Help! I have an interview!

One of the questions that often gets asked by students is how they can improve their performance in interviews. This is actually quite a tricky topic on which to give advice, firstly because interview types vary so greatly, and also because the number of potential questions that could be asked are vast. However, there’s still a lot you can do!

Be confident

The key factor regarding interviews is that they require a certain amount of confidence. Good posture, body language, smiling and clearly articulating your words will all help – and you’d be surprised how important these factors are – but ultimately the best way to improve your interview confidence is through practice. The Careers & Enterprise Centre provides mock interviews for students, which you can book using the contact details here or alternatively our online interview simulator is a good place to start.

Practice interviews are a great (and relatively stress-free!) way of finding out how well you perform in an interview scenario – and you’ll receive feedback straightaway.

That said, nothing quite beats the real thing. Going to a few interviews, even if the outcome is unsuccessful, will undoubtedly increase your confidence significantly. At the very least, you’ll realise that they’re not as scary as you might have imagined them to be!

Preparation is key

One potential pitfall you do want to avoid is going to your interview underprepared. Preparation requires a number of things: First of all, you should be familiar with the types of questions that come up most often in interviews. You can find a whole host of possible questions here.

You shouldn’t rigorously rehearse your responses to these questions though, as you could come unstuck if the question is phrased in a slightly different way to the one you have practised. But you do want to make sure that you have a number of examples (i.e. evidence of your skills) for each of the main competencies – such as teamwork, communication skills, good organisation, etc. Then you will know which example to draw upon however the question is phrased.

More important than memorising answers is knowing how to answer a competency-based interview question based on your experience. A very common and helpful method for doing this is the STAR technique. You can learn more about it here.

Know the role

An important part of your interview preparation is having a good idea of what the position you’re applying for entails, and also knowing a decent amount about the company or organisation. There should be plenty of information about the position in the information you’ve already been given and which you used for your application. Learning about the company/organisation is pretty straightforward too: visit their website, Facebook or LinkedIn page. Pay special attention to their core values, key principles or mission statement and think about how you can ‘fit’ with the organisation, based on your skills and experience.

Finally – obvious as it may sound – make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before. Like exams, interviews tend to go better if you’re relaxed (but not tired!). Don’t be tempted to cram in as much information as you can, because your interviewers will be more interested in who you are rather than how much you know.

Good luck!


To book a practice interview with a Careers Consultant, call 020 7882 8533 or pop in to the Queens Building Room WG3.


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