Preparing for interviews
Interviews work both ways. They provide an opportunity for:
- the organisation to find out about you and what you can do
- you to find out about the organisation, department and the job.
They can take different forms – including general, technical, one-to-one or panel – but the key to a successful interview is preparation.
If you've secured an interview, here's a few tips to make the most of the opportunity.
- Know where you are going: plan your route and stay overnight if needed
- Take a copy of your application with you and read through it before you go in.
- Dress smartly – suit for men, suit/smart for women
- Research the organisation and the role
- Have a range of examples ready for answering questions
- Prepare some appropriate questions for you to ask the interviewer(s)
Before the interview, think about the questions that you're likely to be asked, and try practising with a friend or colleague. If you're still at university, or recently graduated, your university career service may also be able to stage practice interviews for you.
After an interview, send a thank you note or email to your interviewer, or HR contact. Personalising the message to talk about your interview discussion is key and will help you stand out to the recruiter.
Assessment centres comprise of a range of activities that are designed to enable interviewers to get a well-rounded picture of you. They can be quite intense, as you will be under observation throughout the day, but you should be informed beforehand of what you will be expected to do so that you can prepare.
Video interviews held over the internet are becoming more common as part of the recruitment process. This is especially true early on in the process as employers try to draw up a shortlist of people to interview in person.
Some companies now invite applicants to answer a series of pre-set questions by video as an initial part of the interview process. Via bespoke video software the questions either appear on screen as text, or as a pre-recorded video with a time limit for the applicant to record their response. The videos are then reviewed by HR or using AI to decide whether the applicant should progress. This newer type of interviewing is largely being used in graduate recruitment where there are high volumes of applicants. To prepare you can record your answers to common interview questions and refine them by watching back your recording. Practising will help you feel comfortable and confident answering the questions for real in the time allocated.
You need to treat any video interview the same as any other interview, but here are some specific tips to make them a success.
Before the interview
- Hold a practice video call with a friend to test the quality of your internet connection, your camera and its positioning before the interview.
- Install any video software or updates you will need a day or two before the interview. If there is a test call facility then use it to check you are familiar with the software and that your video and audio settings are working.
- Check the angle of your camera to make sure your interviewer can see your face fully. This is especially important if you are using a laptop with a built in camera.
- Exchange phone numbers with the company so you can be contacted by phone in case of any technical issues on the day.
On the day
- Dress smartly – you will look and feel professional and interview-ready.
- Find a quiet and tidy place where you won’t be interrupted (i.e. no public spaces).
- Have a blank wall behind you and take down any pictures so the interviewer isn’t distracted during your call.
- Close other windows or programmes during the call and ensure your device has enough battery, or is charging.
- Read all the interview instructions
- Act and talk as you would for a face-to-face interview looking into the camera but don’t stare as this can be off-putting.
If you’re a member then contact the Career Management team for more interview support and mock interviews.