The Basics: Interviews

Famous 1960s actress Katherine Hepburn once said, “Death will be a great relief. No more interviews”. A lot of people feel a bit like this about interviews, but unfortunately there’s no avoiding them. Read our tips on how to get through an interview with confidence and you never know, you might even end up enjoying it!

What is it?

It may seem like an obvious question but interviews vary so much that one is rarely the same as the other. It could be a panel interview where there are three or more people asking you questions, or a one-to-one situation. The questions could be competency based, motivational based, or a mix. It could be quite formal, or quite relaxed. It could follow a strict structure or be more like a casual chat.

So, while you might have had an interview for a part-time job, or perhaps to get into university, an interview for an internship or graduate job might be very different. The key thing to remember is that whatever form the interview takes the basic aim is always the same: the employer is trying to see if you are the best person for the job (the best qualified, the best experienced and the best personality to fit into the team).


Where do I start?

So, one quick and easy way to help with interview confidence is to remember the 3 Ps.

Preparation. Much of whether you are successful in a job interview is determined before you enter the room.  It’s putting time put into preparing for a job interview which makes the biggest difference.  How can you prepare well?

(a) Research the company.  Every employer wants to feel like you are interested enough in they do to have put effort into finding out about who they are and what differentiates them from others.  Use social media, their website, online magazines and professional body websites to really get to grips with the organisation.  As you read, ask yourself questions such as, who are their competitors?  Who are their clients?  What is their mission?  What do they want to be known for?  What have they done recently that interests me – products/services/deals?

(b) Think about examples for the different skills that the employer is looking for.  Scour the job description for clues on what these are and then take some time to think about when you have used these skills inside and outside of your course. Try and draw your examples from different areas of your life.

Practise. People sometimes struggle to articulate the things that they’ve thought of in their preparation. It’s one thing having a thought and it’s another communicating it clearly to another person. Get a friend to ask you questions or practice saying your answers out loud to yourself.

Power poses. Believe it or not, research shows that the way you sit/stand before you go into an interview influences the chemicals in your body so that you feel either more confidence or more anxious. Finding a private spot somewhere and adopting a power pose for a few minutes before interview can improve your performance. Intrigued?  Hear more on this Ted talk by Amy Cuddy.

I need more help!

Take a look at our website which has loads of information about preparing for interview. You can also find our interview simulator there, where you can practice some of your answers.

There’s also lots of information about interviews in the Careers & Enterprise Centre and once you have an offer of an actual interview you can book an appointment to have a full practice with a Careers Consultant who will give you feedback on your answers. Call 020 7882 8533 or come into WG3, Queens to book an appointment.


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