You’ve landed the interview! Now what?

You’ve spent time planning your next role, you’ve prepared your CV, you’ve completed your training, you’re ready for interview! 

When you land that all important interview you want to be sure you have a confident, eloquent story prepared.  Here we look at some common interview approaches and help navigate the preparation you might undertake to help you deliver a polished, knowledgeable interview.


1. Straightforward: Take me through your CV.

This is a traditional method but still happens.  This opening method can sometimes tell you something about the interviewers.

Either they’re unprepared and are buying time long enough for you to mention something relevant to get their questioning off the ground or they are the listening type, letting you do all the talking so that they can focus on how you tell your work story, the things you emphasise and your body language. 

To prepare for this interview approach, it’s essential you know your CV well. It sounds obvious but often we gloss over that part of the rehearsal thinking we’ll remember everything.  Go though your CV and have a practiced story around each achievement/activity that you’ve listed. Make sure you articulate the event, the process you adopted to achieve your goals and the impact. Think about the environment around you in each role, the culture, communication, people strategies.

This preparation luckily forms the basis for all interview types so it’s a good place to start.


2. Competency Based:   Tell me about a time when.

This is a very commonly used method.  The interviewer is trying to find out if you’ve dealt with situations that they are hoping to solve with this hire. 

The preparation you did for the Straightforward interview approach gives you all the background you need for your preparation.  In addition, go through each achievement and activity and categorise them.  Which of them show how you successfully;

  • Solved a critical problem
  • Handled a difficult customer
  • Dealt with a missed deadline
  • Influenced others to achieve a desired result

It’s best to have a few examples as some questions will require similar actions and outcomes.


3. Free Flow:  Tell me about yourself.

This is a great interview method; it immediately switches the atmosphere from interview to conversation.  This allows you to talk about your achievements and experiences whilst giving the interviewer insight as to who you are as a person; the thing you care about and the things you hope to achieve. 

To prepare for this type of interview approach, you’ll already have prepared for Straightforward and Competency Based so you will have a wealth of prepared stories to pull out when needed. They are your base and will give you confidence in your story telling.


There are two additional areas I like to prepare. 

A 30 second elevator pitch that covers who you are, why you’re qualified for the job and why you’re here.

An elevator pitch might go something like this;

“Tell me about yourself”

Who are you:    I’ve managed operations of varying sizes for over 20 years and have designed and built Startup operations, remediated operational and organisational structures that that weren’t functioning optimally or had failed to keep up with rapid growth.

Why you’re qualified:   My approach is about people, process and technology. Understanding what the business objective is, aligning the people to deliver against that objective, making sure they’re equipped, trained and energised.

I focus on how we take care of the customer, how we integrate ourselves/our product into their day to day so they can’t imagine doing their jobs any other way.

Why are you here:        In my next role I want to be able to help grow an operation that matches the growth and ambition of a company that is solving a problem that needs solving.  I want to work with a company that understands the way to success is people, both internally and client people.  How you deal with people is the measure of success.


The second thing I like to prepare for a Free form interview is:

Questions.  One of the best ways to turn an interview into a conversation is to ask a question early on that has your interviewer doing the talking.  This gives you the chance to learn more about the business and the problem they’re trying to solve with this role.  From there you can draw on your earlier preparation of examples that match those needs and you can demonstrate how you have the relevant experience.


Preparing for an interview is time consuming, you must research the company, prepare your answers, practice articulating your stories and devise questions that will give your interviewer confidence that you understand their business and their pain points.

The good news is, having put in the effort you’ll be thoroughly prepared and with that comes confidence which is crucial to interview success.

I’ll be diving a bit deeper into some of these methods in the future, offering some practical examples of how to prepare.

Let me know in the comments whether there is a priority order on tips for these methods!

Author: Penny

Penny is a business operations consultant, helping companies build robust operational frameworks to deliver their business goals. Believing that people are the heart and success of any business, she is passionate about helping people find fulfilling jobs that support their aspirations. For over 20 years, Penny has managed large operational teams, designing the organisational structure and defining the resource requirements. She is also a mentor to people preparing for interviews and people considering a career change.

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