“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.

With the global pandemic, times have changed and so has the working world. With many of us working remotely we have become very familiar with Zoom, and not just because of the weekly family quiz nights. 

Businesses have had to adapt certain processes to ensure their employees’ health and safety, and one of those processes is the way interviews are conducted. 

Many companies have opted to hold job interviews via video call, which is a great way to ensure social distancing rules are adhered to, however, can bring different challenges for the interviewee. We’ve got some pieces of advice for you if you have a video interview coming up.

Dress for the job you want

Even though your potential new employer might only be able to see your top half, make sure to dress smart head to toe, rather than wearing a blazer and tracksuit bottoms. This will help put you in the right frame of mind, too. 

No matter what job you’re applying for, it is always worth dressing smart, rather than looking too casual. 

Do your research

Whether the interview is held in person or via video call, you should always be well prepared. Make sure to look up the business, find out as much about it as you can and also look up your interviewers. That way you can find out how long they have been with the company for and ask them about what they like about working there.

If you don’t know who is interviewing you, you can ask your recruiter or the person you have been in touch with to confirm the names. 

Switch off notifications

Whatever device you use for the video interview, make sure to switch off any notifications during the call. Having a constant beep of notifications coming up can be distracting for you and the interviewers.

Make use of your screen

You can write some notes about the company and the job on Post-Its and place them around your screen. It can also be useful to have some bullet points on answers to difficult questions you might be asked. We previously published a blog about commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them. You can read the article here. 

Disrupted signal

We’ve all experienced this – occasionally signal might drop and your screen freezes for a short period. If that happens during your interview stay calm, apologise and carry on with the interview.

Find a quiet space

While it is best to find a space without any disruptions for the duration of the interview, that might not always be possible. In case you have children or pets at home who can occasionally be heard in the background, apologise, briefly explain the situation to the interviewers and carry on.

Ask questions

Prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview to show you are genuinely interested in the business and the role. Again, you can write these on notes and stick them to your screen.

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

Advance TRS are 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 Jess Wells, our 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.

Going for an interview can be a daunting experience, however, a little practice can make you feel much more prepared and at ease. Below is a list we collated of some of the interview dos and don’ts that go beyond doing your homework and researching the company.

What you should do

Arrive early

We recommend being at the place of the interview around 5 to 10 minutes prior. That shows that you have good time management skills. Be mindful that arriving too early can come across just as bad as being late.

Pay attention to your position

Make sure that you face your interviewer and are sitting up straight, not slumped in your chair. This will automatically make you feel more confident and help the interviewer form a positive opinion on you. It is also a good idea to make eye contact throughout, however, don’t overdo it.

Consider your answers

While you shouldn’t leave too long a gap between a question being asked and giving your answer (to the point where it gets uncomfortable), do take time to consider what you want to say and how to word it.

Be authentic

The interviewer, your potential new manager or colleague, needs to be able to get a feel for whether you will fit well into the company not only because you have the right skill set, but also the right personality. Be approachable and take time to smile.

Dress appropriately

If you’re not 100% sure what the dress code will be, it is always a good idea to dress smart. It is an interview after all, even if you will be able to wear more casual clothes on a day to day basis.

What you shouldn’t do

Don’t stress yourself out before the interview

Most people find interviews to be nerve-wracking, however, try not to stress yourself out too much before your appointment.

Don’t fidget too much

Try to keep your hands visible rather than starting to click a pen under the table. Interviewers will understand that you are nervous but fidgeting too much might not give a good impression of yourself.

Don’t forget that anyone you meet could be your future colleague

So be kind to everyone you encounter at the company.

Don’t speak ill of previous employers

It never comes across well to speak negatively about previous colleagues, managers or employers.

Don’t make up answers

If you don’t know the answer to a question it is better to admit it rather than trying to come up with one.

For more interview tips and techniques take a look at the Advance Advice section on our website.

If you’re a driven individual currently looking to take the next step in their career then we’d love to hear from you. Advance TRS is growing quickly, so we are always looking for new 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 Paul Metcalfe, Advance TRS CEO on 07793 554 413 or email pme@advance-trs.com.

Awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace has risen dramatically in recent years, as one in four people suffer from anxiety and stress which can have a considerable impact on a company. It is therefore important to recognise problems early and to implement initiatives to support staff and colleagues. The business and its employees will benefit from it.

