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Preparing for Interview

If you have been called for interview, this blogpost will arm you with a few tips and some information and links which will help assist you in your preparation and get the most out of your experience. When you are prepared, you will perform better and be more confident! 

Firstly, remember that it is a huge achievement to get to the interview stage! The employer likes what they see on paper and wants to meet you in person to find out more about you. Try not to get too worried about the process as a whole and take each step one at a time. Look at the opportunity of an interview as a learning experience for the future, regardless of the outcome. 

This blogpost is broken down into various sections, please click on each section below to find out more information.

 When you get an offer of an interview

Nowadays when you get an offer of an interview it’s usually by email. Read the notification carefully and consider any points you wish to address or clarify. 

  • Has the email specified the location, time and date of the interview? Do you know who you are meeting on arrival?
  • Have they stated how many people will be on the panel of interviewers?
  • Have they confirmed that accommodations you have requested will be provided? If you do need accommodations for the interview, have they asked if you require any? If not, you may need to think about how you will phrase this your email reply. 

 You should always respond to the designated contact when you have been offered an interview, even if you decide you will not be attending the interview.

Respond to the offer formally by addressing the email with “Dear …….,” and then state “I am delighted to receive an invitation to interview for the position of …...”. Follow this with confirmation of your attendance and then with any questions or points you would like to address. End your email with “Kind Regards” and your full name.

“Dear Mr.Smith,

I am delighted to receive an invitation to interview for the position of Administrator with 123ABC Ltd.. I would like to confirm my attendance for interview at 11.45am on the 1st January 2020.

Could you clarify who should I ask for on arrival and how many interviewers will be on the panel?

Kind Regards,
Mary Bloggs.”

 Researching the job, company and the sector

The easiest step in preparing for interview is conducting the research, not only on the company but the job, the sector and any current affairs you should be aware of that relates to the job. This information can usually be found online via the company’s website or through their social media channels.  However if there is limited information about the company, try searching on google for keywords.

Example 1 - If you are applying for a job in a bank, find out the division/department the job will be based in, the company itself and any current news, predictions or legislation that may affect that sector.

Example 2 - If you are applying to a disability organisation, find out as much information as possible about what the organisation does and any projects they are involved in.Read any research reports they have produced, take a look at other organisations they work with and current or pending legislation that relates to that sector.

 Preparing your examples

Competency based interviews are becoming more and more prevalent nowadays. This means that you will be assessed on questions relating to your skills and abilities. It is a good idea to look at the job description and highlight the main competencies for the role you have applied for and also think about other relevant competencies such as IT, administration, teamwork, organisation and project management skills.

Competency based interviews assess what you can do by asking you to give examples of a time when you used that skill or competency. Try to come up with 5 examples for each competency from your educational, volunteering or work experience.

You can use the STAR approach to structure your answers:

  • S - Situation - Set the situation or scene and give a little background before describing the task.
  • T - Task – Talk about what you had to do or what was the issue that had to be resolved.
  • A - Action – What actions you took to overcome the task or issue.
  • R - Result – Talk about the results or the outcome of your actions and give a reflection on whether it was positive or negative, what you learnt from it and what you could do differently next time.

Remember, when preparing your answers if you include a situation that refers to a person or an organisation; try not to mention their names or make them identifiable.

Don’t forget to check out the company’s website to see if they have an advice centre for their recruitment. Many graduate employers will have separate graduate recruitment sites and offer advice in applying or what to do when called for an interview with their company.

 The day BEFORE the interview

  • Print out a copy of the offer of interview notification which states who you are meeting, the job description, your CV or application, your answer to examples of competencies and keep these in an orderly manner in a nice folder if you are bringing these to the interview.
  • Prepare yourself for the interview questions by knowing your CV and competency examples. Try these out with a friend or family member, if you are unsure or want to build up your confidence.
  • Research how you are going to get to the interview location and check it out on Google Maps to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. If you are driving, check out traffic restrictions such as one way streets and the availability of parking. Always give yourself at least half hour extra for travel time!
  • Prepare your outfit, ensuring it’s clean, hung up on a hanger so it’s ready to wear the next day. For more information on what to wear to interview, check out this blogpost.
  • Get a good night’s rest! Sleep is very important before an interview as you want to make sure you are fully rested especially if you have an interview that is scheduled first thing in the morning!

 Interview Day! 

  • Make sure you have eaten before your interview as this will make you fell less fatigued, increase your mood levels and you won't get those dreaded hunger pangs during the interview! 
  • When you leave to go to your interview, assume every single person you are passing could be your potential interviewer. There are stories where people got into a road-rage argument with another person on the way to the interview and that particular person ended up being their interviewer! So ensure that you are polite and professional to everyone you pass that day!
  • Arrive in good time, however do not be too early for the interview, 10 minutes prior to your interview time is usually good.
  • Remember to turn off your mobile phone when you have arrived and introduced yourself to reception and do your best!

We hope that these tips have helped give you an overview of each of the steps for preparing for interview.  Remember, preparation is key! 

Good luck! 

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