6 Invaluable Interview Tips: Recruiters Share Their Secrets

15 Oct 2018

The AA Careers Handshake

There are many, many online articles that dish out interview advice.

This is another one. However, we’ve gathered these tips directly from our experienced recruitment team, and just for fun, scattered through some of their favourite anecdotes. Trust us, they are all true! Even this one…

“I once had a candidate who started writing his points on a flipchart, except it wasn’t a flipchart… it was the projector screen which he’d just ruined. As soon as he realised what he’d done, he was so embarrassed he exited via the open window rather than continue the interview (we were on the ground floor.)”

Let’s start at the beginning. We don’t mean the first question, we don’t even mean the handshake. Nope, we’re starting way before you set foot in the building…




There are several parts to this…

First of all, make sure you research the role itself. Have you fully read the job description? Do you know how your skills and experience fit the criteria? Make sure you know what’s expected of you and are able to answer questions about your responsibilities.

Research the organisation. What are the company values? What do they stand for? What are their future plans? Knowing the answers to questions like this can really give you the edge at an interview. They can also inform good questions for you to ask (more on that later.)

Finally, directions. That’s right, literally knowing how to get to your interview. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how frequently we get calls from lost candidates. You do not want to be late!

“I admit, this one was me! I attended an interview for an “Editor” role at an online magazine. I assumed this would maybe involve some copywriting/copy editing. Turns out I clearly hadn’t read the job description closely enough, and the job was for the overall Editor, overseeing all content for the magazine… solo! They looked very confused when I asked, “How is the team structured and how would I fit in?” I can tell you, the salary did not reflect this level of responsibility.”



Is there a particular song that gets you “in the zone”? Do you meditate? Positive visualisation? Walk around in your bare feet making fists with your toes? Whatever you need to do to get yourself in the right mind-set, do it!

Now that you’ve done your research and got your head straight, now what?




Okay, so technically this comes before the interview but it’s for the day itself, so it’s going here!

People still ask us about interview dress code. For any job, the answer is always the same; dress in smart business attire unless otherwise specifically stated.
If you’re not sure what we mean by “smart business attire” see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informal_wear (it goes by many names) just please, no trainers.

“I interviewed someone who wasn’t wearing shoes. I don’t mean he was wearing trainers, I mean literally nothing on his feet.”



First of all, we’d like to caveat this by saying; don’t overthink this one! The important thing is to relax and be natural without distracting yourself with thoughts like, “Am I sitting right?” Or, “Am I looking at them enough?” Or, “Oh no, maybe I’m looking at them too much!” Don’t stress yourself out.

Confident body language and eye contact is good, but overdo it and you can come across as… weird. If you’re not naturally a confident person, try to keep a lid on any physical habits you might have such as: hunching, foot tapping, face scratching, nail biting or avoiding eye contact altogether!

“One of our interviewees was nervously picking at his thumb, which eventually made him bleed profusely while he was delivering a presentation! We had to get him plaster from the first aid kit. He actually dealt with it quite well and he’s now a valued member of the team.”

Phew. You’re interview is over. Now what?




At this point, it would be easy to just give you a list of generic questions to keep in your back pocket, but we’re not going to do that!

Our advice relates back to point number one: do your research. In the process of doing this research, you might (hopefully) find that you have some genuine questions that you’re genuinely interested in having answered. Questions for the sake of questions are so easy to spot, so taking a genuine interest will set you apart from your competition.

Some areas to research which might inspire you: what future plans does the organisation have? How will technology impact day-to-day business? What’s the greatest challenge facing the organisation? That kind of thing.

In terms of questions to avoid, try not to be overly focussed on what the company can do for you. After all, let’s assume you know most of that because of your great research. For example, asking about salary, holiday and benefits might be best left until further down the line.



Look, not every interview is going to go perfectly. If you feel like the interview went badly, don’t beat yourself up over it. First of all, it probably didn’t go as badly as you thought it did. We are often our own harshest critics.

Now that it’s over, learn from it and move on. Focus on what did go well, keep it, then think about where you could improve and what you might do differently next time. In the long run this experience will only make your next interview better.

Finally, don’t be this guy…

“One of my colleagues once interviewed a man who was unsuccessful, but refused to let her leave unless she offered him the job. He actually stood in the doorway to block her path. She made her excuses to fetch her “vacancies book” and swiftly called security to have him removed from the building.”