Congratulations on getting to interview stage. After impressing your prospective employer with your covering letter and CV/application form, you are now ready to begin preparation for your interview.
Do your homework - research into the organisation you are applying to is crucial. It’s vital that you visit the company’s website and find out exactly what they do, what their mission/vision is, and – where appropriate – what their strategic plans are. You could also contact them and ask them for an information pack to read through. You could also take a look at some examples of Interview Questions and practice answering them before the big day. It’s likely that your interviewer will ask what you know about their organisation and being able to answer this question accurately will show that you are truly interested in their organisation and how it operates.
You might also want to Google search the people who will be interviewing you – just to get an idea about their backgrounds, job roles, and particular interests & connections.
Plan your journey - Being late for an interview can be embarrassing and stressful. To avoid this from happening, plan your travel arrangements and leave early to ensure you’re on time. If you’re delayed, keep your interviewer informed of your situation.
Make a good first impression - Make sure you are smartly dressed and what you are wearing is appropriate. Try not to wear anything that will be uncomfortable or that will make you feel self-conscious. First impressions are lasting so when you first meet your interviewer, look them in the eye and shake their hand firmly and don’t forget to smile!
Be yourself - Let your personality shine through. This will make you more memorable to interviewers and they’ll be able to tell whether or not you will be a good fit for their organisation. Just being yourself will show them who you are whilst making you feel more at ease in the process.
Ask questions - Usually, at the end of an interview you will be asked if you have any questions. It’s always good to have a few written down in a notebook and it’s even better if you can use this opportunity to show further that you have researched the organisation thoroughly.
Stay calm - If your interview doesn’t go just how you planned it, don’t panic. The interviewer might ask you a question that might throw you slightly. If you don’t know how to answer it straight away, ask your interviewer for a moment to think about it and compose yourself. The interviewer will understand that you’re nervous. It’s natural to be slightly tense during an interview but it’s important that you don’t let nerves get the better of you.
Display positive body language - Try not to slouch or fidget too much during your interview. Sit up straight and maintain good eye contact with your interviewer(s) to make sure you leave a good impression. Smile, nod, maintain eye contact and be responsive to what the interviewer is saying in order to show your interest in the job.
Listen carefully to questions - Make sure that you listen carefully to each question asked and answer appropriately. You may have prepared answers to some of the questions asked but be careful not to give a response that is not relevant. Good communication skills are usually desirable for any role and the ability to listen is an extremely important quality which you can demonstrate by answering your interview questions appropriately.
At your interview, you will be asked many different questions designed to explore your suitability for the role. The key to answering these questions successfully is to make sure that you are prepared.
- Examine the job description and the organisation’s website in order to understand what kind of person they are looking for.
- Consider any relevant skills, qualifications and experience you have and think how you could apply these to the role.
- Remember that this is a good opportunity for you to find out whether the organisation is right for you too, so write down a few questions to ask your interviewers at the end.
Typical questions asked - although these can be worded slightly differently, there are a few questions which are likely to pop up in any interview.
Tell us about yourself - Ok so this isn’t really a question, but it gives the interviewee the chance to introduce themselves to the interviewers. Here, you should give a brief outline of where you are from and where you want to be going. Use your CV as a starting point and remember to keep your answer short (2-3 minutes at the most).
Why have you applied for this role? Say what you know about the position and explain how it complements your own experience, skills and interests (i.e. what made you think you were suited to this role).
What attracted you to this organisation? Research, again, will come in handy in response to this question. Talk a bit about what you know about the company and how certain characteristics of it appeal to you. Perhaps talk about the company’s history, goals and what their services are.
Tell us about a time when you had to work under pressure? Your interviewer here is trying to find out how you deal with stressful situations. Use an example to outline the problem and let them know how you dealt with it.
Tell us about a time when you had to resolve a conflict within a team? This question is to find out how well you work within a team, particularly when a conflict arises. Briefly describe the structure of the team and the role you played within it. Then explain how you worked to overcome issues in the team and what the eventual outcome was.
Can you give us an example of when you’ve had to give feedback to someone? Use this question to sell your coaching abilities and how you have worked to develop another person’s skills. The interviewer is trying to find out what sort of person you are, whether you shy away from giving feedback to someone or whether you are skilled in giving tactful responses. Explain how the employee responded and the result.
(The above are competency based questions which are often used to identify whether you have the particular skills that a role requires – they usually ask you to give examples from your own work history that demonstrate that you possess these skills)
If you’re not sure how to answer a question, try not to panic. Ask for a moment to think, or request that the interviewer repeats the question, if you need them to. The interviewer will understand and should give you the time you need to gather your thoughts.