How to answer the hardest interview question of them all


Picture this common scenario:

You’re in an interview and it’s going well. The rapport is good and you’re feeling confident in all the questions asked of you so far.

Then the hiring manager asks: “How much money do you currently make?” or How much salary do you expect? 

How do you answer?

Let’s say the employer’s budget is (secretly) £30,000 p.a. If you answer too high, say £35,000, you could instantly turn off your interviewer. If you answer too low, say £27,000, then what’s to stop the interviewer offering you the £27k?

For job seekers, the salary question is a bit of a poker game. The goal being to get the hiring manager to lay down their poker cards on the table first. That’s because, once you share a specific salary number, you might just have priced yourself too high (or too low) for the position.

Here are tips to prepare for the salary question/discussion during job interviews:

Research salary information

Before you even speak to a hiring manager, spend some time conducting research to find out average salaries and salary ranges for similar jobs in your area, industry and geography.

Websites you can visit include: Monster, Glassdoor, Payscale and Reed. The more information you have, the more you can be armed with the right knowledge to negotiate.

Try and deflect early on 

The earlier you tell a hiring manager your salary expectations, the less negotiating power you have towards the end of the process. Your aim should be to understand if you’re the right fit for the job before the hiring manager offers you a position.

If you do get asked early in the interview, or before the interview even starts, let him / her know that you’d ideally like a better understanding of the job requirements and how well you think you can meet those needs before discussing the salary.

Decide how much you’d like to make

This doesn't mean sharing an exact number, because it can place you above or below the budgeted salary for the position. Instead, provide a range you’d like to make. “Because I’m changing industries, I’m not expecting to exactly match my previous salary, but, I’d like my pay to be in the range of…”

Providing a salary range

This can be handled in a few different ways. You could provide the salary range you’ve researched, as in, “Based on salary research, similar positions in this geography and industry are currently paying between £X and £Y. Is this also the range for which you’ve budgeted for this position?” Or, you could share the salary range you desire, such as, “Based on what we’ve discussed, along with my knowledge, skills and experience, I would expect the salary range of the position to be between £X and £Y.”

 Honesty isn’t always the best policy 

When it comes to discussing salary during job interviews, avoid sharing with the hiring manager what you currently make. Focus instead on getting them to share the salary range they’re willing to pay. This isn’t always easy and you’ll need to be professional and respectful in your approach; however, it will help you walk away much closer to your desired salary.

For more advice, take a look at our blog or the candidate support pages on our website.

The foolproof guide to mastering telephone interviews


It’s common for hiring managers to use telephone interviews as the first stage of a job interview process.

Why, you may ask?

Largely, it’s down to cost. Using the phone, rather than a face to face session, means that businesses can screen many candidates quickly, with the lowest overall expenditure.

Here’s a step by step guide to mastering what could be one of the most important 60 minutes of your career:

Step 1: Preparation

Although a telephone interview is relatively straightforward, even highly capable candidates can be rejected at this early stage if they are inadequately prepared or not used to speaking in a professional manner over the phone. For many candidates, the whole situation can feel unnatural - without eye contact it can be difficult to build rapport and display a strong personality with your interviewer.

Ensure you are prepared well in advance, once the interview is booked. Find a quiet space, with good mobile signal (assuming you’re not using a landline), preferably indoors and free from distractions. Don’t forget to charge your mobile too!

Step 2: Practice

Practice is useful, especially if you haven't worked in an office or used a telephone to talk to clients in previous jobs. If you can, try getting friends or family members to call you and ask interview questions. Candidates who don't think they'll have any trouble with this style of assessment are often the ones that have difficulties.

Step 3: Research

It is important to find out as much as you possibly can about a company, and a job role, before any type of interview; a telephone interview is no exception. You may receive some information from your prospective employer, but make sure you also visit their website, competitor websites, read relevant trade press, and keep aware of current industry-specific commercial awareness issues. Be aware of the size of a company, its structure, its products and services, its markets, competitors, and future plans.

Step 4: Plan

Plan for possible questions you may be asked before your interview. Consider answers you can give, including good experience examples for competency based questions. It may be wise to prepare an ‘elevator pitch,’ i.e. a set couple of sentences describing why you’d be perfect for the new opportunity.

Lastly, asking your own questions shows you are interested in the company and job role. Ask questions that are relevant to you, but not questions that it would be easy to find out the answers to with a little research on a company website.

