Interviews: the basics

When it comes to interview preparation some things go without saying: it is important to be smartly dressed and on time. It is important to know where you're going, who you're meeting and to have prepared by reading any documents you have been sent.

A key determinant of success in an interview will be attitude. Applicants should aim to be polite and positive at all times. Being positive is particularly important, and this includes being positive about yourself, positive about the job you are applying for and positive about your previous experiences (college / work).

Preparing for interviews

If you get to interview stage you are no longer simply trying to show that you can do the job, but that you would be the best at the job (as opposed to other candidates). Interviews are competitive and it is important to put time into preparing for them. 

There are some key areas you need to be clear about before an interview:

  • Why would you be the best person for this job?
  • What skills and experience do you have that is relevant for the job?
  • What is it about this particular job, with this particular organisation that makes you interested in it?


Practising questions

Key to preparation is practising possible questions. Practising questions is important because it helps you to be clear about what you are saying and why, and makes it less likely that you will 'forget' important information in the interview itself. It also helps you to talk yourself into why you are the right person for the job, and to feel confident in how you present yourself.

The stages in practising are:

  1. Identify possible questions - our advice sheet gives you some suggestions, and there are other useful links given below.
  2. Pick a question and brainstorm the content of your answer.
  3. Talk yourself through your answer
  4. Consider, if you were the employer what would you think of this answer?
  • Is it strong / positive enough?
  • is there anything that would concern you?
  • Is it consistent with other answers and what you know from the application form or CV?
  • Talk yourself through your answer again, polishing off the rough edges until you're happy enough with it.
  • Try another question or variant of a question.


Further information

Further information on preparing for interviews is given on our advice sheet.

Be prepared for your next interview with Glassdoor.


Interview tips are also available on the prospects website.

Example questions can be found from Howtobooks

'Be my interviewer' gives examples of questions from real recruiters and public figures with tips on how to answer them.

Mock interivews are available to all students and graduates within two years of graduating. Interviews are held with our careers adviser either over the telephone or via videoconference - use our SPEAK TO AN ADVISER service to arrange an appointment.