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The key to performing well in any interview, whether it is face to face, over the telephone or via video, is to prepare well.

The information on this page has been broken down into sections. These cover different types of interviews, key considerations for preparation and what questions to expect. They also include a range of other resources to help you succeed in this part of the recruitment process.

Types of interview

Panel interviews: most recruiters conduct panel interviews, whereby a number of recruiters interview together. Panels may consist of only two people, but can constitute as many as four or more. The secret here is to remain as relaxed as possible and try to include or engage all of the panel members when replying to questions.

Technical interviews: these may include very specific questions relating to knowledge of a particular area, for example - engineering, computing or science. The emphasis will be upon exploring your factual knowledge. You will need to prepare thoroughly and you may be asked to take a practical test.

Video Interviews: these are becoming more popular with employers.  Video interviews are conducted remotely from the interviewer. They are often used for pre-screening prior to progressing to the next stage of selection. These will typically be in the form of Skype or video software.

You will be given guidelines on how to prepare with regard to lighting and screen resolution, but unlike a Skype interview, if you are using other software you may not be communicating with another person. Instead, you may be required to answer pre-recorded questions that appear on the screen. Typically, you will have a short time to prepare your answer, and then a set time to answer.

Telephone interviews: these are used in the early stages of an application process, but could occur at any point. As the name suggests, they are conducted over the telephone, but in most respects can follow the format of a standard interview. Therefore, you still need to prepare thoroughly beforehand.

Remember, as you cannot see the interviewer, it is important to speak clearly. Also ensure that you make or take the call in a place where you will not be disturbed. You may choose to prepare simple notes to use during the discussion. Mind maps work well as they allow for your thoughts to be organised clearly and concisely.

Group: a group interview involves several candidates who will be asked questions in turn. They may ask you to engage in a group discussion on a certain topic or to pose questions to other candidates or the panel.

Key considerations for group interviews may include practising an introduction; arriving early to increase the opportunity to introduce yourself to other candidates; trying to build a rapport; and listening closely to the other candidates and acknowledging their contributions.

Overall, the employer is likely to be looking at how you interact with others and the role you take within a group context.

General resources:

TARGETjobs - offers a summary of different interview types.

Totaljobs- provides an overview of interview advice and interview types.

Prospects- outlines how to prepare for an interview, including information on types of interviews.

Regardless of the type of interview, preparation is key. See the top tips for interview success from our Advisers below.  

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Motivation and suitability

Central to the interview process, will be the employers’ need to understand your reasons for applying to the role.

‘Why do you want to work for us?’

‘What attracts you to this position?’

‘Why do you want this job?’

Researching an Employer is essential if you want your interview to be successful.  The knowledge and understanding you gain through your research will help you perform confidently at interview and show that you have a genuine interest in working for the company.

However the employer chooses to phrase it, do not underestimate the importance of your response to these types of question. By asking motivational questions, the employer is likely to want to establish:

  • What do you know about the company and the position?
  • What evidence do you have to backup your interest??
  • What do you hope to get out of the job, apart from a salary?

The ‘evidence’ you offer to justify and demonstrate your interest needs to be concrete.  Simply stating that you’ve ‘always wanted a career with an organisation like this’ won’t be enough. Consider relevant experience you have gained through internships, projects, university modules or involvement in volunteering and/or activities and societies.    

The recruiter will also want to address some ‘unspoken questions’, including:

  • Do you have a good understanding of what the job role involves?
  • Do you want the job?
  • If you were to take the job, how long would you be looking to stay in the role and with the organisation?
  • Are you serious enough about the job to have carried out thorough research?

Why does good employer research matter?

Knowing about new developments or key issues in the sector you are applying to can help to demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge. Therefore, keeping up to date with industry press etc, is vital in your preparation.  

We have put together our top tips on gathering information about employers and where to do your research.  We have put together our top tips on gathering information about employers and when  Researching an Employer.  

Carrying out thorough research about the organisation will assist you in your response to ‘why do you want to work for us?’.

Consider who the organisation works with, what their mission statement, objectives or values are and what projects they have worked on recently. Aim to relate these to your desire and enthusiasm to work with them.

The employer will also want to ensure your suitability for the role. Review the information provided about the job role, including the person specification and revisit the content of your application.

