Important Interview Dos and Don’ts


Making a good first impression is extremely important when it comes to a job interview and can mean the difference between interview feedback and a job offer.



At Dovetail HRS, we want all of our clients to achieve interview success. In order to help, we have provided a breakdown of how to behave in an interview and how not to behave…


What You SHOULD Do


  1. Familiarise yourself with the job specification
    Get reacquainted with your potential roles and responsibilities. You will be able to think about how you can express your suitability for the job in your answers. 
  2. Research the company you are attending an interview for
    Putting in some pre-interview research time will help to show your passion and interest for the company. Interviewers will usually expect candidates to answer some top lines questions about their business.

  3. Prepare answers for the main questions
    “Why do you want the job?”, “what are your strengths?”, “what are your weaknesses?”, “why would you be suitable for the role?”…all of these questions are pretty standard for a job interview and the answers to these should be considered beforehand. 
  4. Organise your interview outfit in advance
    There is nothing worse than running around like a headless chicken on the morning or afternoon of your interview. Planning your outfit will tick one unnecessary worry off your pre-interview checklist. 
  5. Dress smartly
    It is better to dress too smartly than too casually. Wearing a smart, professional outfit will indicate to employers immediately that you are serious about the role and working for their company. 
  6. Speak clearly and take your time when answering questions
    Nerves are normal prior to an interview but listen carefully to the questions, take a deep breath and answer your question calmly and clearly. Once you get going, you will forget you were even nervous in the first place! 
  7. Vocalise your skillset
    When answering questions, highlight your skills and use examples of situations in previous roles where these were applied wherever possible. However, make sure you don’t boast! That could come across negatively and indicate that you have an attitude problem. 
  8. Stand tall and sit upright
    Stand and sit proudly and with good posture. Leaning to the side of your chair and moving around too much will indicate that you lack interest. In order to maintain a good stance, we would recommend clasping your hands together and resting them on your knees to prevent yourself from fidgeting. 
  9. Prepare post-interview questions
    Providing questions for your interviewer demonstrates that you have thought about the role and its offerings and will come across positively. 
  10. Turn off your mobile phone
    It is safe to say that a call from a friend or family member during your interview will not go down well and is likely to ruin your chances of being within an employer’s final selection. 


  1. Arrive late
    This demonstrates lack of organisation and a lack of respect for the company who have kindly invited you to potentially join them.
  2. Lie to your interviewer
    Embellishing your CV with false information or over-exaggerating your achievements will be identified by your interviewer and will not go down well. 
  3. Smoke before your interview
    Being a smoker is fine but it is not advisable to smoke prior to your interview in case the smell is off-putting for the interview. 
  4. Discuss your current work issues
    Dishing out your dissatisfaction about your current colleagues is a definite no, no! 
  5. Discuss controversial topics, swear or speak in slang
    These alone can quickly change a person’s good impression of you into a bad impression. 
  6. Prepare written notes
    Do not bring notes or your CV into the interview. Prepare yourself with mental notes instead. 
  7. Argue with your interviewer
    Arguments are not going to win you your dream job. 
  8. Be arrogant
    Bad attitude? Bad interview outcome!

5 Interview Styles and How to Prepare for Them

According to the latest report published by HESA, an organisation that specialises in higher education data and analysis, 745,005 higher education qualifications were awarded for the academic year 2014/2015 with 72% of students having gained employment six months after leaving education. However, for the year ahead, Brexit is causing great uncertainty, and figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters warn that for this academic year the number of new graduate jobs has fallen by 8% (from 21,427 graduate positions last year to 19,732 graduate positions this year).


With September a notoriously busy period for recruitment, it means that now, more than ever, you need to stand out at interview in order to secure your first step on the career ladder. To help you negotiate the minefield of corporate interviews, we’ve pulled together our advice on facing the top five interview styles, and how you should prepare for them.


1) The standard interview

Also known as ‘the face-to-face interview’, this will be a meeting between you and one representative of the company. Typically used in smaller companies, the main benefit of the standard interview is that you’re usually interviewed by the manager of the position you are applying for. It’s great because you should be able to gauge how well you get on at the time, but don’t risk becoming to overly familiar; it’s still an interview and you must remain professional at all times.


