The Dos and Don’ts For Your Next Interview – Ft. Card Factory

15ten15 has teamed up with Nicola Rogerson, HR Manager at Card Factory one of the UK’s largest retailers with over 900 stores and 6,000+ employees - to talk through some of her interview tips and some of the major interview faux pas she has encountered whilst helping to grow the business. Continue reading below … 

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The Dos and Don’ts For Your Next Interview – Ft. Card Factory

Who are we?

Nicola is the HR Manager within Card Factory, one of the UKs largest employers. She is responsible for recruiting Support Centre functions within the business, meaning that she is instrumental in the interview process for positions across; Finance, Operations, Marketing, Sales, HR & more.

15ten15 is a leading recruiter in the Yorkshire region, specialising in central office functions. We’re an early-adapter of Artificial Intelligence within recruitment and we combine an industry-leading recruitment platform with over 50 years of recruiting experience across our management team. We have helped candidates of all backgrounds ensure successful interviews – whatever sort of position they’re applying for. 

A big part of this job is helping to prep candidates the best we can for interviews which they are about to face. Typically, this will include making sure people know where they are going and what they are walking into, as well as talking through more general questions before they sit down with their potential new employer for the first time. This is why we thought it would be useful to team up with Nicola and create a helpful overview of the do’s and don’ts for a successful interview. 


First impressions

The initial meet and greet can be a deal-breaker in itself for the success of an interview. This is the first opportunity where you can give the hiring manager a positive opinion of yourself for the job. 

Ultimately what a hiring manager is looking for in a first impression is; 

Social queues – we’re looking to see somebody who can pick up on atmosphere and understand the direction of a conversation. It is important to be able to produce a two-sided conversation and give something back to the hiring manager. 

Comfort – It is important for the job seeker to show they are relaxed, confident and comfortable. If nothing else, this also helps to put the hiring manager at ease and helps to create a fluid conversation. All of which reflects well on you as a candidate.  

Some faux pas to look out for include; 

One word answers – showcasing that you can give back and add to a conversation is vital. If somebody is trying to make small talk with you, make sure to answer with a full response rather than a limited one, reciprocate the question or sentiment also! 

Stay on topic – whilst a hiring manager does want to see that you’re comfortable making conversation, they don’t want to hear about something completely irrelevant to the question asked. 

No presents – you might think that it’s a smooth move, but it could be considered a bribe or unprofessional! Everyone loves to celebrate – but maybe wait until you’ve received the offer. 


Dress code

This can be a controversial area – should you wear a tie or even a suit at all? Can tattoos be on show? Should you buy new shoes? … 

There is a far more relaxed opinion towards the attire deemed appropriate for an interview now, with it becoming more apparent that hiring managers are generally taking a more relaxed view and keeping the emphasis on the personality and experience of the job seeker themselves. 

That being said, I would always suggest trying to do some research on the culture of the company beforehand – a good recruitment agency should be able to help you with this. If you are interviewing at a tech start-up, formal dress code will be looked on very differently than if you are interviewing for a job within a very corporate setting. 


The interview itself

This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for … the headline act. Ultimately, the interview itself is where you hold the best chance of showing off how good you are for a role

Whilst it is important to not be over-rehearsed in an interview, you should still have had some thought about how you might approach each stage. Please find our guide on what to look out for in each part below: 

Talking about yourself – this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what is important to you outside of work, as well as why you feel you would be a good fit for the job and even maybe why it is that you want to work for that particular company. When talking about yourself, it is important to remember that hiring managers will be listening to what information you choose to prioritise – this is normally a telling tale of what you deem to be important or see as your highest achievements. 

Talking about the job – You have a great list of achievements on your CV, an interviewer will want to know; what the achievement was, exactly what role you played within the achievement, any difficulties on its journey, what you did to overcome those difficulties, what the end result or overall benefit of completing this achievement was and what you learnt/will take away from the experience. 

You also need to show your desire for the role and the company. You should be aware that a big chunk of illustrating how keen you are for the job comes across in how you behave in the interview itself. Our advice for making sure you show off your desire to get the job would be to make sure you bring a lot of energy to the meeting, as well as keeping fully engaged in your conversation with the hiring manager – eye contact, smile, nod or gesture along when it’s their turn to talk, etc. 

What questions should you ask – A big tick in the box  is the interest that a job seeker has in company qualities such as; culture, team moral, why the role became vacant, life outside of work, etc. The reason for this being that it shows there is long-term thought behind them, i.e. as a job seeker you are thinking about the longer term fit of yourself with this company, rather than just seeing it as a quick fix. Everyone goes to work to pay the bills, but it’s much more enjoyable to have fun and feel a part of the company while you do it. 

We should also warn, that whilst there are lines of questioning that will benefit you there are also lines of questioning which could harm your chances! For instance, an off-putting area of questioning within a first interview would be very specific queries about time off for illness and sick pay or how long you need to work before you are entitled to certain benefits. Whilst these are all very important details, if you put them across before any other questions you run the risk of making them appear your priority rather than the job, the culture or the company itself. 


When to follow up

Following up with the hiring manager post-interview can be a great way to demonstrate your interest in the role you have interviewed for. However it is a line that needs to be tread carefully … as depending on how you approach the situation, you could be misconstrued as a bit over-bearing. 

My advice to anybody would be to follow up on an interview – providing the hiring manager has given you their contact details. 

Furthermore, the way in which I would advise you to follow up would be to send an email thanking the hiring manager for their time and expressing your interest in continuing a conversation about the job vacancy/stating that you look forward to hearing back from them. 

This is where I would leave the ball in their court. 

At this point, you’ve done your best – relax and wait for the phone to ring! 


Next steps

If you’re interested in understanding the best way to approach an interview, you can gain access to our pool of shared resources by registering as a candidate at Once you have registered you will have access to a series of hints & tips put together by our team which can help with any interview process you have coming up. 

If you are interested in looking at new career opportunities and would like some help or advice on what the best course of action might be, please get in touch with one of our consultants on 0113 468 1054. 

You can find more useful information directly within your Social Media by following @15ten15 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.



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