Career clinic: Seven stages of a job interview

Woman interview office meeting
By Sophie Randles, Head of Practice with Rutherford Cross

15 August 2018

“How do I make sure I’m ready for a job interview?” Sophie Randles shares key advice for negotiation the process - from application to accepting an offer.

As Benjamin Franklin put it: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Thorough research and effective preparation is essential to guarantee interview success. To help structure your preparation, here’s a few tips to help impress your prospective interviewer.

1. Do your research

Interviewers expect candidates to have a good grasp of what their organisation does. Why not take it a few steps further?

  • Conduct a basic SWOT analysis; with this knowledge, you’ll be able to add value to the conversation, while showing strong business acumen and a genuine interest in what they do.
  • Who is your interviewer? Consider their career path and background, mutual connections on LinkedIn, and common interests. Your ability to build rapport is important.
  • Study the job description. Not only will a thorough examination of the duties and required personal qualities help you to understand more about what the role entails, it will also help you recognise exactly what the employer is looking for.

2. Go armed with strategic questions

Cover information not discussed. Don’t ask for information that can be found on the firm’s website - you should be asking for opinions.

For example: “Why did you join the firm and what makes it a great place to work?”; “What do you consider the most important criteria for success in this job?”; “What are the challenges in this sector?”; “How will my performance be evaluated?”

3. Encourage debate

You are also assessing the firm’s suitability for you, hence the importance of preparing questions and SWOT analysis to encourage a forum that moves away from direct assessment of you.

Nerves are great - they show you care - but don’t let them get the better of you.

4. Non-verbal presence is important

You are constantly being assessed, from the moment you walk in the door. Your presence and business demeanour are all-encompassing, so consider perceptions: work attire, handshake, eye contact and body language, business etiquette, etc.

5. Listen and seek guidance from your recruitment consultant

Take advice from your recruitment consultant - schedule a call or meeting with your recruiter immediately before and after for preparation and debriefing.

Getting insight on personalities and culture, a view on what’s “not on the spec”, and so on, is where the value can be seen.

6. Sell yourself!

Your CV might have landed you the interview, but what comes next will secure you the job. It’s now your time to shine and differentiate yourself. Listening to your consultant and preparing appropriately will only help this.

7. Clarify next steps / debriefing

Clarifying next steps demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm to continue with the process. Debriefing directly after an interview is important in order to discuss initial thoughts, although it’s the second debriefing, following a time for reflection, which reinforces true interest.

Contact Sophie Randles from Rutherford Cross for further advice on a career in audit

Contact Rutherford Cross

About the author

Sophie Randles leads the Audit & Advisory business for Rutherford Cross, bringing with her a strong track record of delivering retained assignments at Director/Partner level in the accountancy profession in Scotland.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


  • Career development
  • Leadership and management

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