at who is talking to you. When giving your answer shift your gaze between the two, to involve both in the discussion.
- Use affirmative actions such as nodding and saying ‘yes’ and ‘mmm’ as they speak. This will show that you can listen and understand.
Job interviews are easier if you plan and prepare some questions and answers.
- Research as much as you can about the company, for example: – products and services, markets and trends, competitors, current activities, priorities i.e. a brief SWOT analysis.
- Prepare your answers for the type of questions you will be asked; be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you would do the job and what your achievements are.
- Assemble hard evidence; make sure it is clear and concise, summarising how and what you have achieved in the past – proof will put you ahead of those who merely talk about it.
- Make sure the interviewer knows you have other interviews and/or are holding a job offer.
- Ensure your CV is current, concise, grammatically correct and well presented. Take 3 copies with you to the interview (even if your CV has already been supplied) for the interviewer, yourself and a colleague who may be present.
- Study the company website and literature; remember the key points – especially those pertinent to the job you are applying for.
- Review your personal goals; be able to speak openly and honestly about them and how you plan to achieve them.
- Ensure you have strong, reputable and relevant references. Check your referees are happy to be contacted
- Become enthusiastic and alert, with a positive mind-set.
- Gain some experience of personality tests. Discover your personality strengths and weaknesses, and be able to answer questions positively. Do not be intimidated by them!
Sample Questions and Answers
What will you bring to the company/job if we employ you?
- Think about your objectives if you were offered the job – the priorities and requirements, targets and aims (ask if you are not sure)
- Ensure your answer includes bringing in products on time and in budget
- Answer with some flair – focus of improving morale and motivation
- Try to work the style and behaviour attributes of the interviewer into your answer, since most interviewers prefer people like themselves
“I can see that quick results are a priority – that’s something I’m good at generating. I have the ability and experience to interpret situations, with a strong focus on activities which will achieve results in the necessary areas.”
“I’m diplomatic with people, which means I can generally bring people along with me; if needs be though I can be firm and determined enough to convince people who need a bit of extra encouragement.”
Tell me about the culture at your last company/employer?
- In the past, if culture was good, explain how and why. Use terms the interviewer is likely to identify with:
“The culture encouraged people to develop and take responsibility. They were coached and mentored towards quality and productive effort. This personally helped, as I identify with the values instilled and I could respond to the opportunities.”
- When referring to a non-supportive culture, express the positive aspects:
“There was the freedom to personally take initiative and responsibility. I enjoyed finding new ways to contribute and found the free market allowed those with a good work ethic to naturally excel. The culture allowed individuals to develop reputation and internal working relationships”
Tell me about your life at College or University, or your time in your previous job?
- Demonstrate the qualities that the interviewer is seeking – be careful not to distort the truth
- Emphasise positive behaviour, experience and achievements – back this up with examples and evidence which is relevant to the requirements of the role
- Interviewers with a special interest in behaviour and personality may also use this question to assess your self-awareness and maturity
- Consider your answer carefully and relate it to your own experience and development
Where do you want to be in 2, 5 or 10 years time?
- You can’t accurately predict where you will be career-wise, so avoid specifics in the work place. Exceptions to this are if the career you are in offers a predictable and structured progression
- Answer by outlining the situation you’d like to be in, reinforcing your personal “selling” points. Employers respond well if they see that you are mature, independent, self-motivated and goal oriented
“I’d like to be making a significant contribution to the organisation I’m working for, including the development of new skills, abilities and maturity.”
“To be better regarded by my peers, and respected by my superiors, as someone who can continue to increase the value and scale of my role within the organisation.”
“I’d like more responsibility, because that’s a result of personal growth and progression, and it’s important for my personal satisfaction.”
“I have no set aspirations about money and reward; I aim to contribute and add value to the organisation, generally increased reward follows – you get out what you put in.”
“Long term, I want to make the most of my abilities – if possible I want to build a serious career, but these days nothing is certain and things can change. I’ll do my best and I believe that opportunities will arise which will enable me to keep contributing, increasing my worth, and developing my ability in a way that benefits both the organisation and me.”
Give an example of when you had to settle a dispute between two individuals.
- Understand your relationship to the individuals – seek clarification if it is not clear
- A basic outline is to calm the individuals and arrange a conversation between them, with a mediator, at the earliest opportunity, in an appropriate environment (e.g. a closed meeting room)
- The meeting is to facilitate a discussion of the issues at hand and to arrive at a mutually beneficial compromise in order to move forward
- It’s important to understand each person’s standpoint and feelings, without agreeing with them. An exception is when the argument concerns a clear breach of policy or wrong behaviour. In this situation, the transgressor should be counselled separately
What is your ideal job?
