The interview is your chance to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job.
If you have been offered an interview, you have already succeeded at the first stage.
Preparation is key.
You can do a lot before the interview to improve your chances of getting the job:
Research the job
Always look at the job description carefully and take note of the main skills the employer is asking for. Then match these skills to what you can do.
Research the company. Look at their website and what they do. They are likely to ask you what you know about their company.
Know your skills
Employers want to know:
- Are you the right person for the job?
- Can you do the job?
Every question you answer needs to be focused on showing employers that you are the right person for the job and that you can, or have the potential, to do the job.
Focus your answers on highlighting your:
S - Strengths
What are you good at? What good things would your previous employer have said about you? What do your friends and family say you are good at?
E - Experience
What tasks have you done that match the tasks in the job description?
T - Training
What training have you done that the job is asking for? What qualifications do you have?
Remember S E T in your interview as that will help you to focus your answers to your strengths, experience and training.
Practise interview questions
You will be asked different types of questions including direct questions and competency questions.
Sometimes employers will ask you unusual questions as well. So be prepared.
Some common interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your strengths?
- What relevant experience have you got?
- Why should we employ you?
- What motivates you?
- What is your major achievement?
Apply your strengths, experience and training to these questions:
Employers would expect some repetition. In fact, they might remember your skills better when you repeat them.
Competency Questions are questions that ask you to give examples from your work or life. They are your chance to prove you have the right skills and experience.
Find help to answer competency questions:
Other questions you might be asked:
What are your weaknesses?
Think of a weakness that could also be a strength. Employers expect a serious answer to this question. Prepare what you will answer before the interview.
What do you know about our company?
Always research the company before the interview. Look online at the company's website and read the information available. Try putting the company's name into a search engine, or news site. If it's positive news you could mention this in interview.
Do you have any questions for us?
Always answer yes.
Questions you might ask depend on the job but here are a few suggestions:
- How many people would I be working with?
- Who would I be reporting to?
- Can you tell me about a typical day on this job?
Don't ask about wages, annual leave, sickness or pension schemes. These are questions you would ask if they offer you the job.
Practise answering questions out loud. If you can, practise with someone that can give you honest feedback. The more you practise, the more confident you will be in the interview.
Expect different types of interviews
Types of interviews
Interview styles vary. Some can be a casual chat, others may be formal.
The number of interviewers can be from 1 person to a panel of up to 8 people. You may have a series of interviews with different people, possibly all on the same day.
Stay calm and remember they are interviewing you because they liked your application or CV.
You may be asked to take a test on the day of the interview. It might be an aptitude test, or a practical test relevant to the type of work.
You may be required to give a presentation on a topic relevant the job you are applying for. Usually you would be told about this in advance. Check that you will have access to any equipment you may need.
You may have to take part in group activities with other candidates. Group interviews test your ability to work in a team, your communication skills, your initiative or ability to lead others.
Make sure you listen to others in your group and take on board their thoughts. But also make certain that you share and contribute ideas too.
Wear the right clothes
First impressions count. Make sure that you wear smart clothes. Whatever kind of job you’re going for, this will show that you are serious about getting the job.
Make those important first impressions positive.
Interviews - Top tips
- Give yourself time to get ready. Make contingency plans, e.g. in case your car doesn’t start or your children are sick.
- Make sure you’ve got your exam certificates and any other documents which you think you might need (perhaps, open references, for example). You should always take the letter inviting you to interview, telling you where and when the interview is and who will be interviewing you.
- If you have any examples of things you have done in previous jobs, or in your spare time, which would be relevant to the job you are applying for, take them along.
- You may need some change for bus/train fares or to use a drinks machine while you are waiting.
- Never go cluttered with things like shopping bags.
- Set off in plenty of time to allow for delays and so that you arrive about ten minutes early. Then you’ll have time to gather your thoughts and to visit the cloakroom and tidy yourself up, if you need to.
- When you arrive, introduce yourself to the receptionist (if there is one). Be professional and friendly to everyone you meet – you never know who the interviewer will consult about their impressions of you!
- If you are unavoidably delayed on the journey, do your very best to phone to let the employer know.
- Sometimes, all candidates are invited to arrive early in the morning for a pre-interview briefing. Your actual interview may not be until later in the day. If you know this in advance, you might ask if you could look around the organisation during the waiting time
Top tips to prepare for an interview
tips from employers about preparing for an interivew