Step 5: Master your technique

Although it may sound strange, putting on smart, interview-style clothes before your scheduled telephone interview can help you to focus and get into a professional mindset. Before the session, you could study some relevant material on your company or industry before the scheduled call so that your mind is already focused on work.

Make sure you smile when answering your phone. If you force yourself to smile, you physically become more relaxed and therefore your voice will sound more confident, friendly and assertive.

Standing up, rather than sitting down, can be a good way to keep your confidence and enthusiasm levels high. Professional salesmen use this technique to keep them focused and alert when making high-pressure sales calls. You might consider using a headset, if you have one, which can help you concentrate on talking and thinking, rather than holding your phone. It also allows you to use your hands to complement your responses.

Finally, make sure you keep a copy of your CV, cover letter, application form, and any notes you may have made on the company in question to hand. Telephone interviews will usually be time limited, so questions will tend to focus on your work experience and academic history; your motivations for applying to the firm in question, the particular industry and job role; your knowledge of the firm itself (i.e. competitors, global reach, future plans); and your skills, qualifications and competencies.

Step 6: Conclusion

Part of the reason why firms conduct a telephone interview is to find out how keen candidates are about working at their company and in the particular job role applied for. It is important to be enthusiastic throughout your telephone conversation, but make an effort to be forthcoming at the close.

Your interviewer may be able to tell you at the end of your conversation if they would like to see you for a face-to-face interview. If they do not, there is no harm in asking when you might hear from them regarding the next interview stage. If they do, thank your interviewer and ask them for some further details, such as: when, where and with whom your interview will be; if there is anything you should bring with you to the interview, what the interview format will be and how many people you will be up against; and, what are the crucial skills and key competencies the employer is looking for in employees.

For more advice, take a look at our blog or the candidate support pages on our website.

This article was based on an original piece of work by Wikijob. We thank them for their permission to use it.

Master your body language to be successful at interviews

The majority of interview advice for jobs nearly always focuses on what you say and how good you are at answering questions.

But! Don’t forget we are all human and hiring managers aren’t necessarily paying full attention to your verbal answers. They’re also interested in how you deliver them and your personality. Do you look them in the eye? Do you fidget, play with your pen or fold your arms across your chest? All of these non-verbal cues end up being a part of the overall impression you make.

Your eye contact, handshake and posture can all help or hinder your chances of landing a job. Most hirers will be judging you on your performance within the first 5 minutes of the interview, so it’s important you can kick-off with a good impression.

Here’s some tips to help you prepare:

·         Bad posture. Leaning back can seem lazy. Leaning forward can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture to find the right balance

·         Eye contact. We tend to feel uncomfortable holding the gaze of someone we don’t know. Staring can be rude, but try to look your interviewer in the eye when you are talking to them to show confidence in your answers

·         Crossed arms. Folding your arms is a classic defensive pose and is normally associated with being resistant. Keeping your body language open shows that you are approachable and willing to take on board new ideas

·         Fidgeting. Being restless and twirling your pen around your fingers is never a reassuring sign for interviewers. It’s natural to be a bit nervous, but too much fidgeting can indicate that you aren’t a focused person

·         Mismatched expressions. If someone asks you what you are passionate about, and you tell them without looking passionate, you aren’t going to be convincing anybody anytime soon

But what about nerves?

Anxiety can cause many body-language issues. But doing your homework before a meeting can help ward off those nerves. Solid preparation is most likely to be able to help you stop fidgeting or looking unsure of yourself.

Practice your interview skills ahead of time with friends or family members. When you're finished, ask them for feedback on things like posture, your handshake and eye contact. If you record your practice sessions, you can identify any mistakes you're making unconsciously.

Also, having set answers mastered can be a huge help. Knowing your elevator pitch to respond to the “tell me about yourself” question can really help you relax. Similarly, having specific examples prepared to showcase your skills and experience will help you come across as confident.

Try and relax. Taking a few deep breaths prior to the interview can relieve some of the anxiety that leads to fidgeting and other nervous tics.

Read more of our interview tips and advice on our blog.

Here are the best questions you can ask at the end of an interview

We’re all told that we should prepare some good questions to ask at the end of an interview. But what exactly should those questions be?

