Browse Category: interview coaching

Interview preparation coaching is personal

There are many brilliant things about my job. Campaigning is great fun and helping businesses and charities develop and deliver their stories is challenging and rewarding. But helping candidates prepare for interviews has to be the best part of my job. Getting the jubilant text or phone call is one hell of a buzz – whether it’s from a graduate getting their first job or an established executive making a successful career change.

What is quite funny is that no-one is ever “cool” about getting a new job. Both first-timers and alleged grown-ups totally lose any semblance of composure when they contact me – they generally sound as if they are bouncing around on a pogo stick. Interview preparation is so personal, so immediate, so black and white – it’s simple. Like sport. You win or lose. You punch the air or you are thrown to the floor. My stomach always cramps when I see an incoming call from a client after they have come out of an interview or in the weeks afterwards – I know that I will either be celebrating or consoling.

Yesterday I received this testimonial from a client – he had applied for a job, got it and also negotiated a great package. In fairness he was a great candidate in every way – but like most candidates he wasn’t great at telling his story at all. He was so delighted when he called me that he sounded like a kid who had overdosed on jelly babies and he gave me a fantastic and symbolic thank you gift as well! I was over the moon too – a happy day all round!

“Peter was an OUTSTANDING and no-nonsense coach. He showed me how to sell my experience at an interview. The interview. For THAT job. Investing in Peter’s coaching obviously worked because I was successful and am absolutely over the moon with my new role. He also guided me through the process of negotiating my salary up which saw an increase of over 35%. I would highly recommend using Peter if you are seeking a new role.”

Head of Public Affairs at a FTSE 100 company.

intensive interview preparation

Intensive Career Coaching – Another interview preparation client gets their first job

It was only Friday when I wrote here about a career coaching client sending me an excited email that they they had got the job. Today I received another email from a client. He had been sent to see me by his parents for my intensive career coaching interview preparation to help him succeed in his first “proper” job search.

Hi Peter,

Just wanted to let you know that you’ve done it again! Went for the interview this morning at half 8, finished by 10 and just got a call ten minutes ago saying that they are going to be making an offer! Thank you so much for your help, it really sorted me out and helped me understand where best to focus my prep work….

This guy had passed a telephone interview, helped apparently by my guide, How To Survive (and Win) a Telephone Interview. Then he was invited to an assessment day and today he had his first face to face interview. Which he got. In fact, he had only just got home from the interview when the phone rang to say the company was going to make him an offer! As he said, winning 1 out of 1 interviews is not a bad ratio!

I often only hear about it indirectly but sometimes, like today, I get a proper insight into how getting That Email can affect the candidate and his or her family. His mother was at the shops when she got the text and started texting her friends in the shop aisle – her shopping basket abandoned at her feet. The father, also a client, was on his way back from a (successful) pitch and decided to come straight home afterwards to celebrate with the family. The girlfriend got a jumbled, excited and exuberant voicemail and text and the dog that the family was dog-sitting started yapping wildly as my client bounced noisily around the house.

All of this, instead of option 2: – waiting 3 days and then getting a “Thank you but no thank you..” email….

I work in politics where spin is too often the order of the day. So I am super-careful about making claims for fear of “over-egging” things. But on days like this, getting an excited email and then having a 20 minute jubilant debrief and rejoicing with the client about their new job and reliving and wallowing in bits of the interview and the interview preparation and the coaching and the “journey” and the excited reactions of family and friends is mega. And getting that email is, for the client, literally life changing. The first job defines your career starting point. It kick-starts your working trajectory. “Start well and build” is what every parent wants for their kids. It is great to be a part of these moments.




intensive interview preparation

A persistent career client gets The Email. Getting the job you want

I got an email yesterday. It screamed at me in capitals.


What a great email to get. But how much better it would have been for my client to write that email? Getting the job you want is tricky at the best of times – but if it has been a little while coming it is like magic when you get the letter or the email.

intensive interview preparationJob hunting is a tough gig. CV writing, research, covering letters and then the waiting. The waiting is what gets to my clients the most. The life-stopping holding of your breath while paper is slowly sifted – so slowly. Someone told me about having had no receipt acknowledgements to 28 job applications. Those “thank you but” responses are horrible and often plastic – sometimes rude. And the waiting goes on.

But after preparation and work – lots of it – and a bunch of persistence you get The Email. Getting The Email or The Letter makes spirits soar and transforms lives, moods and auras. You can almost smell success and failure. Self-named losers become winners in seconds, the impossible becomes reality and the horizon opens up.

