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.
- Research the organisation and the role
- Consider the questions you may be asked during the interview and what behaviours and attributes the employer is looking for
- Practice your answers to these questions and have a range of examples ready
- Prepare some appropriate questions for you to ask the interviewer(s)
- Dress smartly – suit for men, suit/smart for women
- Read all the interview instructions given to you
Before the interview, think about the questions that you're likely to be asked, and try practising your answers with a friend or record yourself on your mobile phone. If you're still at university, or recently graduated, your university career service may also be able to stage practice interviews for you.
If your interview is in person then know where you are going: plan your route and stay overnight if needed. You can also take a copy of your application with you and read through it before you go in.
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.
For more advice on preparing for a successful interview watch our webinar.
Members of our professional categories (AMRSC, MRSC and FRSC) can book mock interview practice with a career and professional development adviser. Use the careers contact form on the left to book.
Video interviews held over the internet are currently how most employers are recruiting new staff.
Some companies 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.
Companies also hold face to face video interviews over the internet using video conference software like Skype or Zoom. You need to treat any video interview the same as any other face to face interview, but here are some specific tips to make them a success.
Before the interview
- Prepare as you would for an in person interview. It can be useful to record your answers to common interview questions on your mobile phone, or video interviewing software and refine them by watching your recording. Practising will help you feel comfortable and confident answering the questions for real in the time allocated.
- Hold a practice video call with a friend to test the quality of your internet connection, lighting, your camera and its positioning before the interview.
- Install any video software or updates you will need 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
- Read all the interview instructions provided
- Find a quiet and tidy place where you won’t be interrupted (i.e. no public spaces) and put your mobile phone on silent and move it out of sight.
- 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.
- Dress smartly – you will look and feel professional and interview-ready.
- Speak clearly, concisely and confidently using the STAR* method. Pay attention to your body language and remember to smile and sound enthusiastic.
- Act and talk as you would for a face to face interview by looking into the camera but avoid staring as this can be off-putting.
* The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioural or competency interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.
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.
If you’re a member of our professional membership categories then contact the Career and Professional Development team for more interview support and mock interviews.