“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

Benjamin Franklin

Never has the old adage been more appropriate than when thinking about interviewing. Many things about the interview process have changed or evolved in response to the global pandemic, including the inclusion and often used virtual interview. However, the importance of preparation remains a vital step. 

Whilst the interview is an opportunity to learn more about the role and your potential new employer, it is important to make a strong first impression.

Take a look at our helpful tips on how you can prepare for an interview and ensure that you stand out from the other applicants.

Understand The Job

Read through the job specification again and ensure you thoroughly understand any qualifications, qualities and background the employer is looking for. This will help you determine your previous experience and exactly what you wish to demonstrate in the interview.

Make notes on key points or where you have any questions about the role or company. 


Look at their company website, key personnel, social media platforms and note down any relevant information to have with you for the interview. Find out about:

  • Vision / Mission / Values / Purpose 
  • Key selling points and differentiators 
  • Key specialism and area of expertise
  • Service offerings
  • Geographical coverage 
  • Key milestones achieved 
  • Key messaging on social media / current campaigns

Your CV 

To help you prepare for an interview, it’s good practice to read through your CV. Do this prior to the interview and make sure you are aware of the information you have included. The interviewer will likely ask you to talk them through your CV. Decide which areas you wish to focus on and which parts can be skimmed over if less relevant to the role.


Come to the interview with some well prepared questions that demonstrate your interest and intent for the company and role. An employer will often ask if you have any questions, so make sure you have a list of about 3-5 questions (possibly more depending on the situation).


Face to Face: Plan your journey beforehand and leave plenty of time to get there early. If you are unable to demonstrate good timekeeping, you will be on the back foot for the rest of the interview. It is better to arrive early, be able to grab a coffee and mentally prepare yourself for the interview ahead.    

Depending on your mode of transport, there are some great journey planner and travel apps to assist your preparation.

Telephone: Make sure you are somewhere quiet with good phone reception. Set up a space where you can focus and have a surface where you can keep any documents to hand or write notes. Make sure any other devices are on silent/do not disturb and make sure you pick up the first call.   

Video: Test your camera and microphone set up before your meeting. Do a couple of test runs with the specific software being used to become familiar with the software. Often you can open the interview link early to test your camera and mic. Make sure you are in a quiet location with strong wifi signal and good lighting so you can be clearly seen. Make sure your background is suitable and you are well presented. Click the link in good time to make sure you do not miss the meeting. 

First Impression 

First impressions are key in all walks of life, especially interviews. Ask the employer or recruiter (if you’re speaking with one) what the dress code is so you can dress appropriately. If it is face to face, be early for the meeting and enter with a firm handshake whilst maintaining eye contact throughout the interview. Non-verbal communication can be just as important as anything you say, so use confident, accessible body language. Smile frequently, maintain a good posture and stay relaxed.

If the meeting is virtual, even though you may not be able to be seen, your posture dictates a lot about how your voice is perceived. Make sure if seated, you are comfortable, and sitting upright (not slumped).

Consider your answers

Though it’s hard to know exactly what questions you’ll be asked, you can prepare for your interview by considering how you will answer. Ensure you respond truthfully, tying your answers back to any key skills and accomplishments. Keep your answers short and focused on the question you’ve been asked, to avoid rambling and going off topic.

As much as possible, avoid speaking negatively about your current or former employers/colleagues. Your new employer will be looking for a positive approach and ability to overcome challenges. Even if you’re feeling discouraged, try to explore the good things, what you’ve learned and what you’ve gained from your experience.


The final part of the interview is a great opportunity for you to close the client/sell yourself so don’t be afraid to ask how they felt the interview went. Did they have any reservations? What are the next stages? These will give you clarity and further opportunity to shut down any of their reservations.

Advance TRS

For more helpful interview tips, and job search advice check out our other Advance Advice articles.

We have a variety of opportunities available on our job boards and a team of talented consultants to speak to on 01483 361 061.

“Do you have any questions?” It’s asked at the end of every job interview, and your answer should always be yes. if you haven’t prepared for this interview question, it can catch you off-guard.

When preparing for an interview, you should always come up with a list of questions to ask the interviewer. They help to make you come across as interested in the business and the role, enthusiastic and engaged. Come up with about 5-7 questions to ask, just in case they have already been answered during the interview.

When preparing your list try to avoid asking questions that only require a yes or no answer, and steer clear of questions around salary and holiday allowance, at least for the time being – those points can be discussed once you receive a job offer. 

If you need some inspiration, we have listed some good questions to ask at an interview below.

Where do you see the company heading in the next five years?

Asking this should give you an insight into the company’s progression plans and its place in the market, and possibly give you an idea about any major upcoming projects. Asking this question shows a real interest in the organisation.

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?

Asking these questions provides you with an opportunity to gain an insight into what skills and experience are needed. It will also give you an idea of what the employer’s expectations are, and ultimately help you decide if the role is right for you. 

Are there opportunities for further training? 

This shows that you want to expand on your knowledge and demonstrates that you’re serious about your career.

What are the opportunities for progression within the company?

