This section of the website is focused on preparing for an interview and what to expect, it covers:
•What to expect at an interview
•Tips and hints, which can make interviews easier
Get started below.
If you manage to get an interview the first thing to do is to pat yourself on the back and say well done.
This means that your CV, application or networking have been strong enough to get you an interview.
The most important thing to remember now is this;
“Your CV has got you this far, but it has done its job. It is your interview that is going to get you the job.”
Read through the next couple of pages – they are designed to give you the best possible chance of succeeding at your interview. This all starts with excellent preparation.
Before you even begin thinking about the interview itself there are some important questions to answer, this will help you to feel more prepared;
Where is it?
Find out where the location is – the last thing you need on the day of the interview is to get lost, stuck in traffic or realise it takes longer to get there than you first thought.
How long will it take me to get there?
Think about the different ways to get there and what would make you feel most comfortable;
Walking – is it close enough? What if it is raining? How long will it take? Do I know the way?
Car/Taxi – will there be traffic? How long will it take? Am I driving or is someone giving me a lift? Do I trust them enough to arrive on time?
Bus / Public Transport – Where does the bus drop me? How far do I have to walk from the bus stop? How much time do I need to give myself?
And remember if you need support to get to the interview please ask someone you know and trust who can provide you with support.
How long will the interview last for?
This might seem like a silly question, but you can find this out by asking the company when they offer you an interview.
If you have other plans on the day of the interview, or maybe even other interviews on the same day, it will help you to feel confident that you have enough time and you aren’t sat worrying about being late to something else when you are in your interview.
Researching the company
Once you feel confident in where it is and how you’re going to get there the next step is to research the company.
This might sound a little bit daunting, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds and it can help you to get off to a really good start in your interview because one of the first questions you are likely to be asked is;
“Can you tell me what you know about us (the company)?”
Researching a company is easy, these steps provide a useful guide on how to do it:
Enter the company name into Google and find their website.
Click on the link to the website and find the page that says ‘About’.
Click ‘About’ and you will find some information about who they are, what they do.
Make a note of what you read, you do not have to remember absolutely EVERYTHING, just some memorable facts that show you have done some research. Useful things to make a note of might be;
The year they were founded
What they do
Who some of their customers are
This is your chance to show the interviewer that you are really interested in working there.
Dressing for interview
Ok, first things first – no one has ever been turned down for a job because they turned up looking ‘too smart’.
If you are in any doubt at all, it is always best to be overdressed rather than underdressed.
Thinking about dressing for an interview in this way will help you to make the right choices.
Have a read through our top tips below;
The most important thing is to wear something you are comfortable in, it doesn’t have to be expensive or new either – just something that you feel yourself wearing.
Try to keep things smart, again this doesn’t mean ‘posh’, it just means clean, tidy, and that shirts, tops, blouses, skirts and trousers are ironed and don’t have creases.
Keep your hairstyle professional, remember it is an interview and not a night out.
Make sure your shoes are clean.
Your interview is likely to be your first face-to-face meeting with your future employer – you can only make a first impression once so remember to wear a confident smile as well.
If you need support around what to wear please ask an adult who provides support to you.
We wish we were able to tell you exactly the type of questions you will be asked at interview, unfortunately this is not possible as every interviewer is different.
However, below are some of the more common questions that are asked at interview – read through them and begin thinking about what you might say to answer the questions.
The section below on ‘Attending the Interview’ will help you to strengthen your answers and give you a better chance of getting the job.
Tell me about yourself? – This almost always comes up at some point in an interview
Talk about education, any work experience or volunteering, hobbies and interests, things you are passionate about.
What are your strengths? – A very common question
Remember your key skills section from your CV? Read through it again and make sure you remember what you have written.
What are your weaknesses? - Again a very common question
This isn’t a trick question. Everyone has weaknesses. The important thing here is to be honest. If you can tell the interviewer a weakness that you have that WON’T affect a job offer then this will really help you. For example, if you are interviewing for a job that starts at 9am, a really good interview answer might sound like;
“I can remember being at school and I had to be up at 6am to make sure I was ready and on the bus on time. I found this really difficult at first but I developed a system to make sure I was always on time even though it didn’t come naturally to me.”