Accompanying my clients on this traumatic, emotional roller coaster can be exhausting – but the celebrations are superb. This client has had a hard time which makes the win even sweeter. He has been looking for a job for a while now and it was tough. But he kept going, he kept getting up in the morning and he kept applying and writing CVs and covering letters and emails – he got smart and he went for haircuts and he did not give up. Like anyone in that position he had doubts and frustrations – but he kept going. Well done that man!

Now I have a question – do I give my client a bottle of that amazing red wine I have called Extra Ordinary Claret or do I get him a bottle of Champagne?

Graduate Interview Preparation: Struggling To Find A Job?

Interview Preparation for Graduates in London

graduate interview preparation Have you recently graduated from university and struggling to find a job? It’s tough out there. Sometimes  just landing a job interview can be tricky, so once you’ve secured one, make sure you are seen as the star candidate.

Your first job – become a sales person

Sales people want one thing – they want their customers to say YES.

This is exactly the same for you or any graduate looking for a your first ‘proper’ job after university. Your first job is to become a sales person. The YES decision you want is the employer thinking you are the best candidate for the job.

You should be selling yourself during the entire job search process, beginning with the words in your CV, continuing through to the interview, salary negotiation and your acceptance of the job. You are constantly revealing information about yourself and putting forward  a picture of yourself with words – you are selling yourself.

You only have one chance to land your dream job – so prepare for it

I have helped hundreds of clients prepare for interviews. My clients have included career changers, senior  executives, prospective Members of Parliament and graduates.

I coach graduates just like you in 1-2-1 Graduate Interview Preparation courses in London and in Sussex – and 9 out of 10 of my graduate interview clients get jobs.

Graduate Interview Preparation

After my 1-2-1 graduate interview preparation course (and after doing the homework – sorry!)  you will express yourself more clearly and with more confidence. You will also know the answers to most questions before they hit you and you’ll be ready for them. The more confident you feel, the bigger the impact you will make during the interview. If you leave a strong (positive) impression,  you will be more likely to be considered a strong contender for the job. Being forgettable sucks.

For more information about my Graduate Interview Preparation, get in touch:

Office: + 44 1424 733 000 | Email:

Interview questions

Crowd-sourcing Interview Questions

Interview tips and tricks sound like an attractive quick fix and of course there are things you can do at the last minute. But nothing replaces the power of simple hard work and preparation for all the likely interview questions.

So can you help? I am trying to put together a comprehensive list of likely interview questions for my interview preparation clients. If you add (or email me)  any questions that I have missed in the comments section, I will add them to the correct category (crediting you unless you say otherwise) – or start a new category.

Interview questions about the company

  1. Why did you choose us? Why do you want to work for us?
  2. What do you know about our business?
  3. Who are our competitors and why?
  4. What threats and opportunities do we face?
  5. Why did you choose this sector?
  6. Which trends influence our sector and can you describe them?
  7. Tell me about the broader issues the economy is currently facing.
  8. What factors have affected UK businesses in the last three years?
  9. Describe a current issue in the (our) business world?
  10. What do you think  you will be doing during your first year?
  11. Describe the job as you see it?
  12. Give an example of a company that you believe has the potential to grow and why?
  13. Give an example of a company that has grown a lot in the last couple of years, and what would you advise them to do next?
  14. What problems do you think professional services firms are facing today?

Interview questions about you?

  1. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Where do you see yourself in the next 10/15/20 years?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. Describe how you see the role.
  4. If your tasks have become a daily routine, how would you keep yourself motivated
  5. Which of your recent achievements have you been most proud of?  What are your proudest achievements in the past two years?
  6. Describe a time when you had a setback and picked yourself up?
  7. Tell me about a time you have under performed or not met your targets, why was this? What have you learnt from this?
  8. What hobbies do you have? What new hobby or activity have you taken up in the last 2 years? What do you do in your spare time?
  9. What is your greatest weakness? What are your three biggest weaknesses? Do you have any weaknesses?
  10. What is your greatest strength? What are  your three biggest strengths?What do you consider to be your strengths?
  11. What are your major achievements to date?
  12. Name four role models who influence you? Who would you like to meet in the business world?
  13. What is the biggest mistake you have made? What did you learn from this mistake?
  14. Tell me a time when you had to perform on your own?
  15. Tell me about a time where you had to meet a number of competing deadlines
  16. Why are you the best person for the job? What is your USP?

