Gareth Tomkins
July 2021

As the Covid19 restrictions are starting to ease in the UK, here at Linear we are now seeing a huge increase in interviews including face to face job interviews, which is so pleasing to see. As a result we thought we would put a quick guide together to help our candidates/clients or other jobseekers who may have an interview approaching. Whether you are experienced or not, an interview can be a daunting prospect so we hope this guidance can help settle any nerves and help with your preparation for the big day.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

There is no such thing as being too prepared for an interview. Whether you’re new to the job hunting process or have had plenty of experience, preparation is essential – do thorough research for interview success; learn about the company, the interviewer(s) and the company culture. The more information you can collect, the more it will help settle any nerves. 

But what do you need to prepare for an interview and why?

Knowing what you need to prepare for helps! Research the company, think about some of the questions that you may be asked and make sure you have some questions prepared to ask your interviewer too.

Company Research

You might know some basic information from when you first applied for the vacancy, but that isn’t really enough and now is the time to learn more about who you might be working for. Do they have any blogs you could read? Do you know the projects they are currently working on? What does their website say about them? What can you learn about the culture of the organisation? Have you checked out their social media pages? Showing you know what the company is up to leaves a strong impression that you are enthusiastic and eager.

If you know the name(s) or the person/people who are interviewing you, see what you can learn about them. LinkedIn is always a great starting point. 

The more you know and understand, the better equipped you will be, and ultimately the more confidence you will have.

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Most employers expect candidates to dress smartly and appropriately for their interviews, but there are plenty of employers who are encouraging a more relaxed work attire, and the Covid pandemic will have contributed to this trend, given the increased switch to online interviews.

The culture of the company, its size and the industry in which it operates will also play a part in work attire. The best solution is to just ask! And perhaps err on the side of caution and dress smartly – it’s better to be too smart rather than too casual.

Example Interview Questions

At your interview you’ll be asked a series of questions to help assess whether you’re a suitable fit for the role you’ve applied for, both by helping the employer to understand your current knowledge and skill set, and providing further insight into your personality and aspirations. Although this can seem daunting, it’s a great opportunity to discuss all the brilliant things you’ve done to make the interviewer realise that you are a perfect match for their role and their company. 
But remember, this is also your chance to learn more about the company and assess whether they’re equally the right fit for you. At the end of your interview, you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. This demonstrates passion and a desire to learn more about the company so again it’s worth giving these some thought in advance; I’ve even experienced instances where this has been the only differentiator between two candidates and decided who received the final job offer.

Typical Interview Question & How to Answer

What kind of questions will you be asked and how can you answer them? An important thing to remember when thinking about your potential questions and answers is to try and be relevant. 
Before your interview, identify some examples of how you’ve some key skills previously and then relate them back to the role you’re interviewing for. The best way to answer interview questions well is just by practising with your friends and family. 

The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to speak about your skills confidently and clearly. And remember, if you’re asked a tricky question, it’s fine to pause before answering, so don’t be afraid to say “that’s a good question, do you mind if I take a moment to think about that?”

Below we’ve put a list together of the most common interview questions that you might come across.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself

This is one of the typical questions you will be asked at an interview, usually the first question you might be asked as the interviewer eases you both into the process. It should be a short round up of your skills, knowledge and experience and how you think these fit with the role you’ve applied for. Focus on your successes and how they can set you apart from other candidates. 

2. Why did you apply for the role?

You will need to show that you have researched the role thoroughly and that your skills are well matched to carry out the job. Ideally you well have been provided with a thorough Job Specification; try and relate your answers back to the key points in the brief. Focus in on how the role and the company will help you achieve your goals and aspirations and what you can offer the company, demonstrating how your skill set is well suited. What aspects of the job interests you and what examples have you got to demonstrate your suitability?

3. What are your strengths?

What can you bring to the table? What will demonstrate that you can solve the company’s problem and fulfil the job’s key requirements? The important part when listing your strengths is to back them up with examples and make yourself stand out from other candidates. 

