Guest blog: How to shine at an interview

Guest blog from Debbie Gingell, Career Coach at Leg Up Careers

The keys to a successful interview are: a positive attitude and preparation

First impressions:

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so stand tall and believe in the person you are:

 Every applicant will experience some form of nervous tension – this is normal. Breathe deeply and tell yourself (audibly) that you will be an asset to the organisation – they will be lucky to get you!

 Look the interviewer/s in the eye as you greet them and smile! Shake hands firmly – not limply and not bone crushingly.

 Always keep in your mind that, you’ve been invited to an interview because, on paper, the employer believes that you might be the person they are looking for.

 The Employer wants to like you – wants to fill their vacancy

 Interviews are a two way process and you are approaching it as an equal.


Employers will formulate a list of open ended questions in order to find out what they want to know. This type of questioning does not allow you to answer yes or no so you have to be prepared to talk about yourself. The best way you can answer their questions is to be thoroughly prepared. Solid preparation will increase your confidence on the day, so do your homework:

 Research the company – look at their website, competitors, trade magazines, annual report etc.

o What appeals to you about the organisation?

o Be prepared to provide a brief overview of the company and what they do

o Why would you like to work for the company?

 Study the job description/personal specification

o What skills or experience are they asking for?

o How do you meet the criteria?

o Prepare evidence and examples to back up your skills and experience

 Anticipate the questions you might be asked and prepare answers

o Rehearse your responses OUT LOUD – it really helps!!!

 Consider any weak areas in your application

o Prepare positive responses – how you plan to develop specific skills etc.

 Prepare some interesting questions that you could ask at the end of the interview

o How many people work in the department/organisation?

o What training or induction is given?

o Why did the vacancy occur?

o Who do you see as your main competitors?


About Debbie Gingell:

Throughout my career, I have worked with people from a variety of backgrounds including: students, senior business executives, refugees, mums returning to work, ex-offenders and long term unemployed. I have worked hard to support people who need to secure their first/next job or University place and genuinely love what I do!

We are all unique individuals and I believe that it is important for us to secure the right job because it can lead to a sense of worth and personal satisfaction. My freelance work involves professional CV writing and career coaching for the Times Education Careers Department in London. Providing local and on line career advice and support via Leg up careers, and working with students at an Independent School in Cambridge, supporting students with their University applications and career decisions.

I am extremely committed to helping people to overcome barriers to employment so that they can move forwards and become more successful!

Feel free to email me on: or visit


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