There are different measures to be taken when wanting to improve mental wellbeing at work. It is a good idea to put in place a plan to help with this. Below are some points worth considering:

Mental health first aid

Mental health first aid courses are a great way to enable managers and team members to identify colleagues suffering from mental ill health and support them appropriately. Therefore, one of the first steps a business might choose to take is to select a number of ‘mental wellbeing champions’ to attend the course.

Educating staff

It is also a good idea to educate staff on what can be done to improve and maintain mental wellbeing. For example, taking up hobbies, being active and having a balanced diet might not prevent stress and anxiety but can help relieve them.

By enabling an office environment where staff can speak openly about issues they are facing with their managers (or mental wellbeing champions), team members are less likely to require time away from work, as the business will have created a culture of trust. This will help to alleviate any initial stress when a team member is seeking advice about their situation.

Mental health policy

Writing up a mental health policy for employees will provide them with the necessary information on who to speak to and where to look for further support, i.e. websites, charities and other organisations.

Mental wellbeing at Advance TRS

At Advance TRS, we prioritise the mental wellbeing of our staff. To provide a first point of contact when needed, we have appointed qualified Mental Health First Aiders. We also offer a Wellbeing Hub, where confidential support via an EAP helpline can be accessed at any time. These are only some of the steps we have taken and we continue to improve our mental health awareness.

Click here to view more of our tips or take a look at our latest live jobs here.

Our Water and Infrastructure Director, Rob Kelly, visited the University of Southampton at the beginning of the month to deliver a workshop for the students.

The aim was to help students by giving advice on the essentials needed to land a job after they graduate. Covering CVs and Interview tips, Rob went into detail about:

  • CV format
  • CV content
  • Tailoring techniques
  • Personal profiles
  • Interview preparation
  • Organisation research
  • Killer questions
  • Interview approach
  • STAR technique.

The STAR technique is designed to guide you through competency-based interview questions, often questions starting with ‘Tell me about a time you did X’.

S – Situation T – Task A – Approach R – Result

Competency questions are generally used to find out how candidates would react to certain situations, by asking for real-world examples to back-up their claims.

Don’t let their open-ended nature fool you. There is a formula you can apply to keep your answers on track, which is where STAR comes in. Click here to read the full details and examples with how this technique can help you.

If you are looking for some help with writing your CV or would like tips about what you can do to prepare for an upcoming interview, our Advance Advice page is where you need to go next! We have lots of articles here to help and these have come from top, experienced recruiters who know recruitment processes like the back of their hand.

Click here to read more interview tips.

Click here to view our CV tips and Click here to download our FREE CV template

If you are well organised and have planned for your interview, your confidence will increase ensuring that you stand out from other candidates. So, before the interview process, ensure that you:

Know your CV

Familiarise yourself with your CV just before you meet with the interviewer. You are likely to be asked to qualify decisions that have led you to joining organisations on your CV. Make sure you highlight any achievements that will make a positive impression so you are able to emphasise these to explain how you will add value to the company.

Dress to Impress

Pick your outfit and try it on before the interview. Make sure everything fits well and is comfortable. Look the best you can, in attire that is appropriate for the role you are being considered for. If you can feel comfortable and confident in how you look, then this will show in how you present yourself.

Research the Company

Familiarise yourself with information of your potential employer, their culture and work ethos. Research any issues or opportunities within the industry and understand fully how you can contribute positively to assist in resolving or implementing them. As a general rule, the more famous the brand, the more the interviewer will expect you to have done your homework. Researching the company shows that you are serious about the job.

Know the role/job description

When it comes to interview preparation, the job description is your best friend. Not only will a thorough examination of the duties and required personal qualities help you to understand more about what the role entails, it’ll also help you to recognise exactly what the employer is looking for. Then, you can tailor your answers accordingly – coming up with tangible examples that prove you’re the best candidate for the role.

Plan your journey

Confirm the time and location of your interview the day before. If you are taking public transport, make sure you have an up-to-date timetable. If you are driving, allow time for delays and parking. If possible, you may wish to check the journey time by doing a trial run ahead of the interview.

Make a positive First Impression

The importance of making the right first impression cannot be overstated, particularly in the first 30 seconds. The interviewer will begin to form an opinion of you from the minute you arrive. Be punctual and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, eye contact and a smile, but do be careful not to crush their hand! A little more pressure than they give is a good guide.

“A job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but your ability to use it at the right time”

Click here to view more tips from us.

Click here to view our latest live jobs.