Standard interviews tend to start with the ice-breaker, “So, tell me about yourself.” Here, the interviewer is not looking for you to recount your life story, or to regurgitate what’s on your CV. They want to see your personality, so pick a few key points and illustrate them with examples to give you more scope to show off your attributes, but try to keep your answer to about two minutes in length.


You will then be asked a number of common interview questions so the interviewer can see if your skills match those of the job requirements. Typical interview questions include:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Where to you see yourself five years from now?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What is your salary expectation?
  • Do you have any questions?


Before your interview, spend some time researching the company using its website, social media channels and media outlets. Then prepare some bullet points to help you answer the above questions with confidence during the interview.


2) The telephone interview

Many companies will request a telephone interview before inviting you in for a face-to-face meeting. This enables then to get a better understanding of the type of candidate you are in a cost-effective way. The great thing about telephone interviews, is that generally they’re quicker than a standard interview, and you’re able to keep your notes out in front of you. However, unlike a face-to-face interview where the interviewer can read your body language, in a telephone interview you’re reliant solely on your voice.


It’s essential to do as much preparation as you would for a standard interview – the more you prepare, the more it will help to overcome any nerves. In addition to your research, it’s a good idea to practise before the interview. Call a friend or family member and ask them to interview you, providing honest feedback on how you come across over the phone and offering constructive criticism for improvements.


Then when it comes to the interview itself, make sure the interviewer is only focussed on your voice; turn off background noise, like the TV or music, put pets in another room, and ask family/friends/housemates to leave the room so you have a quiet environment to work in. Then before you dial, take a couple of deep breaths to compose yourself, sit up straight and remember to smile – it really does show in your voice. Make sure you speak clearly, at a reasonable pace and are succinct in your answers.


3) The presentation interview

One interview style gaining in popularity is the presentation, because it gives the interviewer an opportunity to see you in action. Usually you will be notified ahead of time and asked to bring a prepared presentation to the interview, however, don’t be shocked if it’s sprung upon you on the day.


With a presentation interview, you’re generally being judged on:

  • The quality of your ideas.
  • The clarity of your thinking, and whether you’re able to take a strategic perspective.
  • Your verbal communications skills, including your ability to influence and engage your audience.
  • Your organisational skills: how well you prepare beforehand and manage your time within the presentation.
  • And if it’s a key part of the role, your formal presentation skills.


To ace your presentation, preparation really is the key. Spend time researching your subject matter, understanding the audience, and predicting follow-up questions they may ask. Then ensure your presentation is well-structured, with concise slides – nobody appreciates ‘death by PowerPoint’. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than 10 slides, with 10 words per slide or an image to illustrate what you’re talking about. Then practise, practise, practise. You can never be too familiar with your subject matter, and the more you practise, the more confident you’ll be.


On the day, make sure you have a backup of your presentation, either on a USB stick or with printed slides, in case technology fails you. Make sure you’re dressed professionally, you pronounce and project your words to the audience rather than burying your head in a script, make eye contact with everyone in the room, and enjoy it.


4) The group interview

As the name suggests, there will be several candidates interviewed at the same time. Often the interview will start with a short presentation about the company. You will then be asked to perform a group task, or participate in a group discussion, and there will usually be an opportunity for the interview team to speak to your one-to-one.


During a group interview, the main thing the employer is observing is how you interact with other candidates, and the role you take within the group; for example, are your leading, questioning, or carrying out specific tasks. But they are also assessing your communication, persuasiveness, delegation, and organisational skills. There are no right or wrong answers, as different skills are required to fulfil different job roles.


To stand out from the crowd on the day, make sure you arrive early and enter the room with confidence. It may not appear so but you are being monitored from the moment you enter the room, so make an impression from the start. You’ll see that most of the candidates tend to ignore each other and remain silent. Resist the urge to join in their behaviour, or pull out your phone. Instead, start introducing yourself and asking the other candidates questions. Remember to remain professional; sit up straight as body language can make all the different, making you appear attentive and alert, showing the interviewers that you’re genuinely interested in their company, and what the other candidates have to say.


5) The panel interview

This is probably the most daunting of all the interview styles as it involves being faced with a number of senior people in an organisation. If you’re applying for a job in the public sector, or within a larger company, it’s very likely that you’ll have to face a panel as part of the recruitment process.