Ultimately, if you choose not to spend time on your research, you may end up resorting to empty flattery and waffle in your responses. This unfortunately won’t impress the recruitment panel.

We have provided top tips on Researching an employer including what information to look for and where to find it.  In our guide to Targeting employers - Making it personal, you can get advice on how to use your research and experience to make important personal connections and asnwering motivational and suitability questions. 

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Competency-based questions

Competency-based questions are popular with recruiters as they enable them to compare candidates like-for-like. They can also be used on the principle that past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance.  

Whilst competency-based questions can be used by employers across all sectors, competency-based interviews may be particularly favoured by large graduate recruiters who may use them as part of an assessment centre.

Key competencies frequently sought by employers may include:

  • adaptability
  • communication
  • commercial awareness
  • conflict resolution
  • decisiveness
  • independence
  • flexibility
  • leadership
  • problem solving
  • organisation
  • teamwork

Do, however, make sure you refer to the person specification for any additional skills or attributes they may be looking for. These types of questions aim to test a variety of skills and you'll need to answer in the context of actual events.  

Expect questions opening with 'Tell us about a time when you…', 'Give an example of…' or 'Describe how you…'

Examples of competency-based questions include:

  • Give an example of a time when you had to coordinate the work of other people.
  • Describe how your personal planning and organisation resulted in the successful achievement of a personal or group task.
  • Tell us about a time when you had to work effectively as a member of a team.
  • Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace.
  • How do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues?
  • Tell me about a big decision you've made recently. How did you go about it?
  • Give me an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace and tell me how you overcame it.
  • Describe a situation where you solved a problem in a creative way.

How to answer competency-based questions

As a student or graduate, you may have a limited amount of work-related examples to draw upon, but aim to use a different example for each competency you are asked to discuss.

Examples can be drawn from across your experience - study, part-time work, volunteering and leisure interests.

When answering these qestions provide clear examples and analyse the situation.

To enable you to give a thorough response, use the STAR technique:

Situation - Briefly describe the background to the situation - provide the context.

Task - Specifically describe your responsibility.

Action - Describe what you did.

Result - Describe the outcome of your actions and what you could potentially do differently.

Where possible, try to relate you answers to the role that you're interviewing for.

Don't attempt to wing it by thinking on your feet; the quality of your responses will suffer.

Find out more top tips from our advisers below: 

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Strength-based questions

Unlike competency-based interview questions which look at your ability to ‘do the job’, strength-based questions are about predicting your future potential. This will enable the employer to identify what you are particularly good at and what inspires you.

By asking strength-based interview questions, the employer is looking at:

  • How well you are likely to perform in the job role, not just whether you can do it
  • Whether you would be motivated in and energised by the job
  • Your behaviours - including how you typically respond to situations you may come across in the role

The employer will want to ensure that your abilities match the role. Questions may be more personal and allow the employer to gain a genuine insight into your personality and see if you would be a good ‘fit’ for the company.

The questions could be closed (requiring a ‘yes’/’no’ answer), open (requiring a longer answer), hypothetical (focusing on how you would act in a situation), or behavioural (focusing on how you respond).

Some examples of strength-based interview questions include:

  • What motivates you? Or, conversely, what do you find draining or tiresome?
  • What energises you?
  • How do you judge success?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • What has been your biggest failure?
  • Would your friends say you have [a strength/ability, e.g. the ability to learn quickly]?
  • How do you feel when you are faced with a sudden obstacle to your plans? What do you do to resolve it?
  • If a colleague was struggling to make a complex decision, what would you do to help?
  • Do you think this role will play to your strengths?

As with any other interview questions, you will need to include examples to justify and illustrate your responses. Think about specific examples. These can come from your studies, work experience, previous employment, volunteering or extra-curricular activities. It will give you more to talk about and show evidence of previous capability.  

Try to keep in mind what recruiters are looking for in their candidate, but don’t become too focused on this. Research has indicated that when we are motivated by what we are talking about, we tend to give longer, more detailed answers. We also use positive language; so where you can, be natural in your response.

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Value-based questions

Value-based interview questions are becoming increasingly common throughout recruitment processes and across different work sectors. 

The aim of these questions is to enable the recruiter to identify candidates who share the same values as their organisation and to assess their overall ‘fit’ in the workplace. 

Remember, an organisation’s values often define and determine how their employees collaborate, the type of developments they will commit to and the types of people they want to recruit and retain. 

