Eight things to help you bring your A-game to your next job interview

Betsy Williamson, Managing Director of Core-Asset Consulting

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TALENT finders for some of Scotland’s most highly-charged employment sectors have created a checklist to help hopeful job applicants improve their chances of success.

Core-Asset Consulting fills many of the biggest and most lucrative posts in the country’s booming accountancy, finance and legal sectors. However, the £10m-a-year company says its guide of eight must-bring interview items will work for any level of job hunter from those at entry level to high-powered executives.

The list has been created from the firm’s contact with thousands of job-seekers. As well as top tips, Core-Asset has included advice on what to avoid during job interviews – revealing that feckless wannabes have even turned up for appointments with bags full of shopping.

The first months of the year are a critical time for job hunters, especially February and March, where notices have come to an end following a post-festive resignation, or the “one last go” fails to materialise. 

Betsy Williamson, Managing Director at Core-Asset Consulting, said: “We get more questions about interviews than anything else, so hopefully this guide can help settle a few of those initial nerves.

“Right at the top of our list is that any interviewee should have clear directions so they know exactly where they are going. It’s amazing how many people mess this up and turn up late.

“Nothing sets a worse example than being late for a job interview. It screams that the person isn’t really interested or very reliable. Always aim to arrive to an interview at least 10 minutes early. Having clear directions and knowing exactly where you are heading makes this much easier.”

The other top tips on the Core-Asset Consulting list of items to bring to an interview include:

  • WATER – Nerves during an interview can cause a dry throat, so being prepared with a water bottle is helpful. Taking a sip can also buy time when trying to gather your thoughts to answer a difficult question. Use a reusable water bottle, since many firms are committed to tackling single use plastics.
  • NOTEPAD AND PEN – Having a few important points written down helps you feel calm and prepared. Jotting down key notes during the interview will show you are engaged and help you remember important information. However, don’t forget to maintain eye contact.
  • COPIES OF YOUR CV – You must be comfortable talking about your skills and experience without aids. But having copies of your CV shows foresight and preparation, especially if your interviewer doesn’t have it to hand. Bring up to four copies in case of a panel interview.
  • EXAMPLES OF YOUR WORK – Particularly important for positions which involve creating visuals or writing content. A neat and well-organised portfolio gives tangible evidence of your skills. If the interview doesn’t require evidence, have a “mental checklist” of your relevant accomplishments.
  • IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS – If you have been asked to bring specific documents – such as you Passport or other photo ID – bring the originals, as well as copies to leave behind.
  • QUESTIONS – Don’t leave all the questions to the interviewer. Having your own questions could help you impress and land the job. Having two or three questions prepared in advance will demonstrate that you’ve done your research and are passionate about the role.
  • A SMILE AND ENTHUSIASM – A smile is all too easy to forget in a high-stakes or high-pressure situation. But it will help you come across as friendly, personable and engaged.

Betsy added: “Enthusiasm might be the final item on the list, but it is the most important. Your attitude in an interview affects the outcome. If you are interested in the job, why not show it?”

Core-Asset also advises job applicants to bring along the essentials in a smart folder or bag, so they are neat, orderly and easy to access. As well as the list of dos to help interviewees be prepared, Core-Asset has also come up with a list of the top three don’ts – which can scupper hopes of landing a dream new job. The items to leave behind are:

  • MOBILE PHONE – A major turn off for interviewers is an applicant who keeps checking their phone – or whose mobile rings during the process. Core-Asset say it is vital to ensure your phone is switched to silent and kept in a pocket or bag for the duration of the interview.
  • SHOPPING – Turning up with shopping bags is guaranteed to leave interviewers unimpressed. Leave shopping bags in your car, or better still don’t go shopping until after your interview.
  • FOOD AND DRINK – While having a bottle of water is sensible, showing up for your interview with snacks, a packed lunch or a takeaway coffee is a no-no. It is likely to prove distracting

Betsy added: “It never ceases to amaze us how many applicants unwittingly shoot themselves in the foot in these ways – without ever realising where they went wrong.

“Having your phone ring in an interview is a huge distraction and can also be seen as disrespectful. Bringing in your takeaway coffee or your shopping bags can also appear unprofessional. Why sink your chances of a job when these banana skins are so easily avoided?”

Core-Asset Consulting is dedicated to financial and professional services in Scotland. Launched by Betsy Williamson in 2015, it built its reputation in Scotland’s asset management sector before branching out to offer clients tailored solutions for permanent, temporary, contract and interim positions in a variety of sectors.


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