- Qualify this question by asking for a timescale – at what point in your career? This shows you are considering an answer, producing a serious response rather than a thoughtless and fanciful one
- Use this opportunity to sell your strengths as an asset to the organisation. Create a picture of a loyal, results-orientated person, who makes a significant contribution to the organisation. Note that your status and level depends on the timescale
- A poor answer triggers a follow-up question, putting pressure on the interviewee to justify your response
- Wrong answers include: ‘boss of my own company’, ‘your job’, ‘the top salesman on half a million a year’, ‘CEO of this company’, “pop star”, “a railway engine driver” etc
- Good answers include: ‘A manager/executive within this organisation, function relative to experience and skill set where I have the responsibility and accountability for using my skills and efforts to achieve great results, work alongside great people, and get a fair reward.’
“I’d like to become an expert in my field, state function if relevant, where I’m able to use my skills and abilities to make a real difference to the company’s performance.”
Why do you want this job?
- Reflect on the qualities required and job priorities – these are the things you do best and enjoy
- Say why you think the company is good, and that you want to work for an organisation like it
What did you achieve in your last job?
- Prepare a number of relevant examples
- Explain one or two, possibly a third if the interviewer is responding well. Ensure you are central, as an instigator or factor that makes the difference
- Examples must lead to significant organisational benefits; making or saving money, saving time, improving quality, anticipating/creatively solving problems, winning/keeping customers and improving efficiency
How would you approach this job? How would you do it?
Identify two or three main issues and outline how you would handle them. This shows your ability to focus on the important tasks. These tasks are likely to be:
- planning and organising
- ensuring communications and relationships are positive and effective
- reviewing activities and resources against outputs, improving where possible
Emphasise your personal strengths that are very relevant to the role requirements.
What are your strengths?
- Prepare three that are relevant to the requirements of the role
- Be able to analyse why and how you are strong in those areas
- Mix behaviour, knowledge and experience with skills – show that you understand the difference
- You should have a quiet confidence – don’t be arrogant or over-confident
What are your weaknesses?
- Start by saying that you don’t believe you are ‘weak’ in any area
- Acknowledge areas that you can improve, and pick some improvements in unimportant/irrelevant areas
- These are the clever weaknesses (they’re actually strengths): not suffering fools gladly; sometimes being impatient with other people’s sloppy work; being too demanding; refusing to give in when you believe strongly about something and trying to do too much
What would your referees say about you?
Use this as another opportunity to state relevant strengths, skills and behaviours
How do you handle tension/stress?
- You tend not to get tense or stressed because you plan and organise properly
- You look after the other things that can cause stress – health and fitness, diet and lifestyle
- Talk about channelling pressure positively – thinking, planning and maintaining a balanced approach
What was the last book you read and how did it affect you?
- Be honest, as the interviewer might have read it too
- There’s no shame in admitting to lightweight reading material, if that’s what you like
- Ensure to put the book in context and explain why you read it – give a positive result
- Be able to give an intelligent reaction to what you’ve read. Don’t be too clever or try to impress, as nobody likes a smart arse!
Tell me about a big challenge or difficulty you’ve faced; how did you deal with it?
- Avoid anything too personal or emotional
- Prepare an example that’s work-related and relevant to the role
Tell me about something recently that really annoyed you?
- Don’t get trapped into admitting to a temper or loss of control
- You tend to get more annoyed with yourself than with other people or situations
- Annoyance isn’t very productive, so try to understand and concentrate on finding a solution to a problem, or righting a wrong
Give me some examples of how you have adapted your own communicating style to deal with different people and situations.
- Prepare this as one of your strengths – good communication skills are appropriate for every job
- Try to give examples of how you’ve had to be detailed and given written confirmation for people who need it
- Give examples of how you verbally encourage and motivate people who respond to challenge and recognition. Put your own examples where you adapt your style to suit the interviewer
- Give examples when you’ve had to be task-driven, process-driven, people-driven, and how you change your style accordingly
- Use this as a chance for you to truly shine!
Can we check your references?
Yes although please don’t contact my current employer until after I have accepted an offer
What type of people do you get on with most/least?
Say generally you get on with everyone and you respond best to genuine, positive and honest people
Excellent answer, now can you give me an example that wasn’t so good?