By incorporating value-based interview questions, the employer will be aiming to understand if your priorities align with the organisation’s goals and to find out what drives your behaviour in the workplace. 

Common values that employers may be looking to identify, especially in a corporate environment, may include: 

  • Social responsibility – this includes consideration of social and environmental solutions to business issues and operations. 
  • Integrity – this involves acting with professionalism and transparency and adhering to the organisation’s policies. 
  • Collaboration – working effectively with others to meet shared goals. 
  • Innovation –developing and implementing new ideas to improve the performance of the organisation/business. 
  • Customer/client orientation – working positively to both maintain and increase customer or client satisfaction. 
  • Accountability –taking responsibility for both actions and decisions in team and individual projects.

Examples of value-based interview questions include: 

About the role/organisation 

  • Why does our organisation appeal to you? 
  • What are our core values? 
  • What parts of the role would you find most enjoyable? What aspects would you think might be least enjoyable? 
  • What would be the main rewards for you in this role? 
  • What have you done to find out more about this career area? 

Working with others 

  • Describe a situation where it was important that you worked as part of a team. Why was this important? What was your exact role in the team? What was the result of having a team approach? 
  • Can you describe a situation where you worked in a team and things didn’t work out? On reflection, how would you have handled the situation differently? What did you learn about yourself? 
  • Describe a time your team failed to complete a project on time. What would you do differently if you had the chance?
  • What would you do if you had to work with a person you didn’t get along with?
  • Describe a successful team project you worked on so far. What was your contribution?
  • How would you react if your team received negative feedback about a part of the project that was entirely assigned to you?

Demonstrating commitment/taking responsibility 

  • Describe a situation where you were particularly successful. Why do you think you were successful? What did you learn about yourself? 
  • Outline a situation where you made a mistake. What happened? What would you do differently another time? 
  • Could you give an example where you have learned from feedback? 
  • Provide an example where you actively went out of your way to learn something new in order to achieve a personal goal? 
  • Can you give an example that demonstrates that you have “gone the extra mile”? What was the situation? Why did you do this? What was the outcome? 

Other questions that may link to your values

  • How do you motivate yourself when faced with a task you don’t enjoy? 
  • What do you find most challenging in your studies? What makes it challenging?
  • What do you find most stimulating and why? 
  • Describe a situation where you have demonstrated integrity?
  • Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma at work? If so, what was the issue and what did you do?
  • Describe a situation where you were facing a technical issue and your normal troubleshooting method wasn’t working. What did you do?
  • Describe a time you managed to calm an irate customer. How did you manage to maintain your professionalism and address their complaint?

How can you prepare for value-based interview questions? 

Tip one - study the organisation

Do your research by reading the organisation’s mission statement and their core values. Be prepared to talk about your experiences and feelings in an open manner and question your own behaviours and decisions, as well as reflecting on them.

Explore our section on researching an employer to support you in developing your ideas here

Remember, this type of interview will explore how you behave in certain situations and why you behave in this way in relation to the values of the organisation.
If the employer’s values don’t appear in a dedicated section on their website, be proactive in working out further detail from the recruitment sections of their site, their company news or articles and their ‘about us’ section. 

Tip two - match the values to your skills and approach 

Some employers will break down their values into the behaviours they believe are needed to achieve them. Therefore, when researching an organisation’s values, consider what professional behaviour may be required. 

For instance, HSBC identifies being ‘dependable’ as one of its core values. They break this down into the following:  

  • Standing firm for what is right, delivering on commitments, being resilient and trustworthy.
  • Taking personal accountability, being decisive, using judgement and common sense, empowering others

A second example is the NHS, where they identify a core value as ‘working together for patients’. They break this down as follows: 

  • Patients come first in everything we do. We fully involve patients, staff, families, carers, communities, and professionals inside and outside the NHS. We put the needs of patients and communities before organisational boundaries. We speak up when things go wrong. 

When developing answers to value-based interview questions, aim to use action verbs such as ‘helped’, ‘recognised’, ‘responded’, ‘achieved’, ‘listened’ and ‘considered’. 

These can be useful when identifying terms to describe the behaviours required to support the organisation’s values. 

Tip three - build an evidence bank 

As with other types of interview questions, such as competency-based and strength-based questions, it will be important to consider times throughout your studies, your part-time work experience, placement or extra-curricular activities where you believe you have demonstrated commitment to particular values. 

