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Interviewing - your chance to shine!

The key to a successful interview is "Preparation". That's not just Googling the company and reading the job description! It's about understanding what the company is all about, the range of products/services they may provide, the culture, where the synergies with your skills and experience lie and how you want to come across.

It is advisable to consider what type of skills and competencies are likely to be required and think about the examples you can provide that best meet these needs. Of course, you'll never second guess exactly what you're going to be asked in an interview but some effective research and prep will maximise your chances of hitting the nail on the head!

The Preparation

Preparation is your key to success! Here are a couple of vital tasks to complete before attending any interview:

  • Research the company. Know key information such as who they are owned by, whether they’re private/public/charitable trust, what their core products and services are, who their target market is and who you are interviewing with.
  • Look through their website to get a “feel” for the company and their core values.
  • Mystery shop them by phone and in person and make notes although be careful not to be too negative when feeding this back to your interviewer!
  • Use social media. With the array of web based tools available to you, you’ll be surprised what you can find out on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Use Linkedin to research your interviewer. The more you know about who you are meeting the better!Text Box:
  • Plan your route well in advance, aim to be early and take their contact details with you.
  • It’s advisable to take a copy of your CV with you and a copy of the jobs description/person specification (if there is one) and bullet point or highlight exactly how your skills and experience match the requirements. It’s also worth preparing some carefully selected questions about the job or company.
  • Know your key strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to talk about them.
  • Prepare some questions that also demonstrate your understanding of the role             

The structure of an interview very much depends on the interviewer and their preferred approach. Some prefer an informal method and will have a chat over a cup of coffee to find out about you, whilst others may prefer a more formal competency based approach with a structured scoring system.

No matter what the interviewer’s preferred method, remember they are all trying to find the same information: Can he/she do the job? Does he/she really want the job? And finally will he/she fit in, culturally within the organisation?

The Interview

Don’t keep them waiting!

It’s an old adage but, first impressions count. That means, whatever happens, don’t be late! If the unexpected and unavoidable happens, make sure you call them or your agent to let them know the situation.

What impression do you give?

Dress to impress! Appearance goes a long way and people will often form a snap judgement about you Text Box:  before you even sit down so it’s vitally important to reinforce a strong professional image. Business suits aren't always essential these days but make sure what you wear is smart and appropriate! A bit of prep as mentioned above will give you a decent steer on this. Colours should be kept low key (no novelty ties!!!) and jewellery to an absolute minimum. Do not smoke before the interview or chew gum during it and take sunglasses off!

What you're saying!  There are many styles of interview and different interviewers may look for different things when asking questions but here are a few tips and rules of thumb:

Try not to answer questions with just “yes” or “no”. Ideally, you’ll be able to demonstrate your answers with a little more information to back it up. Remember, your communication skills are likely to be assessed throughout the interview.

Talk positively about your experiences. Even if you’ve had bad experiences, try to avoid talking negatively about them and look for the positives that your took from those situations.

Understand what your interviewer is looking for. It’s very difficult to sell something to someone if you’re not sure what they’re after. So if you’re in any doubt as to whether you’re pushing the right buttons, ask your interviewer exactly what they are looking for. Then you can match your answers more specifically to their needs rather than trying to sell all of your benefits as a candidate to them in the hope that one hits the nail on the head. Make sure you read any job descriptions and speak to your consultant before you interview for any last minute tips.

Back yourself up. Competency based interview questions require evidence. Achievements in previous roles go a long way to convincing an interviewer that your could replicate those results in their business. But, if you do talk about specific achievements, make sure you can back up what you’re saying with some hard facts such as sales figures, references or examples of material you used. Be prepared to talk in depth about your strategies, methodologies, considerations and implementation.

Interviewers will often ask you about times that you haven’t achieved what you set out to. Don’t be afraid that this will be taken as a sign of your weakness. Moreover, they will be looking for your analysis of the situation and your ability to identify how you could change your approach to affect a different outcome.

Don’t knock the competition. There’s nothing more unsavoury in an interviewer than bad-mouthing other companies or individuals. This should be avoided at all costs as it will always come across as unprofessional. If you need to compare and contrast facilities/companies/management styles etc, always use constructive criticism to make your point rather than an all-out offensive.

Be honest. The leisure industry is comparatively small and your interviewers will often have worked for several companies in the past or know someone who you have worked with. Reputations spread quickly and even the smallest of lies fabrications can come back to bite you. Keep it real and you’ll come across with integrity and professionalism.

Look for opportunities to sell yourself. One of the greatest skills of the good interviewee will be their ability to create or manipulate opportunities throughout the conversation to sell your skills and suitability as a candidate. Picking up on vital pieces of information such as how previous candidates or employees have performed in the role or potential problems the business may be facing can really be your ticket to success. Listen carefully and take these opportunities to demonstrate exactly how you can be of massive benefit to them.

How you're saying it!

When meeting an interviewer for the first time, greet them with a smile and a firm (not bonecrushing) handshake. Be aware of your body language. Keep it open and positive. Putting barriers between yourself and the interviewer can come across as defensive so try to avoid it even if you feel the need to. Very rarely do interviewers attack!

Text Box:  Using positive body language during your interview can really help to support your words. Nodding your head is a great way of reinforcing what you’re saying and hand movements can add dynamism to the conversation. In particular, bold hand movements demonstrate that you feel at ease but, start conservatively! It’s better not to make too many hand movements at the start of an interview and add them gradually throughout.


Apart from paying attention to your own body language, it’s also advisable to pay attention to your interviewers. As a general rule, mirroring and matching their body language and maintaining good eye contact with them, should enable better and more open communication. If they’re making big hand movements and constantly changing body position, then you should feel free to do so. If they don’t, try and restrain yourself for now.

Getting feedback

Normally, towards the end of a formal interview, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Make sure you pre-prepare questions and, ideally they should be geared around the role, the type of person the company is looking for and the prospects for progression.

As a general rule, it’s advisable not to bring up the subject of salary/package at first interview stage unless your interviewer brings it up. Your interviewer will want to see that you are interested in the role itself, not just the money.

We offer tailored interview advice for all of our candidates as well as interview training for our clients. To talk to us about these services, contact us on 01895 450640.

Some of Our Clients