- You may be hit with this if you’re too contrived or clever, in which case give an example of something that didn’t quite go so well
- Make sure you present it positively and say what you learned from it
- Don’t try to maintain that you’re perfect – show a little human weakness
Give me an example of when you’ve produced some poor work and how you’ve dealt with it.
- Don’t ever admit to producing poor work
- You know that you’ve made one or two mistakes in your career – everyone does – you aim to correct them, learn from them and ensure you never make the same mistake twice
What do you find difficult in work/life/relationships?
- Pick an irrelevant skill – it’s not as easy as you’d like it to be, but you are working on improving. Don’t own up to a weakness in an area that’s important to the role
- Don’t make this up on the spot – think about it and be truthful
- Certain difficulties are quite acceptable: suffering fools gladly, giving up an impossible task, tolerating unkind behaviour such as bullying, an ability to accept you can’t solve global issues alone
How do you plan and organise your work?
- Planning is crucial – think before you do. In unknown territory you should take advice and learn from examples
- Prioritise and be strong in personal time management
- Understand the difference between urgent and important
“For very complex projects, I’d produce a detailed schedule and plan review stages. I even plan time-slots for activities that aren’t in-themselves organised; such as thinking time, creativity and problem solving.”
How much are you earning/do you want earn?
- Be honest about what you’ve been earning and be realistic about what you want to earn
How many hours a week do you work/prefer to work?
- You should answer this, primarily with a statement that the hours you work depend on the situation
“I plan and organise well, so unless there’s a crisis or unusual demand I try to finish at a sensible time so as to have some time for my family/social life/outside interests.”
- It’s important to keep a good balance. It’s not about the number of hours – it’s the quality of the work that you do; how productive you are
“I start earlier than most people – you can get a lot done before the phones start ringing. When the pressure’s on, I’m happy to work as long as it takes to get the job done.”
Do you make mistakes?
“Yes of course on occasions, but I obviously try not to, and I always try to correct them and learn from them.”
How do you measure your own effectiveness?
- Use that you are an achiever – you measure your effectiveness by the results, and the methods by which you achieve
- If there isn’t an existing measure of this I’ll usually create one
How do you like to be managed /not like to be managed?
- Be truthful, but express your answer in a positive manner
- Do not respond to the negative and give any example of how you do not like to be managed
“I’m generally adaptable to many management styles. In the past, I have achieved my potential by talking to my bosses and developing a good rapport. I work best when given the freedom and responsibility to relieve my boss’ work load, they have enough to deal with.”
What personal goals do you have and how are you going about achieving them?
- Prepare for this question
- Be able to state your personal and career goals – ensure they’re reasonable, achievable and balanced
- Outline your personal steps to reach your aims – show that you plan to progress, as this is important. Show that you are flexible and adaptable – it’s impossible to predict the future so show that the focus is on learning and developing, and that you take advantage of opportunities as they come along
How do you balance work and family/social commitments?
- Balance is essential
“All work and no play is no good for anyone, but obviously work must be a priority when I aim to achieve and progress. I plan and organise my work so, by getting results, I have time for my outside interests without conflict.”
What can you do for us that other people cannot?
There are options to answer this question well.
- Option 1: Attack this question, answering strongly by re-stating your relevant strengths, behaviour, experience and skills
- Option 2: Be quietly confident; highlight your relevant strengths, including behavioural and style as well as skills
“I don’t know the other applicants, so it would be wrong for me to dismiss their claims. However, I am sure my attributes fit the requirements of the role. Thiscombined with my determination and positive approach, ensure I am a good choice.”
If management progression is seen as a benefit, you must refer to your willingness to develop and take on greater responsibilities in the future
Tell me about yourself?
- Practice and rehearse your answer
- Have a description of yourself, and reasons why you behave that way
- State what you are like without being superfluous with adjectives. Don’t ramble on and tail off, make a few clear statements and finish
What makes you mad?
- Suggest that certain attributes disappoint you, specifically behaviours that your interviewer personally dislikes too
“Nothing really makes me mad – it’s not a good way to deal with issues. Certain things disappoint me such as rudeness and arrogance.”
What do you think of your last boss/employer?
- Don’t be critical – be generous with praise and explain your reasons
- If there was a conflict, describe it fairly and objectively without pointing blame
If you won a million on the lottery what would you do?
