Interview Advice

The key to a good interview is preparation.


Your current position:

Don't run down either your current position or employers, however fed up you are. You won't come across as being a loyal employee or a positive thinker. It also won't be in the new employer's interest to hire you if you are a threat to the work environment and attitudes of the other staff members. However, you must be prepared to be honest about why you wish to leave your current position.

Talking about yourself:

Be prepared to talk about yourself and your background without sounding like a 'know-it-all'. Lots of people really don't like talking about themselves and others like it too much. Try to be informative and helpful, giving enough information for the interviewer to get to know you a bit, but without boring them. If necessary, think through what you might say about yourself if they ask beforehand and be prepared because it often comes up.

More General Tips

Although an interview is often thought of as a gruelling experience, in reality it shouldn't be. Below are a few pointers to help make the experience what it should be - a two way process of candidate and client finding out more about each other.

You must make sure that you are there on time (call if you are going to be late), that you are briefed on the company (look at their website), the position and any other necessary information particularly applicable to the role. It is important to get these things right and go into the interview thinking that you would like the challenge of the position on offer. You want to come across as being assertive, confident and keen hence the more you know, the easier it will be.

Positive mental attitude.......


Be positive. The company wants to see you because you have something they are interested in.

Relax. Easier said than done, but it is essential you relax and control any negative thoughts during the interview. The interviewer will hopefully put you at ease with social chat and break down a few barriers. Remember - they want to get the best out of you, a true indication of who you are and what you can offer.

Plan, prepare and research. We are afraid of what we don't know or what we can't control. Dispel some of these fears by learning as much as you can about the company, the culture, and just as importantly - the job. Your Taylor-Phillips consultant will be able to provide most of the information you will require, however the internet is also an excellent source of information.

Plan your route. Use to find the exact location. Allow enough time for transport delays and call London Travel Information on – 020 7222 1234 for the latest update. Aim to get to the interview ten minutes beforehand to give you chance to relax and compose yourself.

Read the job description and person specification (if there is one) thoroughly. Sit with your CV, a professional notepad (not scruffy) and the job details in front of you and bullet point ALL the skills you have which match the requirements. Take these notes with you to the interview and keep them in view to make sure you keep focused on your skills and what you can offer the company.

Make a note of any questions you want to ask, and take these to the interview (notes on questions further down). Don't be afraid to use them or have them in view along with company literature.

Your appearance: What you see....

Presentation is important at an interview, as most people these days will have made a snap judgement about you by the time you sit down. Make sure that your clothes are smart and professional even if the company has a dress down policy.  Unfortunately in this day and age, image is everything.


Dress to impress. Always, always, always wear a smart, corporate suit in a dark colour - unless you have been advised otherwise. 

  • Ladies' skirts should not be too far above the knee. 
  • Shirts and blouses should be pressed. 
  • Blouses for ladies are preferable, but collarless tops are fine, so long as they are plain and without fashion logos. 
  • Men should wear a white or blue shirt with an appropriate tie.
  • If wearing a skirt, ladies must always wear stockings or tights of a suitable and complimentary colour.
  • Shoes need to be clean, unscuffed and well polished. Ladies should wear court shoes or smart boots/shoes under trouser suits.
  • Hair should be clean and tidy. If men have long hair, then smooth it and tie it back in a neat ponytail with an appropriate band. Keep hair accessories to a minimum and keep them simple and professional.
  • Nails should be clean, manicured and of a professional length. Keep nail polish simple, of one colour and not too dramatic. No nail polish is far better than chipped nail polish. Me ns nails should be short.
  • Make up should be professional and fresh. Stick to neutral colours, and don't be too heavy on the eyeliner or lip-gloss.
  • Men should be clean-shaven or have a tidy, trimmed beard or moustache. Stubble is inappropriate and unprofessional.
  • If you have visible piercing's - nose, eyebrow or tongue, take them out. The interviewer may find them distracting and concentrate on these, not on you and your skills.
  • Earrings should be kept small, discreet and professional.
  • Fashion makes many victims. Take a step back in the mirror and ask yourself "Am I dressed for the office, or for a night out?" Less is always more.
  • Are you comfortable? The most expensive outfit will look cheap and shabby if too tight, ill fitting or dirty.

The inquisition....

You are on show from the moment you step through the door into reception. Also remember that most receptionists are recruited as the first impression a visitor has of the company, so use this as a reflection of your potential work colleagues.


Smile and walk confidently to the reception desk. Introduce yourself and state you have an appointment with 'name'. You may be asked to take a seat and wait. It always makes a good impression if you are seen to be reading company information made available in reception - and it may help you focus.

When met by the interviewer or whoever is taking you to meet the interviewer, stand, go forward to meet them, smile and shake their hand firmly but not tightly. It is OK to enter into polite conversation as you walk along to the interview room, but be careful not to be too informal.

Body language. Wait to be asked to sit, sit comfortably, but do not slouch. Do not fidget, twiddle your thumbs or play with your pen. This shows you are nervous. Instead, maintain a good level of eye contact and show interest in what the interviewer is saying. Keep your jacket on.