Whilst searching for interview advice, a large proportion of the tips usually relate to how you can prepare for certain questions and the skills you’ll need to impress. But, what the guidance usually lacks are good questions to pose to really stand out from your competitors.

Based on research by Glassdoor, we reveal the questions you could ask to highlight that you are interested and taking the hiring process seriously. Bear in mind that each one will depend on the situation.

Understanding more

An easy way to get beyond the basic job description and probe deeper into the details of the job, is to ask more about the role’s expectations and success metrics, such as

1. How does this position contribute to the organisation's success?

2. What do you hope I will accomplish in this position?

3. What support would this position have?

What about the culture?

As much as an interview is about assessing your ability to be a good fit with a company's culture, it is also about gathering as much information and insight into it yourself. You need to understand whether the company is a fit for your values, passions and interests too.

If you pose a simple 'what is the company culture like?' question, it is too easy for the interviewer to come back with something marketing department or human resources approved. Instead you could ask:

4. How long have you been with the company?

5. What was the last big achievement that was celebrated?

6. Would you say that everyone here loves their job?

7. How long do people tend to stay at the company?

Salary, progression and perks

During an interview is the perfect time to ask informed and important questions about pay. No, it's not presumptive or rude; in fact, it's an important factor in your decision-making process:

8. What is the salary range for this role?

9. Besides the base pay, what other benefits are available or negotiable?

10. What's the outlook for progression, salary rises or promotions?

11. How do you recognise and reward high performers?

Day-to-day responsibilities

Drill down into the everyday tasks and expectations for the job you're applying to. These questions are perfect to ask your potential manager or another leader on the team:

12. Tell me about the typical day-to-day role of this position.

13. What are the team's work hours? Are there any specific requirements for time in the office?

14. How does management deliver feedback to employees?

Future opportunities

From development programs to training and mentoring, get a sense of what the company offers in the way professional growth and development opportunities. 

15. Do you have a formal mentorship program or are there mentors available?

16. How have you had the ability to grow in your role?

17. Have any of your current leaders worked their way up the ladder here?

And finally…

Don’t forget to stay positive throughout the job search and ask as many questions as are necessary for you to find a job you love. You may not want to wait until the end of the interview to ask all your questions either – it’s better to spread them out and of course, encourage a natural conversation.

Lastly, if you like the sound of a job but have concerns, it's better to ask the questions and find out the answers in the interview – rather than starting the job and not enjoying it after your fears are realised.

Can you negotiate when receiving a job offer? And crucially, should you?


Picture this: You’ve done endless preparation and have applied for a dozen jobs. The job you really want is with a great company, with excellent prospects. You think it’s super unlikely are going to get it, but you work really hard and apply anyway.

Then, the unthinkable happens! You get an interview request!

And after much preparation and research, you smash your interview, but still you think that a job offer is just a dream.

But then, when you were least expecting it, you get the call: A job offer!

At this point, it’s safe to say that what most people do is this: They accept the job, sign the contract, and turn up for work on the start date.

But what would have happened if you’d have negotiated? Could you have got an even better deal?

Let’s take it from the top.

A job offer is just a mutual agreement

Like any market, the job market only functions well if it’s competitive. This is the only way to ensure fair and equitable pricing. Imagine you were a farmer selling apples. Would you just sell your apples to the first buyer who agreed to purchase them? Or would you survey the marketplace of buyers, see the best price (and business partner) you could get, and then make an informed decision on which buyer to sell to?

And yet, when people talk about the job market, they think “oh, a company wants to give me a job! What a relief!” As though having a job were in itself some special privilege for which a company is the gatekeeper.

Dispel yourself of this mindset.

A job is just a deal. It is a deal between you and a company to exchange work for money (and other things you value).

This might sound like an abstract point, but you should absolutely approach negotiation from this perspective.

The role of negotiation

Negotiating is a natural and expected part of the process of trying to make a deal. It’s also a signal of competence and seriousness. Companies generally respect candidates who negotiate, and most highly attractive candidates negotiate (if for no other reason, because they often have too many options to choose from).

Whilst it’s very easy to say; it doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are. You never damage a relationship by negotiating and it’s extremely unlikely that the job offer will be rescinded if you do. In fact, it’s almost unheard of.

You might think to yourself: “well, I don’t want to set high expectations, and the offer is already generous, so I ought to just take it.

No. Negotiate.

Or maybe: “I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot and look greedy with my future employer.

No. Negotiate.