It may seem daunting, but the trick is to treat everyone with equal respect, as you don’t necessarily know who is in charge of hiring, and who’s simply there to influence the decision. Unless you’ve been told who the panel is ahead of time, listen carefully to their names and position within the company, as this can help you tailor your answers. For example, someone in IT may want a more technical answer compared to someone in marketing who wants to see how you could support the brand.


It’s likely that everyone on the panel will ask you questions during the interview. Focus on the person asking the question at the time, directing the majority of your attention to them, but involving the other panel members by making eye contact with each person in turn.


You’ll also find that some people will take notes during the interview. This is likely to happen in all interview styles and shouldn’t put you off. They’re not necessarily writing anything good/bad; companies have to keep records of all interviews they conduct, and it serves as a reminder of what you’ve said when they discuss their decision later on.


But as with most interviews, it’s all about chemistry. You can be the most qualified person in the world with years of experience, but if the interviewer doesn’t think you’ll fit within their company culture, you’re unlikely to be hired. So the best thing you can do is make eye contact with everyone, smile, listen and lean forward to show you’re really engaged in the conversation.


Talk to the experts

Established in 1989, The Dovetail Group is an independent recruitment agency based in Newbury. We have built up an excellent reputation for providing a professional yet personal recruitment service, so if you have any questions about interview technique, call us on 01635 43100 or contact us.

What Not to Do in a Job Interview

After spending hours perfecting your cover letter and tweaking your CV, you’ve finally managed to get an interview for your dream job…

Don’t let your hard work go to waste, with a little preparation and a few deep breaths you can avoid these common interview blunders.


When in a Job Interview, Don’t…


Dress Inappropriately

Whilst many workplaces will not require you to wear full business wear into the office every day, when it comes to interviews, proper business attire is expected!



Most employers will be able to spot truth stretchers a mile off and are unlikely to buy into half-truths and exaggerations. What’s more, thanks to the internet, information is everywhere and if you stretch the truth in your interview, you are likely to get found out.



Although you may not be happy in your current job, it’s important not to appear bitter or resentful. Avoid bad mouthing your current or previous employers during a job interview. Interviewees who are quick to share information about the internal goings on within their current company will appear indiscreet and disloyal – neither of which will help you secure a new job.


Use Bad Language

Bad language is not appropriate in the work place nor is it OK to use in a job interview. Sloppy language indicates a sloppy work ethic so we advise you to err on the side of caution and avoid using slang as well as overly familiar terms.


Be Late

Time is money and your employer will not be wanting to waste their valuable time waiting for you. Leave in plenty of time for your interview, plan your route to ensure you avoid traffic hotspots and aim to arrive 15 minutes early.


Share Too Much

Don’t share too many personal stories or go into any issues you are having at home. Whilst sometimes it’s good to vent, a job interview is neither the time nor the place. You want your interviewer to think you are calm, cool and collected.


Be Arrogant

Whilst it’s important to appear confident, you don’t want to appear over confident. Over confidence is one of the biggest turn offs during a job interview. People who think they know it all are notoriously hard to train and hard to work with.



On the flip side, another big interview turn off is candidates who freeze up and give one syllable answers. Yes we appreciate interviews are scary, but not speaking up about your skills and experience is going to hamper your chances of employment.

Be Clueless

Turning up to an interview with very little knowledge of the company comes across as lazy and uninterested. There’s really no excuse for turning up to a job interview without at least reading their About Us page on their website. If you don’t care enough about the interview to research the company, it’s fair for the interviewer to assume that you won’t be interested enough to find out how to do the job well.


Fidget or Slouch

Having good body language and posture will go a long way in creating a good first impression. Don’t slouch when you sit down and avoid fidgeting as this will make you appear nervous and lacking in confidence. How can you expect an employer to believe in your abilities when you don’t believe in yourself?


Combining our advice with a good dose of common sense will help you make a great first impression and increase your chances of landing your dream job.


For more job seeking tips and tricks, go to our Candidate Resource area or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.



How to Seal the Deal – 10 Questions You Should Ask in a Job Interview

You’ve answered all the interviewers’ questions, discussed your wide range of skills, but you’re not done yet…
It’s time for you to turn the tables and ask your interviewer some insightful questions. Continue Reading »