• Alex Horton
  • Thursday, September 8, 2016
Blog Image - HCM's guide to interview techniques


1. Preparation

Confirm the correct date and time, the exact location, how you are going to get there and how long it will take.

Know the interviewer’s name (and pronunciation) and title - ask your HCM consultant for background information about the interviewer’s background, personality, profile etc.

Research the company via their website and an internet search on relevant news items and staff profiles.

Top Tip: Don’t assume you know everything about a company by reading its website. Listen to the interviewer describe the organisation.

2. Dress code & conduct

Dress professionally, in a smart business suit with a clean ironed shirt & tie or blouse and dark shoes. Do not wear casual clothes, even if that is the company dress code, unless specifically instructed by your recruitment consultant.

Pay attention to personal hygiene.

Turn off any mobile devices.

3. Review your resume and position description

Review your resume thoroughly to ensure you can answer questions on the details you have supplied, and prepare specific examples to validate the skills and experience you have outlined.

Review the position description and prepare specific examples of how your experience matches the position description.

Be able to describe your current or previous role and employer in detail.

Top Tip: Position descriptions are often re-used within organisations, and may not always match every detail of the role you are interviewing for. Make sure you listen to the role being described by the interviewer, and ask questions if you are unsure of their requirements.

4. First impressions

Arrive a few minutes early, but not too early. Arriving late is inexcusable – if you think you might be late, have an excellent reason and phone your recruitment consultant to ask them to inform the interviewer.

Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, whether involved in the interview or not – you may be assessed on your team fit from the moment you walk through the front door.

Be aware of your body language – shake hands firmly, wait to be offered a chair, sit upright, look alert and interested, be friendly, and maintain eye contact.

Let the interviewer set the tone of the interview.

5. Selling yourself

Describe your achievements and how they might apply to the prospective role in a clear and concise manner

Give actual, real-life examples of how and where you have used the relevant skills

Always aim to win – don’t close the door on an opportunity in an interview because you think it might not be right. It is much better to be offered a role and turn it down, than not being given the opportunity at all. You may find the opportunity can be re-aligned with your preferences.

Top Tip: It’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance – make sure you’re on the right side.

6. Questions to ask the interviewer

Prepare relevant, intelligent questions to ascertain whether the role and organisation is a match for your career aspirations and personal circumstances.


 - Why has this position become available?

 - Where does the position fit within the corporate structure?

 - What is the size of the team?

 - What is the culture like?

 - What do you enjoy about working here?

Ask any relevant questions about technical platforms or project pipelines

Try not to ask too many direct questions about flexibility, holidays, bonuses or work-life balance as they may ring warning bells about your level of commitment and availability for the role. 

Top Tip: Do not ask a question you pre-prepared if the answer has already come up during the natural course of discussion in the interview. It will look like you don’t listen.

7. Being interviewed

Competency Based Interviewing, or Behavioural Interviewing, is common in many organisations. The interviewer assesses your core competencies in relation to the role e.g. knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics.

Technical Testing – check if there will be a technical test as part of the interview. If there is, do as much research as possible on the possible content of the test and brush up on any areas of your technical skill-set that may be a little rusty.

Don’t worry if you feel the interview is not going well. Interviewers often ask awkward or difficult questions to see how you perform under pressure. Try to remain calm, composed and be positive.

Examples of Competency Based Interview Questions:

 - Give us an example of when you had to work to an important deadline.

 - Have you ever missed a deadline? What happened? What did you do to resolve it?

 - Give an example of when you had to support other team members.

 - Have you ever had difficulty working within a team? How did you rectify it?

 - How open-minded are you to other team members’ ideas?

 - Can you give us a recent example of when you’ve experienced a serious setback?

 - Give an example of risk that you had to take. Why did you decide to take the risk?

 - Give an example of an effective or innovative solution you created to solve a problem.

 - How do maintain/initiate a good relationship with clients?

 - How do you balance between the company interest and the interest of customers?

 - Give an example of a situation when you had to turn down a customer request.

Examples of Traditional Interview Questions:

 - How do you balance between the company interest and the interest of customers?

 - Give an example of a situation when you had to turn down a customer request.

 - What do you know about our company?

 - What interested you about the role?

 - Which job did you enjoy the most?

 - What are your strengths / weaknesses?

 - Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

 - What style of management do you respond best to?

 - What do you like to do outside of work (hobbies)?

Top Tip: Liaise with your recruitment consultant beforehand about the more political questions you might face e.g. saying you see yourself in the interviewer’s position in 5 years time could be the right or very wrong answer.

8. Finishing the interview

Follow the interviewer’s lead with regard to wrapping up the interview.

Don’t feel like you can’t ask the interviewer about any reservations about your experience – this gives you the chance to address or correct any misconceptions they might have.

Or, you could ask if there were any areas of your experience you could elaborate on.

Avoid discussions on salary or rates.

9. After the interview

Contact your recruitment consultant as soon as possible to provide feedback (positive or negative).

If unsuccessful, ask your recruitment consultant to get you some honest feedback to ensure that you improve your interviewing technique for next time.

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