How to be the perfect candidate

So the CV advice paid off!

The employer has seen your CV, it was easy to read, simple and to the point, outlining what they were looking for – great! So you have now been invited for an interview. Hopefully you already realise that it’s not a good look to go to an interview with a hangover, chewing gum and a mobile phone going off in your pocket! So here are our top ten ways to impress:

  1. Do your homework You may be asked at interview: “what do you know about our company?” This is not the time for silence. All companies have web sites today, or even a quick call to the switchboard can elicit some up-to-date information.
  2. Work experience If you want to change to a career in retail, get a part-time job in a shop. If you can’t get paid work in your chosen industry or career, volunteer to work for nothing or offer to do a project for free.
  3. It’s, er, work Recruiters want to see your work ethic, show you understand that a 9am start means not rolling in at 9.40 and heading straight for the coffee machine. A strong work ethic counts for a lot.
  4. Evidence that you have learnt from experience You may have had a great time during your travels to Australia but an employer wants to know what you have learnt that’s relevant
  5. A can-do attitude Research among 4,000 employees in a variety of industries and jobs revealed six personal characteristics predicting the likelihood of staff being engaged: adaptability, passion for the work, emotional maturity, positive disposition, self-efficacy and achievement orientation. Get the message across.
  6. Examples about your previous achievements Employers are suspicious of vague, generalised answers to interview questions. They want to hear you use the word ‘I’ and describe exactly what you did.
  7. Good reasons for leaving previous jobs Employers feel anxious if it appears you had an unreasonable dispute with your previous employer. So if you left your last job under a cloud it is better to be honest. Remember honesty is the best policy, the truth always comes out.
  8. Good teamwork If you are invited to an assessment day when other candidates will be present, don’t see the other candidates as competition, impress by showing your team working skills.
  9. Politeness A ‘Thank you’ at the end of an interview. A short letter or e-mail to say thanks for giving their time.
  10. A smile Says it all.

​Interview questions

Ok so we don’t know what interview questions you are going to be asked, but there are some example questions below and we are pretty sure at least some of them will be asked, so grab a friend and practice some role play! Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail!

Standard questions

How would you describe yourself?

How would your manager describe you?

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

What are your life goals?

What are your long term career objectives?

How do you plan to achieve your career goals?

What are the most important career rewards that you expect?

Which motivates you more – the money or the job?

What are your key strengths and weaknesses?

Who do you think our main competitors are and how do we compare?

What gives you your greatest motivation?

Why should we hire you?

How do you determine success?

How do you work under pressure?

What do you know about this company?

Can you describe a major problem you have had and how you dealt with it?

What have you learned from your mistakes?

Can you describe how you have turned around a bad result?

​Quirky questions

The below questions are a little quirky we know, but trust us you could be asked them, employers like to throw a curve ball in now and again, the reason for this is they want to see how quick you react and do you think about the answer logically an example of this:

How many ping pong balls could you fit into a bus?

Answer 1. “Millions I would say 20 million? (Assumptive approach)

Answer 2. “I have got no idea” (Isn’t really interested and doesn’t know where to begin)

Answer 3. “Well that depends how big the bus and the balls are” (Logical approach)


How much would you charge to clean all the windows in Cardiff?

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

How many ping pong balls could you fit into a bus?

How many people are using Facebook on a Friday at 2.30pm?

How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?

If you were a superhero, which one would you be?

What do you think of garden gnomes?

There are no real right or wrong answers, the questions are more to see what makes you tick, how you think or approach a seemingly impossible task. A trawl on the internet will reveal many more and also example answers too.