Key Steps to Preparing for a Successful Interview

Date: Tuesday December 17, 2019 at 3:08pm

A polished CV & Cover Letter are key tools in securing that next position, but ultimately it’s the interview which will make or break the deal.

Whilst your CV may tell employers if you meet the criteria set out in the job description, the interview should give them the answers they want to the following 3 questions:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Will you fit into the team/company?

 ‘By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail’ Benjamin Franklin

The importance of this initial step should never be underestimated. The more you’ve prepared, the more confident you’ll feel on the day and the better you will perform.

Preparation + Confidence = Performance

It may seem a daunting prospect, but creating an interview prep checklist will help you to get ready for the big day.

  • Carefully examine the job description

It may give you ideas about questions the employer may ask

  • Consider why you want the job and why you’re qualified

You should be able to explain your interest in the role and why you’d be the ideal candidate

  • Research the company, its culture, products and services

It may help you to formulate questions about the workplace environment and shape your interview conversation

  • Structure your answers to common interview questions

You may not be able to predict each question, but you could prepare your elevator pitch and the answers to some common questions

  • Practice your speaking and body language

Make a positive, lasting impression throughout the interview process by practicing a confident strong speaking voice and friendly, open body language. Pay attention to your smile, handshake and stride.

  • Prepare several thoughtful questions for the interviewer

Show that you’ve researched the company and job well. Employers generally feel confident about candidates who ask relevant, thoughtful questions about the company, job and perhaps the next steps in the hiring process.

  • Carry out some mock interviews

Just like public speaking, practicing interviews is the best way to relieve anxiety and improve your confidence. Practice may be tedious, but repeatedly experiencing the interview process will make you more comfortable and help you give the right impression. Practice your questions and answers out loud. This gives you an opportunity to refine your answers and commit them to memory. The more you practice, the more confident you'll be during the real thing.

  • Print some hard copies of your CV

Most employers ask for digital copies of your CV these days, so having a few hard copies to present to multiple interviews shows that you are organised and have prepared well.  When preparing for the interview, read your CV through thoroughly and be ready to explain any gaps, bullet points and achievements. Be honest and diplomatic when answering any awkward questions and stay positive.

  • Prepare your travel arrangements well in advance

Getting to an interview can be a challenge in itself. To avoid becoming anxious, leave early or do a trial run beforehand, save the interview contact details in your ‘phone or in your notebook, just in case there’s an unavoidable delay, and check out parking near the venue.

  • Sell yourself

You wouldn’t have been called to interview if the employer didn’t think you could do the job, but one of the biggest challenges most people face at interview is selling themselves. However, if you have prepared well and present yourself accurately and positively, it doesn’t have to feel like a sale. Concentrate on your professional skills, experience, qualifications and achievements which will help to set you apart from other candidates. The employer wants to know that you’ll be the right fit and that you can a value to the company, so they need to know all the reasons you can provide to back that up.

  • Follow up after the interview

This is an essential step, as it shows the employer that you are genuinely interested in the position and gives you the chance to bring up any points you may have forgotten to mention.

Learning how to communicate your military experience in civilian terms and perform well at interviews takes practice. Just as top sports people have coaches to help them achieve their potential, top candidates have interview coaches to help them prepare, structure their answers and conduct mock interviews. Interview coaching could give you that competitive edge, build your confidence and help you to stand out from the crowd.

Our professional interview coaches all have commercial experience which they’ve used to help service leavers and veterans build their confidence and optimise their performance at interview. For best results, we tailor all sessions to your unique requirements with single or multiple coaching sessions, mock interviews and feedback. To find out more call 07715 302312 or email

Sian Richardson is the founder and senior consultant at FORCES CV & CAREER SERVICES which provides full transition support to veterans and members of the Armed Forces, Police and Emergency Services. For more information go to 


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