“I would probably save most of it and give a little away. I’d treat myself/my family to a nice holiday but nothing too excessive. I’d be able to handle winning a million as I’m sensible with money, but I want to work. If I was sure I could make it successful, I would possibly use the money to start my own business.”
Stress and Pressure Interview Questions
These are the questions that put you under pressure and create stress. The trick is to be confident, credible and constructive – ensure you accentuate the positivity in your answers. Overall, you need to make sure you prepare for these, as the questions come in all shapes and sizes. The most common are focused on weakness and failure, blame, and evidence of ability or experience.
“Weakness and Failure” Questions
Don’t be intimidated by these questions – you don’t have to state a failing or a weakness, just because the interviewer invites you to. “I don’t generally fail”, or “I really can’t think of any”, are perfectly acceptable answers.
Short and sweet answers with a smile while you wait for the reply demonstrates you are not an idiot, nor a pushover. You will probably be pressed for a justification to your answer, or if you wish to appear more self-effacing use the below as an example first response:
“I almost always succeed because I plan and manage accordingly. If something is not succeeding, I’ll change it until it is! I like to ensure the proper checks and contingencies are in place, allowing me to see when things aren’t running smoothly. This then means it is easy to make changes when, and if, they are necessary. I know there are certain things I am not so good at, but I do not consider them a weakness. Weakness to me, is a vulnerability and I don’t consider myself vulnerable. If there’s something I can’t do, or don’t know, I will find someone who can do it or does know.”
Do you see the positive orientation? Turn it around into a positive every time.
Watch out for the invitation to bad-mouth your past job or manager, especially in the form of: “Why did you leave your last job?”, or “Why have you had so many jobs?” By answering negatively, you will be seen as someone who blames others and fails to take responsibility for your own actions and decisions.
Employers want people who take responsibility, have initiative and come up with solutions, not problems. They do not want those who blame others. For this reason, always express your answers positively when given an opportunity to express the negative. Never blame anyone, or anything else.
“I was ready for a bigger challenge”
“Each job offered a better opportunity, which I took”
“I grow and learn quickly and I look for new opportunities”
“I wanted to get as many different experiences as quickly as possible, before looking for a serious career situation, which is why I’m here.”
A great technique for exploiting the “blame” trap is to praise your past managers and employers. Generosity is a positive trait, so demonstrate it. Keep your praise and observations credible, realistic and relevant: try to mention attributes that your interviewer and prospective new employer will identify and agree with.
“Prove it” Questions
These can be the toughest of the lot. Good interviewers will press you for evidence if you make a claim. So the trick is – be prepared.
Watch out for closed questions, inviting a “yes or no” answer in a specific area:
“Can you do so-and-so?”
“Have you any experience in such-and-such?”
If you answer “yes”, be prepared to deal with the come-back question “Can you give me an example?” The request for examples or evidence will stop you in your tracks if you didn’t prepare or can’t verify your answer.
Before your interview, understand the requirements of the job you’re being interviewed for. Ask to see the job description, including local parameters if applicable, and any other details that explain the extent and nature of the role. Think about how you can qualify each requirement with examples and evidence. Wherever possible, use evidence that’s quantified and relates to commercial or financial outputs. Companies are interested in people who understand the notion of maximising return on investment, or return on effort. If your examples and evidence stand up as good cost-effective practice, it will reflect well on you.
Ensure you have examples of relevant capabilities and required experience, especially for these “prove it” questions. You can take papers or evidence material with you – having hard evidence, and the fact that you’ve thought to prepare it, impresses interviewers.
If you don’t have the evidence, or personal coverage of a particular requirement, then don’t bluff it and say yes when you’d be better off saying, “No, however….” followed by your solution or suggestion. Give an example where previously you’ve taken on a responsibility without previous experience or full capability, and made a success of it, by virtue of using other people’s expertise, or fast-tracking your own development, knowledge or ability. Good preparation should include researching your employer’s business, their markets and their competitors. This will help you relate your own experience to theirs, and will show that you have bothered to do the research itself.
To summarise – pressure questions:
- Keep control.
- Take time to think for yourself.
- Don’t be intimidated or led anywhere you don’t want to go.
- Express every answer in positive terms.
- Do your preparation.
These interview questions require candidates to provide real life examples as the basis of their answers. Candidates should not talk in broad terms, be too general or use their imagination when replying to interviewers. Instead, candidates should use specific situations from their life as examples when answering this type of interview question. Candidates should explain why they made certain decisions, how they implemented these decisions and why certain outcomes took place.
