The job interview in London

job interview in London
Updated 2019-03-15 14:14

Londoners are very time conscious, and they appreciate punctuality, which may explain why they are always in a rush. It is a good practice to arrive about ten minutes earlier to the interview location so that you have enough time to present yourself to the front desk and be guided to the relevant department.


Your interviewer expects to meet someone who has background knowledge of the company, experience in the industry and is willing to undertake new challenges.

Typical interview questions and how to answer them

Tell me about yourself.

To successfully answer this seemingly straightforward question, remember to not fall into the trap of getting too personal and emotional. The interviewers aren't interested in your childhood, and the relationship you have with your partner; nor are curious about your favourite ice cream flavour. What they are trying to find out is whether your education is relevant to the role, how much professional experience you have in the industry, and why are you interested in this particular field and the company.

What are your weaknesses?

We all have flaws we are aware of, and with this question, your interviewers would like to see that you are not only conscious about your imperfections, but you are also working on improving them. For example, if your weakness is public speaking, they would like to hear that you are performing public speaking with every given opportunity to practice.

Why are you the best candidate for this role?

To answer this question emphasise on your skills and personality traits, and demonstrate how you stand out among the other applicants. To complete your answer, give a couple of examples from previous work experiences, which prove your qualities, and explain how you will apply them on the job. It's important to focus on how you will add value to the company than on why you want this job.

What are your salary expectations?

This question may put you on the spot during the interview, so prepare your answer in advance. Do your research about the average salary paid in London for this role, and give a broad answer (e.g. 'I am looking for a starting salary between £30,000 and £35,000.')

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Again, this is not a question about your travel aspirations and personal goals. Demonstrate your passion for a career in the industry, and focus on the company's vision, and how it matches your professional ambitions.

Good to know:

There are a few discreet signs, which usually confirm that the interview is going well. For example, your meeting runs over the scheduled time, or your interviewers spontaneously decide to introduce you to the rest of the team; these may be clues that they already consider you part of the team.


No matter how well you prepare for your interview, it's possible to come across a question that you struggle with. If your mind goes completely blank, ask for a moment to think about it, and compose the answer in your head before you verbalise it.

Interview don'ts

Londoners are very professional in their work environment and like to keep it this way, except when in the pub drinking beers with their colleagues on a Thursday after-work-night. To ensure that you don't overstep professional boundaries during the interview, keep in mind the following don'ts.

Don't underestimate body language.

Your body language can say a lot about whether you feel good about yourself or you are uncomfortable and insecure; whether you are interested in the conversation or you are not engaged mentally. To make a good impression to your interviewers, sit up straight on your chair and avoid slouching by all means, as it's rude. Also, don't break eye contact with your interviewers, as you will automatically lose the connection with the speaker. Look your interviewers in the eyes to show that you are actively listening to what they are saying, and don't hesitate to smile, as it puts both sides at their ease.

Never badmouth your previous employer. Criticising your ex-boss, even if you have a point, reflects negatively on you, as you risk to come across as a complainer. No one wants to have a hater in their team, who is only focusing on the problems rather than the solutions and is generally against change and innovation.

Don't ask anything regarding annual leaves, sick pay, and salary. As discussed in our How to develop a social network from scratch in London article, money is generally a taboo subject for Londoners. Within an interview context, salary and holidays should not be mentioned by the interviewee by any means, as the topic gives the impression that the person is lazy and money oriented.

Don't ask about social connections at work. The social culture of a company is quite important, as everyone wants a friendly and collaborative working environment. However, it's not a good idea to ask your interviewers how often the team goes to the pub and whether workplace dating is acceptable. Instead, you may ask about the size of your team, the dress-code, etc.

Questions you shouldn't be asked in a job interview

The Equality Act 2010 was designed to legally protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, age, or sex. Thus, there are inappropriate questions that interviewers aren't allowed to ask during a job interview, as the answers may be used to discriminate against the candidate. It's often hard to tell whether the employer is just having a conversation or has bad intentions, so familiarise yourself with the questions you shouldn't be asked to be able to stand up for your rights.

You shouldn't be asked about your:

Race, religion, or native language. Note that questions about your origins are different to the question about your eligibility to work in the UK, which is acceptable. Also, as long as your level of English is evidently to the required standard for the role, English doesn't have to be your first language to get hired in London.


Your employer must not consider your nationality or accent as detrimental to your ability to perform well in the role.

Marital status, children, and family plans. Questions covering these topics are too personal, and they can also be used to determine a person's sexual orientation.

Date of birth. Your date of birth can be asked when you fill in the Equality Monitoring Form; however, the person selecting and interviewing the candidates shouldn't be informed about your age.

Health and disabilities. Health issues should only be discussed if the employer wants to determine whether the candidate can carry out the role, or whether adjustments must be made for the candidate's needs to be accommodated (e.g. disabled access).

Criminal convictions. If the sentence has been spent, the candidate isn't obliged to disclose criminal convictions, unless they relate to the role.


Potential employees in education, childcare, and healthcare must undertake criminal records checks (CRB checks) by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before the interview.

Useful links:

Equality and Human Rights Commission
Equality Act 2010
Discrimination: Your Rights
Equality Advisory & Support Service
Maternity Action
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Citizens Advice

After the interview

There are several things to do after a job interview in London to increase your chances of being invited to a second interview or offered the job. Londoners appreciate thank yous and kindness in general, so there's no doubt that your interviewers will expect you to send a follow-up email expressing your gratitude for the invitation to an interview and thanking them for their time. You may not get the job, but at least you are making a good impression, and your name might be considered for a future job opening.

If you are not offered the job, think of the preparation time as a good investment for future interviews you will get. Now you know what kind of questions London companies ask, and you can improve your weak areas, so you perform better at the next interview. Also, it's acceptable to contact the HR department and ask for feedback.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.