How to play the interview game

Written by: IDEX Consulting
Published on: 11 Jul 2018

Sadly, it is a fact of life that having the right range of technical skills, as outlined in your CV, in not sufficient in itself to ensure success at interview.


At IDEX, we cannot stress enough that this is the key to interview success. As an absolute minimum you need to:

  • Read the job description carefully and make notes. If one is not available, talk in detail to you Consultant about the role and its requirements.
  • Read the version of your CV that has been submitted carefully and make a mental note of key experiences that match the job specification.
  • Establish the correct location and how to get there. If using public transport or parking nearby, give yourself plenty of time to take possible delays into account.
  • Study company brochures/literature and/or website.

Where possible you should:

  • Look at recent independent company news and reviews, using Google or Glassdoor.
  • Identify exactly who you are meeting, their position in the company and the recruiting process.
  • Know something of the company’s history.
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Understand the company’s products and services.
  • Revenues and profitability?

Interviewer Techniques

Most companies incorporate some form of Competency Based interviewing Technique. This is designed to give a systematic, structured and goal-orientated interview technique to facilitate well-informed, reliable and accurate hiring decisions. These are essentially questions designed to explore your experience and gauge your reactions to certain scenarios… normally based on the core competencies of the role.

Answering Interview Questions

Not all interviewers will be formulaic, however. They can vary tremendously, from very informal to formal.

However, some questions can be anticipated, as can the subject matter. If you are well prepared, as mentioned above, then the majority of questions will not cause you a problem.

Example interview questions:

  • What are your career aspirations?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What interests you about our product/service?
  • Of your previous jobs, which did you enjoy most and why?
  • How have you managed conflict in the past?
  • Describe what you have done in your career that shows initiative
  • What are you weaknesses? Your strengths?
  • What does teamwork mean to you?
  • What style of management gets the best results from you?
  • What have been your major achievements to date?

A few general rules

  • Ensure your shoes are polished, you look professional and you have had the chance to freshen up. (Men still wear a tie for interviews, the casual look is too risky.)
  • Speak up when answering questions.
  • Answer thoroughly, try to avoid “yes” or “no” answers unless it is required.
  • Don’t worry about pausing before you answer, it shows you can think and are not delivering rehearsed answers and sound bites. A good tip is to always accept a glass of water if offered. A well timed sip of water can give you a few precious seconds to think before answering a question.
  • Be prepared for hypothetical situation questions and take your time on these. If you are answering a competency based question, present the answer as a story…with a beginning, a middle and an end. Essentially covering off “this was the issue/situation, this is what I did and this was the result.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected question designed to see how you cope in a less predictable circumstances.
  • Aim to ask 3 questions at the end of the interview (You may need to prepare 6 in case some are answered during the process). Remember that the interview is a 2 way process and it is important you get a feel for the culture of the business as well.
  • At the end of the interview, ask your questions in an open manner, i.e., questions which cannot be answered yes or no. E.g., How? Who? What? When and Why?

Interview Do’s and Don’ts


  • Give a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
  • Bring spare copies of your CV in case they are needed.
  • Accept a drink-water is best. Even the most confident interviewee gets thirsty. Moreover, it establishes time for rapport and gives you more time to settle down.
  • Ask for permission to take notes if you want to. This can show genuine interest and good technique – although be sure they are only for “key words” to refer to when you want to ask questions later.
  • Ask good, relevant questions. These questions can be prepared in advance, but be sure that you do not repeat subjects already covered.
  • Try to smile occasionally, as you would if you were In any other kind of meeting. Interviews are not firing squads.
  • Take 5 minutes to find a mirror before you start, just to make sure you are looking professional and dressed appropriately.


  • Mirror – if you know what this is, don’t do it. Most interviewers will be aware of a deliberate use of it – this is very irritating and distracting.
  • Fidget and fiddle or play with you hair or jewelry.
  • Use your question time to ask about pay and benefits, your Consultant will be able to advise you on this and it keeps the interview firmly focused on your ability.
  • Take verbatim or copious notes; it is incredibly distracting waiting for an interviewee to finish “War & Peace”.
  • Stare, but at the same time, try to avoid looking down when answering questions.