Recruitment professionals believe that the best way to distinguish a candidate’s potential future performance is to find out about examples of past performance. However graduate candidates don’t usually have any experience of the industry to which they are applying and, consequently it is impossible for interviewers to discuss previous job roles. Instead, interviewers use competency questions to force candidates to reveal how they have performed in various situations in the past, revealing individual personality traits. These are a great help for interviewers interested in finding out exactly who a candidate is and how they may act if employed.
Interviewers usually isolate specific key competencies that they believe suitable employees should possess, and ask competency-based interview questions designed to force candidates to reveal their skills in these areas.
Examples of key competencies interviewers ask about are:
- Decision making
- Commitment to career
- Commercial Awareness
- Career Motivation.
How to Answer Competency Questions
“Tell me about a time when you failed to complete a task or project on time, despite intending to do so?”
In your response your interviewer will want to find out how you manage your time during difficult tasks and the reason why you failed to meet your deadline on this occasion, and consequently a reason why you may fail to meet deadlines in the future.
Interviewers using behaviour-based interviewing techniques, such as competency questions, are likely to probe for additional details during your responses. Always make sure you provide concise, highly specific answers that are well explained, thought out and detailed.
Although your interviewer will, at times, ask you to give examples of past failures rather than achievements, you must adequately justify why you failed to complete tasks, and defend the reasons for your failure. Clever candidates will justify failure by giving examples of positive personality traits.
Salary Negotiation at Interviews Tips
The best time to negotiate salary is after receiving a job offer, and importantly before you accept. This time is at the point when the employer clearly wants you for the job, and is keen to have your acceptance of the offer. Your bargaining power in real terms, and psychologically, is far stronger if you have, or can say that you have at least one other job offer or option. A strong stance at this stage is your best chance to provide the recruiting manager the justification to pay you something outside the employer’s normal scale.
If there’s a very big difference between what is being offered and what you want, say more than 20%, you should raise it as an issue during the interview for discussion later, rather than drop it as a bombshell suddenly when the job offer is made. Do not attempt to resolve a salary issue before receiving a job offer, there’s no point. Defer the matter. Say you’ll need to discuss salary in due course, but that there’s obviously no need to do so until and unless the company believes you are the right person for the job. “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it,” should be the approach.
The chances of renegotiating salary after accepting a new job, and certainly after starting a new job, are remote, once you accept the offer you’ve effectively made the contract.
A compromise agreement on salary, in the event that the employer cannot initially employ you at the rate you need, is to agree, in writing a guaranteed raise, subject to completing a given period of service, say 3 or 6 months. In this case, avoid the insertion of ‘satisfactory’ to describe the period of service as this can never actually be measured and therefore fails to provide certainty that the raise will be given.
If you are recruiting a person who needs, or demands, more money or better terms than you can offer, then deal with the matter properly before the candidate accepts the job – changing pay or terms after this is a lot harder. If you encourage a person to accept pay and terms that are genuinely lower than they deserve or need, by giving a vague assurance of a review sometime in the future, you will raise expectations for something that will be very difficult to deliver, therefore storing up a big problem for the future.
Second Interview Guidelines
Unsuitable applicants should have been screened out by this stage. For certain jobs an offer will be made after the second interviews; recruitments for senior positions may proceed to third interviews.
Second interview questions will be deep and probing about the candidate and the candidate’s approach to work. The questions will be detailed and contain testing examples and scenarios specific to the particular job, asking how the candidate would deal with them. This is to discover as reliably as possible, how the candidate would approach the job, and what type of person they are – the interviewer needs to be sure they will get on with the candidate and that they will fit in well.
Tests and practical exercises using actual work material or examples can be used, which enable a practical assessment of the candidate’s real style, ability, knowledge and experience.
The candidate can be asked to prepare and give a short presentation about themselves, or how they would approach the job or a particular challenge. This could involve the use of certain equipment and materials, particularly if such ability is to be required in the job.
A good second interview should establish as reliably as possible the candidates suitability and ability for the specific needs of the job, which includes the work, relationships, aspirations, and personal background.
There is nothing wrong in the candidate asking the organisation prior to the interview what to plan and prepare for in the second interview – interviewers should regard this as a positive sign, and it may help the candidate to give some clear information on what to expect and prepare for.
Certain senior job recruitments will involve a lunch or dinner so that the interviewer and other senior managers or executives can see you in relaxed mode. This is an excellent way to discover more about the personality of an applicant.