If you are looking for a long-term career within the company, asking this question will help you find out whether this is the business for you. 

Can you tell me more about the culture of the organisation?

A good working environment is important and asking this question will give you the opportunity to find out whether you’ll fit in.

How could I impress you in the first three months?

This is a great one to ask at the end of a job interview. It shows potential employers that you’re eager to make a positive contribution to the organisation.

Join us! 

As a rapidly growing recruitment business, we have fantastic opportunities for career development. We pride ourselves on rewarding success and promoting from within. However, we are always looking for new talent to further strengthen and expand our teams.

As recruiters, we really understand that talented and motivated staff is the key to any successful business. To help us develop our team into the best they can be, all staff receive invaluable mentorship from our experienced senior leaders and are able to shape a clear career path bespoke to them, mapping out potential routes of progression within the company.

Our dedication to creating a fantastic working environment was recognised at the 2018 Toast of Surrey Business Awards when we were announced as Employer of the Year and Leadership Team of the Year.

As a rapidly growing recruitment business, continuing to improve equality, diversity and inclusion is vital to us at Advance TRS. We always strive to create a working environment that is free from discrimination and promotes equal opportunities for all, and we work with our clients to help them do the same. 

In a series of interviews we have spoken to some of the talented women working at Advance TRS and asked them what challenges they might have faced in their careers so far and what advice they would give other women wanting to start working in their sectors.

In this part of the blog series we spoke to Senior Resourcer Emily and Client Services Delivery Manager Louise.

What made you want to start a career in your sector? 

Louise: I have always worked in a sales environment ever since finishing college, and I thrive on working towards a target and being driven by earning commission. The last 10 years have been in the recruitment sector and I would never look back. It can be a rollercoaster ride, the highs are high but the lows can be really low. However for me, I wouldn’t change it as being rewarded for working hard is what motivates me every day. I have always been competitive whether that be in sports or work and enjoy the challenge of constantly pushing myself to be better.

Emily: I’ve always been interested in a career in recruitment, it’s always seemed like a job I wanted to do. The role itself is rewarding in so many ways; you’re given great career development opportunities, you get to help people reach their career goals, you have the incentive of earning additional income by working hard. Working in rail wasn’t something I initially ever saw myself being capable of doing, but it’s been great learning about an interesting sector that was brand new to me. I think the best and honest way to describe being in recruitment is that it’s a feast and famine environment but the good massively outweighs the bad because there is so much reward in doing well. 

Is there anyone that inspires you in your career? 

Louise: You always look up to the “top billers” within the company and strive to get closer to them. Obviously our MD Andy is a huge inspiration as he has taken Advance TRS from nothing to where we are today. I also admire our Finance Director Carolyn, as she has made her way to a Board Director position through her hard work and commitment to the company and as the only female Director she of course is also inspiring to me!

Emily: Everyone at Advance TRS inspires me. Everyone has achieved something and it’s great to see others doing well as it’s a great insight into the potential your career has.

If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why? 

Louise: My nan, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce

Emily: Princess Diana, Kim Kardashian, my Auntie 

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering a career in your sector? 

Louise: You have to be thick skinned to work in recruitment, strong willed and persistent. Never give up and even if you get knocked back pick yourself up and try again

Emily: Stay positive, trust in yourself and be confident in your work, always be willing to pick yourself back up after a setback and not let it affect you and don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you? 

Louise: I think it’s very important for women to support other women, we should embrace each other’s strengths and not feel threatened or jealous but be proud of each other.

Emily: It is extremely important for women to feel empowered and to empower other women in return, It’s the greatest gift we can give each other and it doesn’t cost a penny.

How do you find being a woman working in your sector? 

Louise: Being in recruitment, it is quite a male-driven environment, particularly with the sectors we work in, so it can be tough as you do find you are the minority but the key is to stand strong and don’t be a pushover. Also it’s nice giving the boys a run for their money too!! (Nothing like a bit of healthy competition)

At Advance TRS we are always looking for talented and driven new team members. If this is you and you would like to work for a business that values its employees’ contribution to its success then we would love to hear from you!

To find out more about our current opportunities, visit our careers page, or for a discrete conversation, contact Paul Metcalfe, Advance TRS CEO on 07793 554 413 or email pme@advance-trs.com.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 was all about nature and the positive effect it has on our mental wellbeing. In a previous blog, we spoke about a great article Mentalhealth.org.uk published, talking about their top tips on connecting with nature to improve your mental health.

Growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of physical and psychological benefits and in this post, we wanted to share some of our favourite ideas with you.

Growing space

Not everyone has access to a garden, so instead, you could plant salad leaves or herbs in a window box or plant pot and watch them grow.

Bring nature to your home

Buy yourself some potted plants or flowers, or arrange a comfortable space to sit by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky.

Connect with animals

The positive effect animals have on our mental health are well-known, so maybe you could benefit from visiting a local farm, hanging a bird feeder outside your window or even borrowing your friend’s dog to take for a walk.

