Interviews

Interviews

Congratulations!  You have been invited to an interview.  Our interview resources will help you to prepare, and feel confident in video, online and face to face interview situations, and provide you with opportunities to practise answering common interview questions.

Top Tips
  • Be confident – An invitation to an interview means they liked your application and are seriously interested in you.
  • Remind yourself of the job description, requirements and of what you said in your application.
  • Do more research – Employers will expect you to know even more about them at this stage.
  • Ask some sensible questions at the end to demonstrate your motivation and interest in the employer.
  • Use the STARR structure for answering competency questions.
  • Practise – Book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser.
The basics

Interviews give employers the chance to explore your skills and motivation in more detail than at the application stage. They also allow employers to test for competencies which are not easily covered in an application such as interpersonal skills and to assess how you would fit into the organisation.

There are many types of interview. The most common are:

  • In-person/face-to-face interviews, usually with one or two recruiters or, occasionally, a panel.
  • Online/Telephone interviews - these are similar to an in-person interview without the need to travel.
  • Video interviews which ask you to record your answers to pre-recorded questions.

For most small employers, this is the last step in the recruitment process; if you are successful, you will be offered the job. With large employers, you will usually have to attend an assessment centre.

What will they ask?

It is impossible to predict exactly what you will be asked by a specific employer but there are some key areas on which employers’ questions usually focus.

Most employers use competency-based questions to explore how well you match the job requirements. You can find more information on how to select suitable examples from your experience and how to structure your answers in the "What will they ask?" section on our Application Forms page and in our guide to Creating STARR Examples.

You can also expect questions about:

  • The job – Why have you applied for this role? What do you know about it?
  • The employer – Why have you decided to apply to this specific organisation and what do you know about them?
  • The sector/wider issues – What are the current challenges and developments in this sector?
  • You – Be ready to talk about any information you have provided in your application. This could include your degree and course choices, work experience, or interests and achievements.

For jobs in technical areas such as engineering or IT, you may also be asked to demonstrate your technical expertise. Sometimes, employers will simply ask for more information on your dissertation or projects but you may also be asked to comment on a technical problem or scenario.

How to prepare

The key to a successful and relatively stress-free interview is thorough preparation:

  • Deal with practical preparations well in advance. Book travel if necessary and plan what you will be wearing. 
  • Remind yourself of the employer’s requirements as well as your relevant skills and experience. Go back to your application. This is what got you this far!
  • Build on your research – Employers will expect you to have more in-depth knowledge about them and the job on offer at this stage. Follow the news and keep up-to-date with any issues which could affect your chosen employer and sector.
  • Prepare some sensible questions. Focus on issues related to the job and the employer such as training and support provided, areas for expansion or specific questions on your duties and responsibilities. Avoid questions about salary and benefits or purely practical things.

One of the best ways to prepare is to book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser. This will give you the chance to practise your answers with a professional and receive feedback. If you have not been given enough time to arrange this, then you are welcome to pop into the Careers and Employability Service and chat to an Adviser.

On the day

It is natural to be nervous in an interview. Good interviewers will only be too aware of this and make sure that you are comfortable.

You can also keep stress to a minimum by following these simple steps:

  • Do not be late! Leave with plenty of time to spare to allow for any delays. For online interviews, test your connection and technology works ahead of time.
  • Listen carefully and think before you answer.
  • If you do not understand a question, ask.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Act professionally throughout.

It is a good idea to make a note of any questions you found tricky immediately after your interview, so you can ask for advice on how to tackle them next time. If you are unsuccessful, you can ask the employer for feedback although not all employers will provide this.