“But this company is small and — “

No. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate.


But where do I start? And how do I negotiate?

Fair question. And one that we will come back to on a later blog, but here’s the crux of the matter: how much does the job mean to you and how do you feel about the company? Just because you had your heart set on this company originally, where you now have your offer, it doesn’t mean that it’s definitely the right fit for you.

Do not fall into the trap of valuing companies solely along one dimension. That means don’t just value companies based on salary, equity, or even on prestige. Those are all important dimensions, but so are cultural fit, the challenge of the work, learning potential, later career options, quality of life, growth potential, and just overall happiness. None of these inherently trump any of the other. Anyone who tells you “just choose wherever you think you’ll be happiest” is being just as simplistic as someone who says “just choose the one that offers the most money.” All of these things matter, and your decision should be genuinely multi-dimensional.

Be open to being surprised as you explore different companies.

It’s also important to understand that companies don’t all value you along the same dimension either. That is, different companies are genuinely looking for different skills, and there are some companies at which you will be more and less valuable. Even at peer companies this is true, especially so if you have a specialized skill-set.

The more companies you talk to, the more likely you are to find a company to which you are significantly more valuable than the rest. Chances are this is where you’ll be able to negotiate your strongest offer. It might surprise you which company this turns out to be; keep an open mind, and remember that a job search is a 2-sided process.

6 things you should remember to help you master your interview

If you’re lucky enough to be offered an interview, then you’ve probably worked hard to get this far. Your brilliant CV has obviously captured the attention of the hiring manager – congrats! You are well on your way to getting your dream job.

However, don’t rest on your laurels. There is still some prep to do. But where do you start? And how will you ensure you present yourself in the best light? What happens if you fluff it up? It’s very easy to work yourself into a sweat before getting in front of what could potentially be your next boss.

Here are our top 6 things to remember:

The more prep you do, the more likely you’ll get the job

We’ve all heard that before you interview, you should do some research into the company, study their website and job description, familiarise yourself with the job functions etc. But, you might want to go above and beyond to make an impression. If there are multiple candidates being interviewed, what can you do to stand out from the crowd? Can you find out more about your interviewer’s job history? What are the company’s financials like? Have they been in the press lately? Do as much as you can to put yourself in the best light.

Interviewers want to find out more about you

The hiring manager must have read your CV, otherwise you wouldn’t have been invited in. It’s clear they think that you have the potential to do the job and contribute to the success of their business. So, keep reminding yourself that you should be here and you could get the job. You didn’t get the interview because they want to be nice.

Interviewers want you to do well

Many of us assume that a job interview is a test, which we’ll be lucky to pass. Your palms might sweat or you might get flustered answering simple questions.

Whilst, the interview is a test, step back and remember that interviews aren’t like most exams. Your interviewer will actually want you to do well. They don’t want you to waste their time as their vacancy needs to be filled. A few tummy flutters are no bad thing – this usually means the interview actually matters to you – but hiring managers have no interest in putting you down or dashing your confidence. If they ask tricky questions, they aren’t trying to catch you out, they just need to know that they’re making the right decision in hiring you.

The interview is about you, not them

You’re going to be asked A LOT of questions, so don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. The more you can express your personality and convince your hiring manager that you want the job, can do the job, and want to join the team, the more you’ll win them over. You should talk about how you can contribute to the company’s success, not just that you need the money and want to get a foot in the door.

The interview is more like a date than a pitch

While it’s important to sell yourself in a job interview, an overly “salesy” mindset can come across as desperate, or sometimes arrogant. Think of your interview as more like a date. The interview is an opportunity for each of you to confirm mutual interest and determine whether or not that interest merits taking things to the next level. Communicate your interest and put your best foot forward, but do not oversell.

Desperation is never attractive on a date and certainly not in a job interview. Similarly, don’t forget to listen and express interest in the other person. Prepare thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful conversations where possible!

Be honest and be yourself

Your best answer to any question should really be one that you arrived at organically. By all means; arm yourself with some answers to common interview questions, but it’s unwise to put on a persona or be who you aren’t. The interview isn’t a game, so it’s best not to treat it as such. Those who do, rarely win – and if they do, they won’t last very long.

Viewed at its most essential, a job interview is just a chat between two potential colleagues or partners. It’s an opportunity to learn, share ideas and expand your network. Done properly, could it even be fun?!