Help the environment

There are countless things you can do to help protect the environment, for example going on a litter picking walk – you will be surprised how much rubbish you will find! Or, if you have some outdoor space of your own, you could plant seeds, such as bushes and flowers to help bees and other wildlife. 

It’s the simple things

If the above don’t really work for you, you could simply enjoy your morning cup of coffee or tea outside or sit in the local park during your lunch break. 

There are many more things you can do to help you (re)connect with nature. Mental health charities like mind.org.uk, as well as the MentalHealth.org.uk website offer great resources to help you.

At Advance TRS, we prioritise our staff’s wellbeing. We offer a Wellbeing Hub and have appointed qualified Mental Health First Aiders, who will act as the first point of contact for anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

We are currently recruiting, so if you want to work for a company that places mental wellbeing and dealing with the causes of stress as a priority, send us your CV or take a look at our latest vacancies.

A question that is often asked during interviews and that can be difficult to answer: what are your weaknesses? This blog is dedicated to exactly this question, to give you some guidance on how to answer it professionally. 

Firstly, remember that there is no “one size fits all” approach to answering this question. We suggest you find the way that works best for you. When you prepare for the interview, sit down and tailor the answer to yourself. 

For more interview tips and other useful guides, take a look at our Advance Advice section.

Where to start

A good way to start is to describe your weakness to the interviewer(s). For example, you could start by saying “My big weakness is sometimes doubting my work.”

You don’t want to eliminate yourself from the race by mentioning something too negative. However, you also want to show that you’re human, and nobody’s perfect. 

Put it into context

This will help the interviewers understand why you perceive this particular habit to be a weakness of yours. You can also demonstrate whether or how it affects your daily work. So using the above-described example of a weakness, you could say “I hold myself and my work to a high standard and want to make sure that everything is done right. Sometimes this means that I don’t come forward with an idea or that I take more time to finish a task I have been working on.”

Your learnings 

Lastly, explain to the interviewer how you are dealing with this weakness and what you might have learnt from it. In the above example, it might be that you’re working on worrying less and voicing your ideas more often, while still putting a focus on delivering high-quality work.

If you go into the interview prepared, having come up with a suitable answer for you, then you have nothing to worry about. Remember that the main focus for the interviewers is to find out whether your skill set and personality are the right fit for their team. 

Are you looking to take the next step in your career? 

Advance TRS is growing quickly and we are always looking for ambitious, driven people to join the team. If you are interested to find out more about our current opportunities, visit our website or for a discrete conversation, contact Jessica Wells, Talent Acquisition Manager.

Competition is rife; the current job market is flooded with candidates who could stand in your way to securing that perfect next career move, so how do you make sure you come out on top?

We’re taking a look at the tips and insight that Andy Ridout, Group MD of Advance TRS, previously provided:

Get your CV in shape

Over the course of my career, I have read hundreds of thousands of CVs and can safely say that employers have too, this is why it is so important to present yours correctly. You might find our CV writing tips useful to help you update it. We also have a CV template available for download.


We are looking for CVs that reflect professionalism and to achieve this, presentation is key. A good CV should begin by listing your educational attainment, followed by your most recent, relevant jobs with dates of employment. Underneath each job include a short summary of the responsibilities and duties you were given whilst in the role, highlighting your achievements, strengths and expressing your ambitions.

Make your summaries to the point and relevant, this will ensure we can quickly access your best features and match you to a role as fast as possible.
It can be very easy to get carried away with fancy fonts and italics but in my experience, this rarely looks professional. I would strongly recommend that text is kept to a standard size (10/11) and a professional and clear looking font (Calibri is a favourite of mine).

Read the job description

Unfortunately, all too often we receive CVs from candidates who have not read the job description correctly; an absolute pet peeve for employers. So, before you apply, please make sure you have all the necessary qualifications and experience; if you don’t we will not send your CV to our client.

Make your CV role-specific

Once you have established that you meet the role’s requirements make sure you tailor your CV accordingly. It can be tempting to try to cut corners with a generic ‘one size fits all’ CV but unlikely you’ll display your abilities to their full capacity or get the intended response. Do your research; know the company and re-word your CV to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.

Go Niche

I have made a successful recruitment career from understanding the specifics and technicalities of the Rail Industry. At Advance TRS, we deal with jobs in 4 different sectors, making us specialist recruiters in Rail, Property, Construction and Water. This allows us to be the first point of call for candidates who require a recruitment team who understands industry jargon and has solid relationships with the top employers in their field.

The interview

Once Advance TRS have secured you an interview we will do everything we can to help you through the process. Interviewers are looking for people who will fit in with the company’s current employees as well as the professional image and reputation they wish to portray. It is essential that your clothes, body language and conduct reflect this since first impressions definitely last.

It is a good idea to stage the interview with a friend or family member the night before. This will give you the opportunity to practice being put on the spot and allow you to prepare your answers to any tricky questions, undoubtedly boosting your confidence during the actual scenario.

Remember, the service we provide you with is free, we don’t get paid unless we find you a job so, if you suit our client’s requirements we will do our best to help you secure your dream job.

For your next career move get in touch with a member of the team at Advance TRS on 01483 361 061.