Preparing for an interview

Before the interview

Find out about the company

  • What are its products or services?
  • What size is it?
  • Who are its competitors?

You may wish to do some personal research.

Ask for a job description before the interview to find out which of your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company. This will help you to prepare specifically for this job.

Find out about the structure of the interview

Most interviews follow a similar format:

1. Questions based on your CV

  • These questions will be CV based for you to explain your career path and ambitions
  • Pick out your skills or achievements that are directly relevant, and rehearse these
  • Be prepared to explain any unusual parts of your CV, such as any time taken out from employment or education

2. General questions about you

  • How much do you know about the job?
  • What interests you about the job?
  • What skills or experience do you have that make you right for this job?
  • Why did you leave your last company?
  • What interests you about this company?
  • When have you had an opportunity to show initiative?
  • Who and what were you responsible for in your last job?
  • Can you give an example of when you coped well under pressure?
  • Do you prefer to work as an individual or as part of a team?
  • What are your three biggest achievements so far in your career?
  • What do you see as your good and bad characteristics?
  • What are your long term goals? How are you going to succeed in achieving them?
  • Tell me more about your hobbies and interests?
  • Are you considering any other jobs?

3. Telling you about the company and position

  • Which department the vacancy is in, and how that fits into the company
  • Who you would be working for and with

4. Your questions

  • Asking relevant questions shows you are interested, organised and able to plan ahead
  • Salary and benefits are important, but an employer will be more impressed if you ask questions about the company, the department and the job first
  • Good questions to ask are about training opportunities, who you will report to, who you will be working with, promotion prospects, what the working hours are and if there are peak periods when you will be expected to work longer hours
  • If your really don't have anything to ask, don't ask something stupid just for the sake of it.

5. Informing you of the next stage of the process

  • Whether there is a second or third round of interviews
  • When you will hear if you have been successful or not

Find out about the details of the interview

What is the date, time and location?

Allow plenty of time for the journey and aim to arrive at least ten minutes early. If you are held up, phone ahead and let them know. Do a trial run at getting there if necessary, and don't forget to check timetables or parking availability.

Who will be interviewing you?

Be prepared for the possibility of a panel interview. In a panel interview, answer questions looking from one interviewer to another.

What should you take?

A copy of your current CV and all relevant certificates and references. If you have one, carry a smart briefcase or alike with you. A notepad and pen may also be handy, along with a few questions to ask the interviewer.

Ensure your personal safety

  • Make sure you are happy with the credentials of the recruiting company
  • If the interview is not held at the employer's office, ensure it is in a public place e.g. a hotel foyer
  • Make sure that someone knows where you are being interviewed
  • Make sure you have transport home arranged - do not accept a lift

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