What is your biggest achievement?
Again this isn’t a trick question and it can be absolutely anything that you are proud of – this can be professional or personal. Tell the interviewer what you are really proud of. It is sometimes useful to remember a time in your life where you really didn’t think you could do something, but you managed to do it, this can be a great example as an answer.
What do you know about our company?
Make a note of what you read, you do not have to remember absolutely EVERYTHING, just some memorable facts that show you have done some research.
Useful things to make a note of might be;
The year they were founded
What they do
Who some of their customers are
Attending the Interview
We have already covered this but remember you can only make a first impression once!
When you walk into the building make sure you look confident by;
Keeping you back straight
Keeping your chin up
As you approach the reception desk (or wherever it is that you have been asked to report to) you need to remember to tell the person greeting you 3 things.
Why you are there
Who you are there to see and what time your interview is
“Hi, my name is John Smith and I am here for an interview with David Gold at 10am.”
You are likely to be invited to sit and wait until the interviewer is ready for you. You won’t be kept waiting too long, but it is all part of the game – sit quietly, keep your phone in your pocket or in your bag (now is a very good time to check it is turned off/silent too).
If there are leaflets, posters or noticeboards, take the opportunity to read them whilst you wait – this will achieve 4 very important things, it will;
Show the interviewer that you are interested in what they do
Give you something to make ‘small talk’ about in the time it takes to walk to the interview room
Distract you from any nerves you might be feeling whilst you wait
Stop you from fidgeting
Once you get to the interview room, it is normal for there to be more than one person. Whilst this might feel a little bit overwhelming, it is in fact to make sure that the job is offered fairly.
Answering questions at Interview
When you are in the room, shake hands and say ‘hello’ to each person that will be interviewing you – remember to look confident with a smile and some eye contact.
From the practice questions above, you are hopefully aware of some of the questions that might get asked.
However, when you are put on the spot, it can be really difficult to remember what to say. The most common mistake that people make at interview is not answering the question that was asked.
That might sound silly, but they make this mistake by doing one of two things;
Waffling too much and not answering the question
Not saying enough to answer the question
You can avoid the two mistakes above by remembering to answer questions in a very set way. This will help you to say all the things that you want to say and will also help you to stay focussed and avoid waffling.
You can build structure into your answer by following the system below;
T - Task
A - Action
R – Result
Task – tell the interviewer something that you were tasked with, asked to do, a problem to solve.
Action – tell the interviewer what you did and/or how you solved the problem.
Result – tell the interviewer the benefits of your work, this could be more money made, happier customers, better teamwork, absolutely anything!
Questions to ask the interviewer
At the end of the interview, be ready with some questions to ask the interviewer. Asking the interviewer questions is a good way to find out information about future opportunities, your own development and what it is like to work there. All of this stuff will come in handy if you are offered the job, as it will help you to make your decision.
Here are some useful questions to keep in mind – if you are confident enough, ask away (but wait until the end of the interview).
How much support will I have with my own training and development?
What are the prospects for promotion if I do a good job in my role?
How will I know if I’m doing a good job?
These types of questions will show an interest in the job and the company.
The very last thing to remember at interview is to follow-up after the interview.
The person interviewing you should give you an idea as to when you will find out if you have been successful or unsuccessful.
If you haven’t heard by this point, it is a really good idea to ring the company and say something similar to the following;
“Hi, my name is John Smith. I interviewed for the position of customer advisor on 18th February. I was told on the day that you would have made a decision by now, but I haven’t heard anything. Do you have any more news on recruiting for the job as I am still very interested?”
Following up might feel like you are ‘hassling’ – you’re not!
Following up shows interest, it shows that you care and if an interviewer is torn on making a decision between you and someone else, that 30-second phone call might just be all-important.