Interview Tips


First hurdle

With the economy feeling the pinch, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive.

As a consequence, career counsellors are warning people to be resilient and to persevere.


• 1. Keep it short – a ten page life history will probably head straight for the bin.

• 2. Headlines only. The CV is a marketing document. Use it to promote the highlights of your career.

• 3. Keep it simple. Resist the temptation to use jargon – the recruiter may not understand them.

• 4. Do not make spelling mistakes. If your spelling is questionable use a spellchecker or get a friend to read it through.

• 5. Pay attention to layout – make it eye-catching by good use of headings and borders.

• 6. Put the most important information first. Leave all the boring stuff like your contact details to the end.

• 7. Don’t tell lies. Employers are wising up to the fact that some people add on the odd qualification and are more likely to check.

• 8. Market yourself positively. Demonstrate your skills with short examples of your achievements.

• 9. Put a short statement up front of no more than one paragraph describing in as few words as possible your most marketable skills and abilities.

• 10. Accompany it with a tailored letter saying why you think your skills and abilities match the job for which you are applying.


The interview

Few people enjoy undergoing interviews, with the most fear reserved for classic questions such as “What are your weaknesses or your greatest achievement?”.

While you should prepare yourself for questions like these, the good news is that they are becoming rarer.

Experts say questions are increasingly focused on your experience – and whether you will ‘fit’ in with the organisation’s culture.

So it is essential to do your homework about the company: its role, future direction and working environment.

Maintain eye contact, make positive answers from negative questions and be forthcoming with information.

But the interview is not just about the content of your answers.

First impression

Some people say that the interview is over within minutes of you walking through the door. So what should you wear?

Wearing the right clothes to an interview will improve your chances greatly.

Caroline Baxter, fashion editor of Cosmopolitan says: “You can make up for other areas by presenting yourself to be a clean cut, dependable person.”

“You still have to be smart even if you are going for an interview in a record shop – you must respect the interview situation. There are unwritten rules and you must abide by them.”

Caroline’s tips:

  • Stay comfortable. Don’t change your whole image for the interview – you will feel twitchy and uncomfortable.
    • Wear light clothing. Most offices are quite warm and you will want to feel cool, refreshed and comfortable.
    • Make the most of your best features.
    • Dress to impress – do some research about what the company’s employees wear.
    • If you are going for a creative job, you can wear more colour, but you still have to be smart.

Caroline’s tips for women:

    • Don’t wear too short skirts – make sure that when you are sitting down it comes down well to the knee.
    • Never have bare legs – wear 5 or 10 denier tights or stockings.
    • Trouser suits are absolutely fine for an interview.
    • Steer clear of brown – it is not a positive colour.

Caroline’s tips for men:

    • You must wear a suit.
    • Exert your personality by picking an interesting shirt colour and tie, but keep to cool tones.
    • Avoid shiny grey suits – anything that reflects will distract.
    • Steer clear of big, clumpy belts.
    • Ankle boots or a shoe such as laced brogue are best.


You may hate working at your company so much, that you can’t wait to tell someone that you have got another job.

While a verbal remark may not be enough to get you sacked, you should only resign until you are certain that you have got the job – and in writing.

Ian Hunter, an employment lawyer and author of the Which? guide to employment, says: “Don’t resign if you have any worries such as not passing the medical or getting satisfactory references, even if you have signed the contract.”

Other considerations

If you have a package of company benefits in your current job, what happens to them when you leave?

    • Your pension

Look at the terms of your pension, but broadly speaking the move will result in you plan being “frozen”.

You can either leave it where it is to grow and then draw from it at a specified retirement age, or it can be transferred into another pension plan.

    • Company car

Chas Roy-Chowdhury of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) says: “The general rule is that you are allowed to continue using your car over a notice period even if in lieu of notice. You will be taxed on it as a benefit in the normal way.

If the car is given to you when you leave as a part of your severance package and it was negotiated while you were still employed, it would be treated as though the market value of the car were given to you in cash and subject to Pay as you earn (PAYE).