How to Prepare for an Interview and the Difference it can Make

Rutherford Cross consultant Harry Thomson discusses the value of preparing for an interview and the best ways to go about it.

Interviews can be very nerve-wracking situations, not just because you are forced to tell a stranger about your knowledge and why you think that you are the best candidate for the role, but also because it could mean the difference between you securing a move in your career or remaining where you are.

Whether it is your first interview or your tenth, it is natural to feel apprehensive. Throughout this article, we will look at the steps you can take to prepare ahead of time and make the interview flow more naturally.

Dress to Impress

It is important to present yourself in the best light possible when making a first impression, as this helps get the conversation off on the right foot. It is worth having a look on the company’s website and social media to see if you can get a feel for what would be appropriate dress attire. If in doubt, air on the side of caution and dress smartly to impress and ensure that you are presentable.

Do your Research

It is essential to research the company you are interviewing with prior to interview in order to understand the type of business that they are and the types of activities that they engage in. This helps you highlight to the interviewer that you have done your research on the business.

Making a First Impression


When you arrive, the first person, you meet might not necessarily be the person who is interviewing you. It is important to remember that once you enter the building there are a variety of different stakeholders who can in theory contribute to the decision-making process. Therefore, it is important to be respectful and approachable to everyone you meet along the way.

For some interviewers, this might be the first time that they have conducted an interview and they might be a bit nervous about the interview themselves. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to get the ball rolling.

Eye contact is key, be sure to try and maintain eye contact as much as possible throughout the process. If there are multiple interviewers, try to divide your attention equally amongst everyone as best you can.


Much of the above remains relevant to the virtual side, with just a few further things to consider when preparing.

If you can, choose a well-lit location that has a static background and minimal background noise, this can help the interviewer as they are less likely to get distracted by things moving around in the background.

It is also worthwhile testing your camera, microphone and internet connection prior to going into the interview. This way you can have peace of mind that once you are on the call you shouldn’t have any unexpected problems arise.

Showcasing your Experience

Interviewers will often ask you to provide examples across a number of different scenarios that are designed to get you thinking and showcase your experience. For example, you may be asked, “Tell me about a time when you had to complete a set of accounts within a tight deadline” or “Describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult client in a previous role”.

When questions such as this arise that you may find difficult to answer, the STAR interview technique can be a really good way of breaking down your answer to provide a more well-rounded response.

STAR stands for:

Situation – Briefly describe the scenario that you were in

Task – Explain the task you needed to perform and why you needed to do this

Action – Outline how you responded to the task and the actions you made

Result – Explain what happened as the result of the action you took

Using the STAR interview technique enables you to keep your answers concise and to the point, ensuring that the interviewers can gain a good understanding of your experience.


Most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. This is a chance for you to gain a greater insight into the business culture and the role that you are interviewing for, and show that you have fully researched the company and the role you are interviewing for. It can also provide an opportunity to build a better rapport with the interviewers and develop more of a two-way conversation.

At this point, it is good to avoid asking about anything that is already clearly stated in the job description or asking about the salary as this should have already been covered by your recruitment consultant.

Some examples of questions to ask your interviewer include:

  • What do you expect the successful candidate to be achieving in this role 6 months down the line?
  • What do you envision the biggest challenges that someone in this role will need to overcome?
  • What does a typical day in this role look like?
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • Should I be successful, what do the next steps look like?
  • What do you enjoy about working for the company?

After the Interview – Next Steps

If you have applied for a role through Rutherford Cross, you should call your consultant post-interview to debrief and have a chat about how you thought it went and to ask any questions that you feel as though you would like further information on.

This also gives you a chance to mention anything that you feel didn’t go as planned and that you wish you could change as we can sometimes negate this on your behalf.

Your recruiter will then liaise with the hiring manager within the organisation you interviewed with and provide you with any feedback or next steps.

As recruitment consultants, we want to help you do the best you possibly can and make a successful move in your career. If you are considering your next career opportunity within accounting and finance reach out to [email protected] for a confidential discussion with one of our consultants.