Interview Practice

Interviews can come in many forms: face-to-face interviews; panel interviews; telephone or video interviews; assessment centres.

You may have to undertake a series of different interviews, as they represent separate elements of an overall process.  For example, you might be asked to undertake an initial telephone interview and, if you are successful, you would then be invited to a more formal interview.

In the Interview: When you enter the interview room greet the interviewers with a warm, friendly handshake, making plenty of eye contact – and don’t forget to smile! In order to continue with that first good impression, when you are in the interview room make sure that you are aware of your body language.  Sit up straight in the chair, don’t fidget, and continue to make lots of eye contact. 

Try to relax and not let nerves affect your performance.  To combat nerves try taking some deep breaths or visualising something positive before going into the interview.  Take in the notes you have made just in case you need them to remind you of a point.

At the end, after you have asked any questions you have prepared for the interview, don’t forget to thank them for their time and shake their hands when leaving the room.

Strengths-Based Interviews

Strengths-based interviews are a new approach that some graduate recruiters are moving towards as a way of finding out what candidates enjoy.  While competence-based interviews focus on what you can do, strengths-based interviews focus on what you like doing.  Everyone has strengths whereas not everyone has the necessary previous experiences to draw upon to answer competency questions.

Candidates are less able to prepare rehearsed answers as in competency interviews, making for a more animated and energised interview process.

The types of question you will be asked in a strengths-based interview may include:

  • What are you good at?

  • What do you learn quickly?

  • What things give you energy?

  • When did you achieve something you were really proud of?

  • Do you prefer to start tasks or to finish them?

  • Do you find you have enough hours in the day to complete all the things you want to do?

  • What things are always left on your to-do list and not finished?

  • What have been some of your achievements and how have you made them happen?

  • Do you think this role will play to your strengths?

How to answer?

The best way to answer strengths-based questions is with honesty.  It is far more difficult to prepare for this type of question.  They don’t have a right or wrong answer, so if you try to respond in the way you think the employer wants, rather than how you actually think or feel, it’s likely that inconsistencies in your body language and a lack of enthusiasm may give you away. When you are describing the things you enjoy your natural enthusiasm will come through in your answers.

Think STAR

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.  Write down the skills 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/context

Task: What did you have to do?

Action: What did you actually do? What skills did you use? Keep the focus on yourself.

Result: What was achieved? What did you learn?




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Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
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