An interview is a chance for an employer to meet and assess your suitability for a particular role. Most interviews last between 1 and 2 hours, although telephone interviews can be much shorter.
As well as asking you a series of questions, most interviews will also include a presentation on a specific topic. This will generally be provided prior to your attendance, allowing you a chance to prepare.
Once the formal questioning has finished, the candidate will then be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the interview. This is an important element, as it allows you to acquire more information about the company and the potential training opportunities that may be available.
An interview is a two-way process. The employer will want to know if you have the skills and abilities required to undertake the role, but the candidate can also assess the culture and demands of the position, and will decide if the company is right for them.
Types of Interview
There are several different types of interview:
- 1-1 interview: This is where you will be interviewed by just one person. This tends to be less intense but there is still a need to create a good impression and convey all of your skills and experience.
- Panel interview: In general, these interviews consist of a panel of between 3-4 people. Each panel member will take it in turns to ask you several questions. You must remember to direct your answer to the person who has asked you the question, whilst remembering to make eye contact with the rest of the panel.
- Telephone interview: This will take place over the phone and is often used as a preliminary stage, prior to being asked in for a more formal interview. It is therefore very important to speak clearly and come across as friendly and keen.
- Video Interviews: Many employers are now using this method as it provides an efficient way of filtering applications without having to see candidates in person. Typically, you will be asked to book a time slot (you will be given instructions on how to prepare). You will then be asked to answer pre-recorded questions that appear on screen. You will not be talking directly to someone as you would with Skype. Your responses will be timed.
- Skype interviews: these are often popular when applying for jobs overseas. You need to prepare in exactly the same way as you would with a face to face interview, dressing smartly, choosing a location without distraction and paying careful attention to your body language and communication.
- Assessment Centres: You could be asked to attend an assessment centre for between half a day or up to several days. You may be asked to get involved in group work, psychometric tests, role play, skills assessment and an interview.
How to impress at an interview
The key to a successful interview is preparation. You need to research the organisation and understand what they do, what are their priorities, who are their customers etc. Use the internet and the resources at the Careers Service to gain a clearer picture about the company you are about to apply to.
Try and anticipate the questions they may ask you. Some of the questions will inevitably ask you about your experience, your skills, your understanding of the organisation, your degree and your interests. Look at the job description and specification. Write dwon the skills that they are looking for, and then map your skills against this information. For each skill required, write down examples of situations where you have demonstrated this particular skill.
When answering questions think about the following:
- Situation:Describe the situation that is relevant to the question being asked
- Task: Briefly explain what you had to do and what the success criteria was
- Action: What did you actually do? What skills did you use? Why did you choose that action?
- Result: What was achieved? What did you learn?
- Always wear something smart and clean.
- First impressions are vital so always remember to smile, shake hands, make eye contact and greet people in a friendly and professional manner.
- Leave all bags and personal belongings outside of the interview room. Switch off your mobile phone.
- If you do not understand a question, be sure to ask for clarification.
- Ensure that you have prepared some questions to ask at the end of the interview.
The Careers Service can help you to prepare for your interview. You can make an appointment with a Careers Adviser or call in to one of our drop-in sessions.
For further help with interview techniques please view the following tools and resources:
- Read the Careers Service guide on Interviews.
- Visit the Prospects site for further advice and support on interviews.
- Visit Blue Sky Interview website for information about preparing and succeeding at interviews.
- Visit jobs.ac.uk if you are being interviewed in the Higher Education Sector
- How to look good on a webcam - Youtube clip
- PwC Interview E-learn
- Interview tips from job.ac.uk