How should you prepare for and behave during an interview?


Sliding in neatly after my article on Writing A Great CV/Profile/Resume and before How To Be A Successful Interim CTO, we need to address the interview part of the recruitment process. I guess it is also the other side of the coin of How To Interview A Developer.


Some of this may look a bit err…obvious…but I’m quite often surprised by how many candidates fail to do some or all of the things mentioned in this article so everything is included for completeness.


Preparing For A Telephone ¦ Video Interview


Make Sure You Know When ¦ How

Make sure you know when ¦ how the interview will take place. If you don’t receive a calendar invitation to the interview respectfully ask for one.


Ask whether you should be using the Hangouts ¦ Zoom link in the invitation or the phone number.

Ask Who ¦ How You Will Be Interviewed

Find out who will be interviewing you. Will it be one or more people? Mentally prepare for the format of the process.

Do your research on each and every person who will be interviewing you.

Make sure you type each person’s name into a search engine and look at their background on LinkedIn or wherever they are featured.

Watch/listen to any video/audio in which they are featured. Make notes on them.

You will be able to pick up a huge amount of useful information from doing this.

  • What is their style?

  • Are they more or less formal?

  • Do they bring their personality to work situations?

  • What is their dress style?


Automated Video “Screening” Interviews

Systems like sonru within which all candidates answer the same set of questions whilst being recorded on video are becoming increasingly popular.


If you have never been through this process as a candidate you need to keep in mind that it presents a surprisingly difficult candidate experience. Appearing natural, relaxed and confident whilst talking to a computer rather than another human being is actually quite difficult.


One of‘s clients used this approach but had to re-baseline the outputs from the process because only 5-10% of the candidates successfully navigated the video screen compared with nearer 50% of people who presented well in telephone or face-to-face interviews.


It’s difficult to prepare for a video screen interview (which is one of its advantages I guess) other than try to relax as much as possible and take any opportunities to re-do answers. They are normally better second time around.


The Face-to-Face Interview


Before The Interview


Arrive at the venue an hour early and wait in the nearest coffee shop. Use the time to review your notes and practice remembering the names of the people who will be interviewing you. Arrive physically at the interview venue 10-15 minutes before the allotted start time.

Mirror the prevailing dress code at the office (which you would know from your research). If you can’t find out what the dress code is ring up the interviewer and ask them. It’s a positive that you are taking the time to ask and prepare properly.

During the Interview

Bear in mind that when you are being interviewed the interviewer might have various aims;

Validate your credentials.

Get a feel for your attitude and aptitude.

Check that you would “fit in”…in other words check that you would be happy ¦ productive within the interviewer’s team ¦ company.


At we interview against the three dimensions below – Ability and Intellect, Working in a Team, Impact Focus but other interviewers might have different priorities. interview


During The Interview

There is a school of thought along the lines that at the start of the interview the interviewer believes you should get the job (otherwise you wouldn’t be there) so you will get offered the job unless you say or do something to change that view during that interview.


People who agree with this view tend to take a “defensive” approach to interviews and say and do as little as possible during the interview. They think that if the interviewer spends most of the interview talking about themselves (which does happen) then that is a good thing.


I guess that might be true in situations where you are the only candidate for the role but in situations where there are multiple candidates for a role a defensive approach risks losing out against candidates that take the opportunity to advance their cause.


I think the best strategy is always to be authentic, “can do” and friendly.


Authentic – there is no point getting some fictional version of yourself hired into a job – you risk being unhappy because the real you isn’t right for the job or the employer isn’t happy because they hired something different to what they thought they were hiring.


Can Do – most progressive employers are increasingly hiring more on attitude and approach than past skills ¦ experience these days. The world and the companies in it are changing so fast now that it is difficult to predict exactly what a role will be like an 1-2 years time so an attitude and ability to embrace change and enjoy new challenges is much more important than having X years past experience doing Y. You need to take the opportunity at interview to demonstrate that you will rise to the challenge whatever the role throws at you…


Friendly – we all spent a lot of time at work and the interviewer will be thinking “do I want to spend 8-10 hours a day with this person?” Make sure you present as someone that people will enjoy spending time with.


Ask Questions and Demonstrate You Have Done Your Research

It is very important that you ask questions during or at the end of the interview.

This is to find out information that might be interesting ¦ useful to you and questions are a very good opportunity to demonstrate that you have done your research.


Questions like this are good…


“How will recent change/event X affect your company?”

“What are your thoughts on industry trend/development Y?

“I notice you worked at company A in the past. How is working here at company B different to the culture at company A?”

“I notice you previously held role X. How is your role now different to that role?”

When the interview is over smile at the interviewer, thank them for their time and make an orderly exit.


Closing Thoughts


You probably won’t attend that many interviews in your career so you should treat each interview as important and worth investing considerable time and effort into.

The surest way to “fail” an interview is to appear unprepared or too casual at the interview.


Take an interview very seriously because it is genuinely one of the few potentially life changing things you will do.


Oh yes…good luck 🙂


 What do’s clients think?

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