Think before you speak. Listen. Take time to construct your answers so that you don't waffle. This is where your research and preparation benefits you the most. If you have already anticipated the question, you should be more confident giving an appropriate answer. If you don't understand the question, ask the interviewer to clarify. This is far better than going off at a tangent and giving a completely inappropriate answer.

Positive statements. Never say negative things about previous employers - it is highly unprofessional and reflects very badly on you. Instead, be positive about your future and how you can benefit the company. Show your motivation and willingness to learn and be a part of the team. You can be assertive without being aggressive or arrogant.

Question time. During the interview, you will be asked to demonstrate your suitability for the job. Don't waffle, and give appropriate, relevant answers. Why have they asked you this particular question? What are they trying to find out?

Below are some of the more commonly asked questions, and some simple suggested responses?

Q: Tell me about yourself
A: They want you to open up to them. Tell them about your qualifications, career history and range of skills. You may even want to tell them a little about your hobbies and interests - it shows what motivates you. They do not want to know what you did when you were five years old, or how you didn't get on with your brother/sister.

Q: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
A: This doesn't have to be work related. The interviewer is trying to find out if you are an achiever. Demonstrate how you achieved and how it has benefited you. Do you still use those skills?

Q: What are your strengths?
A: We all have them, it's just acknowledging them in a proficient manner. Try to look at personal attributes such as 'I'm a team player', or 'I have great attention to detail', then demonstrate how they could be a benefit to an employer.

Q: What are your weaknesses?
A: The interviewer wants to see how self-aware you are. Don't use personal weaknesses such as 'I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning'. A weakness can also be considered a strength. Use a professional weakness such as lack of experience (training can always overcome that) or one that can be turned around into a strength such as 'I'm very focused at work, so sometimes people think I'm ignoring them'.

Q: How would your family/friends/spouse describe you?
A: Another way of asking how you perceive yourself. Choose three or four adjectives that show the positive side of your personality, such as 'they would say I'm outgoing, reliable and loyal'.

Q: Why do you think you're suitable for this role?
A: If you haven't done your research, you'll not be able to give an answer with substance. Use your prepared list and match your skills and personal attributes. By this stage, the interviewer should have told you about the role. If they haven't, ask them to explain it fully, then give them your answer. You cannot tell them you're the perfect candidate if you don't know what the job is.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
A: Do not be tempted to respond in an arrogant manner - i.e 'in your chair'. The interviewer wants to know your motivation and career aspirations. Whilst wanting to progress is a natural desire, don't let this overshadow the job you are being interviewed for. Try not to give a specific job title, but more what you will be gaining from a role and environment. Such as 'I see myself in a role that allows me to be autonomous, and one that is both challenging and rewarding whereby I can utilise my skills and knowledge fully. Whatever the role, I want to be successful.'

The interview is a two way process. You will have a chance to ask questions, but make sure they are relevant to the role and company. You cannot be expected to accept or decline an offer if you don't have sufficient knowledge.

Do not get involved in discussing money at this stage - unless the interviewer asks you.

Remember that the questions you ask tell the interviewer more about you than some of the answers you give. Try to phrase them in a positive manner such as 'Are you quite a social company, does the team go out together?' What you are really saying is, 'I'm a team player and sociable'.


Once the interview has concluded, thank the interviewer for their time and express an interest in the role and the company. Ask them if they have any reservations and what they are. This may be your last opportunity to overcome them. If they have any doubts about your enthusiasm, they will concentrate on the negative aspects of your interview and think of why they shouldn't employ you. This is human nature.

Close with a firm handshake and smile and leave with poise. You are still on show until you leave the building and are out of sight, so don't enter into a loud conversation on your mobile phone in reception, or light a cigarette in view of the office.

Simple Do's and Don'ts

  • Be clean, smart and professional in appearance.
  • Don't smoke before your interview - you will bring the smell with you on your clothes and breath.
  • Don't drink alcohol, eat garlic or strong foods the night before or just before your interview.
  • Take a hairbrush or make-up with you to touch up your appearance before your interview. This is why it is a good idea to get there early.
  • Check the weather report - no one wants to sit through an interview soaking wet.
  • Do switch off your mobile phone. If you do forget and it rings during the interview, ignore it and apologise to the interviewer.
  • Do not chew gum during your interview - dispose of it before entering the building.
  • Do not smoke - even if asked by the interviewer.
  • Don't fidget. It's annoying and distracting and bet ray s your nerves.
  • Don't swear or tell rude or smutty jokes. What you say could be offensive.
  • Do learn from the experience. We all make mistakes; use them to your advantage for the next interview.

Interviews with Taylor-Phillips

We encourage candidates to come to our offices for an interview, this achieves two things.

  • We can discuss how to develop your career face to face, covering what current positions we have and what type of job you would prefer.
  • Taylor Phillips get a feel for your abilities as a communicator and your achievements , this helps us place you in to the positions you are looking for.
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