I’m looking to change jobs, but am nervous about the interview process. What tips can you give me? John, 26, analyst.

THE most important thing is the preparation that you put in – that’s the difference between a good interview and a merely competent one. If you think about it, a job interview is a very imperfect means of recruitment – an hour with a complete stranger is only going to enable people to make very superficial judgments about you. So being prepared, which means you can back up everything you say with evidence and well-researched knowledge, is the only way you can get a definite edge.

So make sure you know everything you can about the company and the industry. Don’t just look at their website, look at their competitors and see how they’re different, look at news reports, know what the key buzzwords and news topics are in the industry right now.

Most interview questions will revolve around three themes: can you do the job, why do you want it, and will you fit in with the company. You need to give them answers that provide evidence as to why what you say is true. Think about your career and your CV, and how what you’ve done applies to these three things.

A couple of don’ts: if they open with a question along the lines of “tell me about yourself”, don’t start droning about your boring personal back story. They’re interested in five or six sentences that give a précis of why you’re the best candidate for this job. Keep it simple.

Secondly, don’t fall into the trap of criticising your current employer, whatever your real feelings are towards your manager or company. The recruitment process has to be about pull rather than push – you’re leaving because the new job is so attractive, not because you’re old job is so bad. Stick to positives.

Lastly, don’t expect the interviewers to be good interviewers. It’s no good coming out the room complaining you didn’t get the opportunity to say certain things – if you feel there’s something relevant to add at the end, tell them.