Top interview tips from leaders in the medical, fashion and art industries

Sometimes you wish your interviewer would just tell you how well you’re doing or whether they’re going to give you the job, there and then.

Unfortunately, it’s considered ‘against the rules’ to ask your interviewer for help halfway through a question. The Guardian know the struggles of first interviews and have sought the sage wisdom of three professionals from different fields to give their take on how to tackle your first grown-up interview.

1. Consultant Neurosurgeon

You’re probably thinking: “This guy won’t be able to give me any advice about my recruitment assistant position”, but interviews, regardless of profession, follow the same pattern.

The doctor recalls his first interview after deciding he wanted to specialise in neurosurgery: “I was dressed in my suit and had my CV, and we sat there and talked for 25 minutes. He talked about how difficult the job was, how competitive it was and how there were no jobs at the moment, and no training posts either. I think he was trying to put me off but I was having none of it – I was enthusiastic.”

“It’s best to talk honestly in an interview. Now that I interview people, I look for something a bit different – I don’t want a stock answer for everything. I like the one that offers something different.”

2. Chief Creative Officer at Karen Millen

Never underestimate the influence of work experience. It might feel like you’re more of a free worker to a company than an initiate (which sometimes is true) but having previous experience somewhere can jump you to the front of the interviewing queue.

As the now Creative Officer at Karen Millen says of her first job as a designer wrote: “In my world if you’re interviewing for a designer or a brand, make sure you look at their products. Have a view on what you love about it and what you could bring to their collection. Show them you have the potential to make a difference.”

3. Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Making an impression goes a really long way in an interview, even if you’re not the most impressive candidate – great conversation prevails over qualifications.

As this art director says: “My advice is to just be you. Don’t say what you think I want to hear, say what you want to tell me – that’s extremely important. I hire people because I want them to complement me, not be a carbon copy of me. I look for people with strong ideas and opinions, but also people who bring new skills and experiences that can help the museum grow and thrive.”

What now?