How to ace your next job interview according to a recruitment specialist

Knowing how to impress an interviewer and land that job you’ve been dreaming of is a vital life skill, but one that we are rarely taught how to master. Our twenties are an age where we will no doubt face countless job interviews, but it shouldn’t have to come down to trial and error when building interviewing skills. Debbie Wyatt, a recruitment specialist and  founder of Feather Grey Recruitment Consultancy, spoke to Messy about the key things interviewers are looking for in successful candidates and shared advice on how to prepare 

Hi Debbie. So, for you clients who are in their early twenties and preparing for what could be their first formal job interview, what are the main concerns they come to you with?
Many people in this age group have little commercial or professional experience in the sector they are applying for, or don’t know how they can share examples of their experiences to prove that they are equipped to do the job they are applying for. 

Another common thing I see is people in their early twenties feeling unconfident in ‘selling’ themselves or being nervous about being interviewed by a panel of interviewers, because they’ve never been taught how to do  it or what to expect. 

So, what is it that hiring managers are looking for from a successful interviewee?
A hiring manager would be looking for evidence that the candidate has researched the role and the company as a whole, and that they are able to articulate why they would be a good fit.

Excellent communication skills are key, but more than anything they are looking for enthusiasm and drive. They are looking for candidates that show them they are committed to the role and being a part of their company. 

How would you advise someone to prepare for an interview?
I would suggest they go through and unpick the job description, thinking of how your experience, whether that be academic or commercial, could align with the responsibilities of the role. Prepare some answers based on anticipated questions, using the CARL framework: context, action, result and learn.

If you are working with a recruiter or HR, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance and support on what format the interview will take, whether it will be competency based, behavioural based, technically based or be a test, and ask them what the interviewer will be looking for.

Do some research online. You could check out Glassdoor for insights about the specific company and LinkedIn for company news and to research people who are working there doing the role you are interviewing for. Have a look at their profiles and previous experience. 

This may sound obvious, but if the interview is face-to-face, make sure you know the route to get to the location and allow extra time so that you are not late!

Prepare questions to ask them that demonstrate your interest in the role and company, and write a thank you email afterwards. 

What impression should a candidate aim to give to an interviewer, beyond their answers to their questions? How should you dress? What message should your body language convey?
I would say make eye contact and smile. Try not to fidget and sit with good posture. 

Research the dress code of the company, however, I would also recommend dressing professionally and smartly in general for any interview. If the dress code is more casual, I would recommend no hoodies with logos on, no scruffy jeans and no trainers. 

If you’ve been asked to bring your CV, certificates, or any other documents, pop them in a folder to keep them clean. 

What is the secret to nailing those dreaded, sneaky, unpredictable questions, like ‘what animal would you describe yourself as’, for example?
A good tip I would suggest that will buy you some time is to repeat the question. For example, say, ‘great question, what type of animal I would describe myself as would be …’ and then explain as to why. 

Obviously, be truthful, but consider it in the context of the role you are interviewing for – if you say ‘mouse’, suggesting you are quiet and perhaps timid, then a front of house or client facing role could raise a question as to whether this would be a good fit for you. 

If a candidate thinks they have messed up, what should they do?
Don’t panic! Reflect on how you could have answered the question in a more relevant way, learn from it and apply it at the next interview. Don’t beat yourself up.

 If appropriate, feedback to the recruiter or HR honestly as to what you think happened, and share if you were to be asked the question again for example, how you would have answered it. They know that interviews can be nerve racking.

In summary, what would you say for five key things to remember when you’re about to walk into the interview room? 

  1. Be friendly and positive
  2. Take a deep breath and keep calm
  3.  Speak clearly and not too fast
  4. Make eye contact with everyone, shake hands firmly
  5. Remember, you are also interviewing them to see if the role is for you!

Check out Debbie’s service at and more more careers advice from Messy, click here.

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