Remove the stress from interviews with this A4 pad

Remove the stress from interviews with this A4 pad

 3 Jan 2018

Please raise your hand if interviews fill you with dread,

When you sit in the hot seat, all the information that you had crammed into your head about the company trickles out in the sweat from your pours. The well thought out questions you had evaporate into thin air, or worse yet get answered during the interview leaving you with nothing at the “have you got any questions for us?” stage of the meeting!

Well there is good news Interviewing doesn’t have to be that daunting, with the right preparation and planning you can interview with intention and ace your interview.

At the end of this blog post you will have a framework and a plan to help you have a constructive and positive interview.


Here is what I would recommend, to increase your chances of getting an offer from your next interview.

What to take with you.

  • Make sure that you take an A4 pad (a clean, new one) and pen, this will contain your battle plan for the interview.
  • Two copies of your CV (other people may join the interview, best to be prepared)
  • A copy of the job spec
  • Photo ID (You may get asked for this at security)
  • What to write on the A4 Pad?

This Pad will serve as your plan, offering up talking points, information and evidence.

We are going to divide the page into sections

  • About the company
  • About me
  • About the job
  • STAR
  • Questions

About the Company

This information will serve to answer the question “What do you know about us”. One of the biggest turn-offs for hiring managers at interview, is when a candidate can’t answer this question, it makes the interviewer think that you haven’t prepared and that you aren’t bothered about the role

So, take some time to research the company and find out the following:

  • How big is the company globally?
  • How many sites do they have in the UK?
  • What does the company manufacture?
  • Who are their clients?
  • What is their mission statement?
  • BONUS Is there any recent positive news about the company (google)

About me

The information you compile here will help you to answer the “Tell us about you” section of the interview. The interviewer is looking for a 3 minute maximum monologue about you on a professional level, I could give you horror stories of candidates that have delved in to a twisting, turning 40 minute manifesto about themselves and their beliefs and why they are the best person for the role.

Use these bullet points to help you build a short and concise pitch about yourself

  • When did you get into engineering?
  • How long have you been using the skills required for the role you are interviewing?
  • What are you doing in your work right now on a day to day basis
  • What do you enjoy about your work?

About the job

Another major issue hiring managers have at interview state, is candidates who don’t know anything about the role. Saying that you don’t know anything and asking the interviewer to tell you about it, will make is seem as if you haven’t prepared or just don’t know what you are doing.

So, here we will put some bullet points down about the job, you will be able to get this information from the job spec (Hopefully you will have a copy from your recruiter, be able to download it from the company’s website, or ask the friendly HR contact to email a copy to you prior to the interview) This will act as a jumping off point to discuss the role

  • Job title
  • A summary of the purpose of the role
  • Summary of the day to day duties
  • A summary of the requirements of the role



Situation. Task. Action. Results

This is a great way to answer competency based questions. The interviewer will ask these questions to gain an insight into your experience and try to understand if you are a good fit for the role. You will need to give full and detailed answers to ensure you get your experience across.

 These could sound like

  • “Can you tell me a time when you have X?”
  • “Do you have experience of Y”
  • “What would you do in Z situation”

I could write a whole blog post on this subject and will, but for now you can see examples, here and here.


The, “so, do you have any questions for us” section is a golden opportunity to demonstrate that you are actively engaged in the interview, interested in the role and company and a great time for you to get a feel for the business. Your questions should be relevant and specific to the role and company, you could use these as a framework:

  • What needs to be achieved in the first 3, 6 , 12 months of someone starting in this role?
  • Can you describe the team I’ll be working in?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the department?
  • What are the biggest opportunities the department has?
  • Where could I be in 2 /  3 years time?
  • What is the companies attitude towards X (Quality, Continuous improvement, Lean Manufacturing, 5S, Customer problems)
  • What do you like about working here?
  • Can you tell me any success stories of people that have started in this department?
  • What would you say the company does better than its competitors?
  • What plans for expansion does the company have

Make sure you write your questions down on your pad, this will help you to remember them, but also if the interviewer answers your questions during the interviewer, you can at least prove to them that you had thought of questions prior to coming to the meeting.

Have all these sections mapped out on your pad and bullet pointed, for you to refer to during your interview. Don’t be afraid to take notes whilst the interviewer is giving you information too.

Now you should be all set with a framework for the interview. Preparing, will give you confidence, help organize your thoughts and demonstrate your interest in the position.

Here is how the pad should look.


Great information and advice! Thanks.
Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 19:50 by Philip Todd
Love the first blog Darren!
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:13 by Joanne Causer

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