Interview Questions about your University and your course and qualifications

  1. Why did you choose this course and university?
  2. Tell us about your course
  3. Looking back – are you pleased with your academic results?
  4. What would you have done differently?

Interview Questions about how you handle stress

  1. How do you deal with stress?
  2. When have you worked under pressure. How did you cope under pressure? What was the outcome of this pressure situation?
  3. Tell me about a difficult experience at work and how you dealt with it.

Interview Questions about teamwork and management

  1. Give me an example of when you’ve worked in a team. What was your role in the team?
  2. Do you have any leadership experience?
  3. If a team member disagrees with you, how did you handle that? As a leader and as a colleague? If this has happened to you – what was the outcome?
  4. Do you make your opinions known when you disagree with the views of your supervisor? How do you do this?
  5. One of your senior colleagues who have recently joined the project team that you have been working on was asked to observe you in a presentation that you will be making in front of the clients. During the presentation, the colleague questioned your methodology, what would you do?
  6. Tell me a time when you had to accommodate a difference of opinion when working a team.

Interviews can give you nightmares

It is often hard to get to sleep the night before an interview. The next day could literally change your life. That is one of the great things about what I do – my clients come to me to prepare for events that could change their lives. Getting a job, getting selected as a candidate, getting elected to office, getting promoted, buying or selling a business, or pitching for and getting a new big counteract – all of these are life changing events for the people involved. It is a privilege to be part of my client’s lives at these important moments – but it is also nerve-wracking.

So what happens if you have an interview tomorrow? What can you do to improve your chances of changing your life?

  1. Re-read the advert, the job description and the description of what and who they are looking for. They have spent time writing that advert – you would be a fool not to take it seriously and not to re-read it the evening before the interview. If I sound like that annoying teacher from school who says read the question before you start writing – good! If you have done research – re-read it. If you haven’t – do some. Quickly. In the interview you need to focus on what is relevant to them – nothing else.
  2. You should know three point answers to the most basic three interview questions: Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you? and (the most harmless sounding, yet the most dangerous of them all) “Tell us about yourself.”.
  3. Ignore your CV and don’t refer to it. Your covering letter and your CV got you in the room and are your business card and your introducer. But now YOU have to be “in the room” and you need to shine alone. Talk to the other humans in the room like they are humans – have a conversation with them. Keep your comments tight and don’t witter on with unnecessary details and rubbish – but speak to them like one person speaking to other people.
  4. Dress smartly, breathe from the bottom of your belly and smile when you are speaking. Look and sound as if you actually want the job. THis might win you the interview.
  5. Use case studies from your personal experience rather than empty claims. Why should they believe your claims to be hard working, conscientious, honest, brilliant? Claims are discarded – case studies and evidence stick.


interview preparation

Interview techniques – coaching in Sussex and London: Best of both worlds

Location is an important factor when it comes to coaching interview techniques for political or corporate interviews and my clients have the best of both worlds. I usually coach clients at my home close to the beach in Sussex or in London. A lunchtime walk along the Bexhill seafront has cleared the head of many a client – and me. I have had clients come and stay with me from America, Europe and the Middle East – and they all say that they like, and profit from, the relaxed and non-corporate surroundings. I only coach individuals and the process can be very intensive. Having a comfortable and informal venue and a fresh environment, with no interruptions, helps with focusing on and achieving a client’s particular interview preparation needs and goals.

However, because of my political and corporate work I also have a base in London. I mainly work in clients’ boardrooms or meeting rooms and sometimes in their homes – which saves them travel time but eliminates think-time after the coaching session. When clients leave Bexhill I ask them to avoid using the phone or the internet or iPods and just to let their brain process what we have done during the coaching session. The brain works – but it needs free space before it starts whirring away.

Sometimes I actively ask to use the client’s home turf as a venue if I need to understand more about the real person behind the project, but of course coaching a client in their territory only works if they are able to focus and switch off or eliminate interruptions during the coaching session.

No matter where I’m working, the best part of the process for me is hearing about your success as a candidate. When the interview preparation works! It’s a huge adrenalin punch-the-air kick for me when clients get selected as a parliamentary candidate,  even better when they get elected as an MP. But there is nothing quite like sharing the excitement of someone getting their first job!

Last week a client messaged me excitedly on Facebook to tell me that he had got the second job he had applied for after our interview coaching session only two weeks earlier. What a buzz! I love that. Coaching is such an excellent job!

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