4. What are your weaknesses?

Saying you don’t have any will come across as arrogant or dishonest! Ensure you turn your weaknesses into positives, giving examples of how you have taken steps to improve and build upon them, and how that will be of benefit to the company.

5. Why should we hire you / What can you offer that somebody else can’t?

Time for a personal sales pitch! Make sure you understand the job description and the reasons why the company has the vacancy in the first place. Then position yourself as the person who can meet their criteria and be the best possible fit.

6. Why are you leaving your current role?

Do not criticise your current employer, even if that seems tempting, and do not lie. Instead of focussing on any negative aspects, be positive and concentrate on the future – whether that be that you’re looking for a new challenge or you want career progression, and that you believe this opportunity will help fulfil those requirements.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Be ambitious and passionate but don’t be unrealistic. This is the perfect question for the interviewer to gauge your ambition and your goals. It is really important that your answer marries up with the company too, along with the job on offer, and that it isn’t a generic response – another reiteration of how important it is that you do your research on the company and the job to ensure your answer matches the company’s goals and ambitions. Additionally bear in mind that the answer needs to be tailored to the job level, depending on whether the role is junior, mid or senior level.

8. Can you give an example of when you have had to cope with a difficult situation?

Another very common question and helps the interviewer grasp how you deal with pressure and tricky situations and how calm you can remain. Have you ever handled an unexpected problem or a crisis? Have you had to deal with tricky people? What obstacles did you face? How did you cope? What actions did you take? How do you act when you’re under pressure? It is important to make sure your answers explain how you resolved the issues and turned the situation into a positive result.

9. What is your greatest achievement?

Your answer should demonstrate skills that are relevant to the job you have applied for, be positive and showcase what values you can bring to the company. If this is your first step on the career ladder and you do not have any past experiences you can talk about, then steer the conversation around what you want to achieve – and what you think you can achieve – for the company. Employers are looking for the candidate with the right attitude, the right work ethic and the right core values who will be the right fit for the role.

10. What are your salary expectations?

Is there a salary mentioned in the job description? Research average salaries for the type of role you’ve applied for and the industry it’s in and use that as a benchmark. Whilst it’s an uncomfortable question to answer sometimes, it’s important not to undervalue yourself or give too high a figure that could rule you out of the role.

Questions to ask at the interview

Although questions may arise naturally during the course of the interview, inevitably, the interview will ask you if you have any questions for them at the end of their questions. Do not say no! Instead, prepare ahead, thinking about questions that will cover the role or how or if it will develop down the line. This will make you look engaged and enthusiastic and gives another chance to showcase your skills, experience and suitability for the role. 

Some examples of what to ask can include:

  • What are the day to day responsibilities of the role?
  • What do you think the biggest challenges of the job are?
  • How could I impress you in the first three months?
  • What’s the best part of working for the company?
  • What do you enjoy about your job?
  • Where do you think the department /company will be in 5 years’ time?
  • What are the training or career progression opportunities?
  • Is there anything else you would like me to give more details on, or know about me?

This part of the interview is also an opportunity to close the interviewee by asking questions such as “Is there any reason why I wouldn’t be taken to the next stage?” Questions of this type shows confidence and reaffirms your interest in the role.


To sum up, the key points to remember are to prepare and research as much as you possibly can. You can never be underprepared. Be confident, use real examples, and always keep the job description in mind and the skills required when you relay your answers to the interviewer. And try and remain calm and focussed throughout, although we know this is easier said than done sometimes!

At Linear, we operate across eight different sectors – Rail, Power & Infrastructure, Construction, Trades & Labour, Industrial & Engineering, Design & Consultancy and Industrial Automation. Across these sectors we help support all our candidates throughout the recruitment process including help and advice with interviews, CV preparation and career advice to ensure you are as prepared as possible for your next career move.

Why not take a look at our current vacancies to see if there are any suited to you, or get in touch with us to see how we could help you?