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Success at interview is about preparation

Preparing for a job interview can make the difference between success and failure. Interviews may vary and do not always follow a set pattern, but many years of experience and client feedback indicates that your chances will be greatly enhanced if you are the person who is best prepared. And that doesn’t mean spending hours and hours on preparation – it means being strategic about it.

The following six steps have helped many people land the job of their dreams.

Step 1: Basic checklist before attending

Basic interview organisation is a prerequisite. Many interviewees start the wrong way – flustered, nervous, and stressed.

Getting to the interview on time and even a little early is very important. Being late to an interview immediately creates a negative impression meaning that you need to work extra hard to counteract this in the interview. Simple preparation should include:

  1. Do you have the address, map, route, parking, or relevant train times?
  2. Details on the job, position, and pronunciation of the person(s) you are meeting?
  3. Re-read your CV.
  4. Understand the appropriate dress for the meeting.
  5. Likely interview structure – Technical test, Competency based interview, Whiteboard approach, multiple separate interviews etc.

Step 2: Prepare to answer 8 common interview questions

Interview questions are often not that original. You will almost always be asked some version of these eight questions. So instead of spreading yourself thin by preparing answers to every possible question, perfect and memorise your answers to these eight.

  1. What have been your greatest achievements? Give examples
  2. Why do you want to (or why did you leave) your current employer?
  3. What interests you in the role and potentially working for us?
  4. Give me an example of when you overcame an obstacle/technical issue?
  5. What does teamwork mean to you or how have you improved team calibration?
  6. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  7. What skills can you bring to this role?
  8. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult character?

Start by writing all your answers down without worrying about wording or length. Then start rehearsing them and refine them as you go, focusing on one answer at a time.

One particularly useful and popular approach to develop answers to interview questions is the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) model. The STAR model helps to frame a response encouraging examples of past behaviour. e.g. Situation, Task, Action – What was achieved and how was it performed? Result – What was concluded and how was it enacted. Think about how you could make your answers more concise. Then edit the written versions. The best answers tell a story that gets the message across in the fewest possible words (within reason!).

Step 3: Research the company

When you start your interview, you ideally want to know basic facts about the company:

  1. What are the company’s products, services, business model, number of employees, etc.
  2. What the company culture is like
  3. Are their financials readily available – strategy, profitability and earnings, etc?
  4. What challenges they are facing and how they’re planning to handle them?
  5. What new initiatives are coming up?

If the company is public, it will be required to share a financial statement. You should also go to Google Alerts and/or Seeking Alpha website and subscribe to alerts on the company.

For private companies (these methods work for public companies too), go through their social media, especially LinkedIn (such as Redline LinkedIn page), Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Get a sense of the company’s personality – are they serious or playful in their interactions with other users? What are they excited about? Look at employees’ social media too and see what personality they project. Use this to get a sense of how you should present yourself and what you can start a conversation about.

Watch or listen to interviews with senior employees and try reaching out to former employees too (preferably those who’ve gone up in the world, as they’re less likely to have a negative bias). LinkedIn allows you to search by Past Companies to find these contacts.

Step 4: Anticipate extra questions

Once you’ve got your core questions sorted, it’s time to think about questions specific to the company or role. You should always ask questions at the end of an interview. This should include:

  1. What is the next stage of the selection process?
  2. Do you have any concerns about your skills and how they match the position?
  3. How and when will a decision be made and by whom?

You could also try Glassdoor, searching for the company profile page, and selecting the “Interviews” tab. Enter the role and location, and you’ll be able to read other candidates’ interview experiences and get a sense of what you’re likely to be asked.

Step 5: Research the interviewers

If your recruiter doesn’t tell you who your interviewers will be, ask. Then Google them and find out who they are and what they enjoy. Look at their LinkedIn and other social media profiles too. Getting them to talk about something they enjoy is a great way to build rapport at an interview and make them want you to succeed.

Step 6: Send a note to thank everyone involved in the process

Follow up the interview with a thank you email/letter. This shows your strong interest in the company, your sincerity, and your attention to detail. Only 1 in 10 jobseekers bother to send a thank you note, so doing so could be the only difference between you and other good candidates.

Redline can help you prepare for the interview process. This preparation often separates top performers from everyone else in engineering and technical job roles and can assist in highlighting the competencies you possess and use to achieve great results.

We’ve achieved 4.8 Stars out of 5.0 ratings on Google Reviews and hundreds of Case Studies confirm it’s not only WHAT we do, but HOW we do it that clients and candidates really appreciate.

Redline Group’s mission is to enable high-technology companies to build world-class teams through knowledge-led recruitment. For more information, contact David Collins at Redline Group on 01582 450054 or email


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