Interviews – How to be Successful

January 08, 2014  |   Career Coaching Blog,Featured   |     |   0 Comment

The advice and guidance given in this article is based on our work with our career coaching clients.  Often when people are unsuccessful at interviews you will hear them say things like; I was very nervous, some of the interview questions were very difficult, I forgot to tell the interviewer about a really important achievement.


This article equips you to be confident and successful at any interviews. The secret is in the preparation for the interviews and if you do this well you will not face any of the difficulties described above. By following the career coaching guidance in this article you will have a better chance of success than ninety five percent of your competition.


Make Sure You Understand the Job

Before interviews look through the job description for the role. Pick out the technical skills you need and the competencies that will be expected. These are often available from companies and public sector organisations. To assist you in doing this the following is a list of fairly common competencies in use. Just pick the ones likely to be most relevant to your job:

  • Drive for Results
  • Team working
  • Decision making
  • Courage and Conviction
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning and organising
  • Communication
  • Inter-personal Skills
  • Impact and Influencing Skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • Commitment to the Customer
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Tenacity
  • Resilience
  • Technical (these are the technical skills required to do the job)

We find in career coaching that although the competencies required by organisations may look different, they are often actually the same, but with a different title. So for example Leadership could be titled Motivating Others. Look through your CV for one or two examples of where you have shown each of the competencies for the role you are applying for. Once you have your examples write each one out in the CAR format, the letters stand for; Context or the situation, Action, Result.


Using the CAR Approach

As an example of this we’ll use the competency of Drive for Results.


  • The Context (situation) may have been; the company needed to increase its sales of side orders with main meals. I was asked by my Director to find a way of increasing sales within one month.


  • The Action may have been; I arranged a meeting of our outlet managers to come up with ideas. Within forty eight hours we devised a simple sales training programme for staff, backed up by an incentive scheme. Rather than wait for printers we devised a simple set of notes and incentive rules which we got out that week. In the following week we trained the staff and launched the incentive.


  • The Result may have been; we found a way of increasing sales and implemented it within two weeks. As a result of this initiative sales of side orders grew by 55% over the next three months. Write your examples out in this format and practice them.


By using the CAR approach you will have an easy way of structuring your answers so they are easy to follow and understand for the interviewer. As a guide spend 30 seconds on the Context. Spend up to two minutes on the Action and 30 seconds on the Results. This may sound a painful exercise but it is one that has worked exceptionally well for our career coaching clients.


Make sure you have researched the company using the press and internet. This equips you to know their current challenges and demonstrates your initiative and interest in the job (two more possible competencies they may be looking for).


Creating a Great First Impression

Practice running through your CV aloud so that you can do it in around three or four minutes. This is likely to be the first thing you are asked to do at any interviews. Ensure you highlight your key achievements most related to the job for which you are applying. Also emphasise where you were selected or promoted for particular roles. This shows that you have had a successful track record.


Once you have practiced your CV and competencies in CAR format alone, ask a friend or member of your family to act as the interviewer. This will feel embarrassing but it will make sure you are ready for the real thing. In reality it’s likely to be worse than the real thing. Initially this is something many career coaching clients find difficult to do. So in career coaching we advocate plenty of practice and rehearsal. If you practice enough you will find that you can relax a bit at the interview knowing you are prepared.


On the Day of the Interview

Check to make sure you know how to get to your interview location. This may sound pretty basic but some of our career coaching clients have driven to a venue only to find there is no local parking. On the day leave enough time to arrive fifteen minutes early. This will give you time to check your appearance and allow you to compose yourself before you meet the interviewer. Whilst waiting and being shown to the interview room ensure you are polite and courteous to all staff. Staff do make comments to the interviewer where a candidate may have been rude and this would not help your chances.


The first five minutes of  interviews are vital to creating an important first impression. When you go into the room make sure you look confident. It will help if you smile and maintain eye contact with the interviewer. When you shake their hand use normal pressure do not try and break their hand, or offer a damp cloth type of handshake. During the interview maintain a confident and relaxed body language. This will be easier if you have prepared in the way described in this article.


So many candidates fail to prepare properly for interviews and this can make them either appear hesitant, or lacking in communication skills because they ramble on without imparting the information required. As Career Coaches we know that the guidance in this article works. It enables our career coaching clients to feel confident and convince the interviewer that they are the best suited for the job. To find out more about our services please see our career coaching page.




Tony Goddard





Key words; Interviews, Interview Questions, Career Coaching, Executive Coaching, Career Coach, Interview Technique, Career Coaching Company, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Services, Career Coaching Provider

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