Interview Preparation: The Structure of the Job Interview

Interview Preparation: The Structure of the Job Interview



The myth that job interviewers are evil, that employers are always trying to catch you out just isn’t true. From the employers perspective the job interview is the final assessment to see if you will be a good fit with the businesses.

The employer has spent a large amount of money and used various resources to advertise the job. They have read the CVs, application forms, linked-in profile and watched the video CVs. From this they have picked a number of candidates that they are interested in and checked your social media and online presences to see how you act out of work. In many cases they have sent you a pre-interview task to complete and narrowed down over 300 original applicants to around 6 interviewees.

The employer is interested in all 6 candidates and will use the interview to find out more about your past duties, work ethic, skills and experiences before offering the lucky interviewee a contract of employment.

The interview is set out into 3 stages and by knowing how to act in each stage will give you an advantage during the interview process.


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Stage 1 The Welcome

The interviewer knows that most candidates are nervous, which is why they ask questions like “tell me about yourself.” These opening questions are designed to get you talking and to help you relax.

To answer this question, first give an overview “I have over X years experience in Y…” and then highlight 3 key achievements and skills “My 3 key achievements are…” and then end with the reason you are applying for this role.

Prior to this, the interviewer will often start by discussing the business, why they are hiring and where they see the company progressing to over the next few years. Remember the interviewer likes you, they have checked your experience and qualifications and they feel you and the other 5 applicants have what it takes – they want you, which is why the interviewer often starts by selling the company to you.

Use this initial opener to ask more questions about the business. Hopefully through pre-interview research you already know about plans for expansion. Knowing that the interviewer will discuss their business and future plans, prepare questions to ask them. The advantage to this is twofold; first by asking questions your confidence will grow, rather then having to answer a verbally long question at the interview start. Second this shows interest, highlights your sector knowledge and builds rapport – people like it when they are asked questions as it shows interest and likability.


Stage 2 – The Fit


You will be questioned on your experience and skills, which means you need to prepare answers that highlight your experience relevant to the job specification. Use stories and quotes figures throughout your interview as this allows the interviewer to see the value of employing you.

Your experience alone is never enough. Throughout the body of the job interview you need to ensure your work ethic and attitude is highlighted. Relate your answers to key aspects of your personality by discussing how you went above and beyond, how you worked late to meet the deadline for a project that was dropped on you last minute. Discuss how you turn around an underperforming team by implementing X procedure. You need to detail all these little aspects of your personality that makes you a great employee. Remember everyone being interviewed will have similar experience and qualifications; you need to use your attitude towards work and the industry to stand out.

Interview questions and answers


Step 3 – The Close


At the interview end, you will be given the chance to ask the interviewer additional questions. (you already questioned the interviewer at the interview start) Use this last section as another chance to sell yourself.

Most interviewees ask 3 simple questions, as this is what we are taught before getting out of the room as fast as we can.  Rather then this prepare your interview questions so you can respond to the interviewers answer by referencing  key selling point.

As an example “you talked about entering a new niche, what problems do you envisage along the way?” The interviewer will reply with a general answer, which is where you add your key selling point “When I lead the X project that we discussed a minute ago, we came across the same problem. What I did to solve it was…..”

Set the interviewer up so you can add a new selling point (I’m also good at this) or to highlight you of the key points discussed throughout the job interview.

Interview Preparation Resources


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