Group selection, normally a half-day or even whole day is a very good alternative to conventional one-to-one interviews after first interview stage. Group selection puts all the candidates together for a series of activities and tasks, which can then be observed by a panel of interviewers. Individuals can be asked to prepare and give presentations, and various other exercises relevant to the job. One-to-one interviews follow later in the day when the group has been reduced in numbers. Group selection takes a lot longer than a conventional second interview and all candidates should be notified as to the process and outline agenda.
Your Follow-Up Letter or Email
If you are particularly keen to be offered a job and wish to increase your profile and chances of receiving a job offer after attending interview, you can follow up an interview with a letter or email, and then a phone call to reinforce your commitment and qualifications for the job. The sooner you do this after an interview, the better.
Often jobs are offered to the most passionate and determined applicants, so this should be the feeling that your follow-up should try to convey, without giving the impression of desperation or crawling.
You should seek to focus your follow-up letter or email on the key performance aspects in the role that the interviewer believes are required for the successful applicant.
This type of follow-up enables you to show that you have considered and developed your thinking after the interview, a desirable attribute, and also enables you to re-emphasise your claim to the opportunity, bringing your name to the front of the interviewer’s mind again. A good follow-up letter or email also enables you to demonstrate that you are persistent, professional, interested, possess relevant capabilities, recognise what the requirements and priorities are, are keen, and can sell yourself in a determined manner, that probably the other applicants will not do.
Interviewers also respond well to applicants who really like the company, especially if your reasons coincide with the reasons that the interviewer likes the company too, so it can help if your follow-up resonates with the feelings of the interviewer about what is required for the role.
Sample Follow-Up Letter From Interviewee After Interview
Use and adapt this template example to create your own interview follow-up letter or email.
You interviewed me on [date], for the, role of [position]. I really want this job, so I’m taking this opportunity to re-state why I think you should choose me:
List 3-5 short points that relate to your skills, knowledge, experience, achievements, character, attitude, to the results and effects they’ll be seeking from the person appointed. It is very important that these points demonstrate that you have clearly understood and can deliver.
You need someone who can produce new profitable business – a minimum, stated target level a year. My track record proves I can do this. I know already how I will do this for you. Moreover I’ll help others around me to do it too.
You need someone who is very adaptable. Again my recent career history shows how I’m able to adapt to fast-changing situations – to identify and achieve new aims quickly. Put me anywhere – I’ll adapt and create a new plan, and achieve it.
You need someone who can hit the ground running – I can do this – I have commitments from personal customers who have promised me business equating to [amount], by [when], should I take on this new role.
You might have seen better qualified applicants, or people with more relevant experience, but when it comes down to it, it’s the person with the most passion and determination who is able to make a real difference. I urge you to give me the chance to prove I am that person.
You could also follow up the letter/email with a phone call to ask what the interviewer thinks, and if there’s anything else that you can do or provide to help the interviewer decide.
Persistence often pays off, especially in roles that require someone who can get results by making things happen, which applies to most roles in business and organisations these days, and certainly all management roles.
When you follow-up your own job interview with passion, determination and expertise, the interviewer sees real evidence of how you can perform in the job itself.
The interview follow-up letter, email and phone call is therefore a great opportunity for you to demonstrate many of your attributes for real, in a way that will raise your profile, re-state your credentials and understanding of the role’s requirements, and thereby create a clear separation between you and the other job candidates.
References and Checking References
As an interviewee it’s good to prepare your references in advance, and give the interviewer a list of your referees with names, positions, employers details, and all possible contact details. Try to identify, and agree cooperation in advance from referees who will be happy to give you a positive reference, and in so doing, who will support your personality, skills, performance and job history claims. Provide as many referees as you need to cover the important aspects of your performance and employment history, plus any specific critical requirements of the new job, accreditation, record, training, vetting, etc. A healthy list of referees would normally be between three and five people. It seems a lot, but it’s more impressive than just a couple; it shows you’ve thought about it beforehand, and it builds in a bit of leeway for when people cannot be contacted or fail to respond quickly for any reason.
Generally, the more senior and credible your referees the better. It’s perfectly acceptable to list one or two referees from your private life rather than work, especially if they have a job or status that carries important responsibility, councillors, police, etc
If you know that a particularly significant and favourable referee might be difficult to contact, ask them to provide you with a ‘to whom it may concern’ open reference letter as to your character and history, signed by them, on letterhead – and preferably use and keep hold of the original copy – ask the interviewer to take a photocopy and give you back the original.