Aim to note down some solid examples of your behaviour linked to each of the organisation’s values.  

Tip four - things to avoid!

Overall, when addressing these types of questions, remember…

  • Not to be vague about your values – be confident in how your individual principles, ethics and behaviours align with and can support the work of the organisation. 
  • Not to challenge or question the merit of the employer’s values – these are likely to be fundamental to the organisation’s work, so to question them is likely to jeopardize the success of your interview performance.  
  • Not to be cynical, flippant or insincere in your responses – an interview panel will be able to identify when a candidate is not being genuine as they will not be able to justify their response or offer examples of where they have previously demonstrated a commitment to the value(s). 

Weaknesses, failures and resilience

If employers want to know about your strengths, they will almost inevitably want to know about your weaknesses. This can also be about establishing whether you can learn from mistakes and how resilient you are.

Questions around weaknesses or failures can be framed differently, but may include:

  • What has been your biggest failure to date and what did you learn from it?
  • Identify three of your main weaknesses.
  • Describe a time when something didn’t work out as you had planned. What did you do and what did you learn from it?
  • Tell us about a mistake you’ve made.
  • How do you deal with setbacks?

Remember, these types of questions are also good ways to test your problem-solving skills and assess how aware you are of your own areas for development.

When discussing weaknesses, you can positively frame your answer by picking characteristics that you have actively taken steps to improve. For example, self-confidence issues could have previously led to difficulty accepting criticism; but tell the interviewer that you've learned to embrace constructive feedback as it allows self-improvement.

Avoid saying that you have no weaknesses, that you're a perfectionist, or that you work too hard. These are generic responses that may be interpreted by the employer as being indicative of a lack of self-awareness.

When addressing questions about failures and/or mistakes, employers may be looking for you to reflect on your experiences. Again, frame your response positively.  Evidence how you have been proactive in changing your behaviours.

Resilience can be described as the ability to overcome barriers, to adapt to problems in different contexts and to develop appropriate solutions.

Resilience is increasingly seen as a desirable attribute sought by graduate employers. Therefore, they may design some of the questions during the recruitment process to assess this. Similar to questions about weaknesses/failures, they may ask:

  • How do you respond to setbacks?
  • How do you cope with pressure?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with someone you didn’t agree with.
  • How would you respond if you received negative feedback from your manager?
  • Outline an example of when something didn’t go to plan. What action did you take and what do you feel you learnt from the experience?

Remember, an employer is not expecting you to be ‘superhuman’. Don’t be afraid to talk about examples of where you had needed to ask for help. Resilience is not about being unaffected by stress or by pressure. It is about the ability to recognise this and build upon coping strategies to manage it. Resilience is not a static quality.  

In applying this to your suitability as a candidate, the employer may be gauging your ability to adapt to a new workplace and role. They will also assess your ability to take a logical approach; to think innovatively; to take ownership; and to not give up at the first hurdle!

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Scenario-based questions

The questions asked within interviews will not be limited to your motivation, competencies and strengths. Employers use a range of questions and may choose scenario-based or situational questions to diversify the interview process.  

These questions are designed to see if you can think on your feet and will ask you how you would deal with a particular situation. Rather than being asked to describe a past experience, you’re presented with a hypothetical scenario.  
The interviewer may start out with a more ambiguous prompt, such as “How would you respond to…?” or“How would you deal with…?”

Examples include:

  • You are due to be delivering an event as part of your role, but find that you are short-staffed. How would you manage this?
  • You are managing the front reception desk and you need to deal with an angry and disgruntled customer. How would you respond to them?
  • Two important colleagues within the organisation demand your attention at the same time. What would you do?
  • How would you handle it if you believed strongly in a recommendation you made in a meeting, but most of your co-workers shot it down?
  • How would you deal with a colleague at work with whom you seem to be unable to build a successful working relationship?
  • You disagree with the way your supervisor says to handle a problem. What would you do?

Remember, the employer is looking for logical thought in your response and requires you to demonstrate your analytical and problem-solving skills.

There is not a right or wrong answer scenario-based or situational questions. However, you must provide a clear plan of action about how you would deal with such a situation.

Where you can, back up your answer by justifying the actions you are proposing - what is your thought process behind this? To support colleagues? To follow procedures? To manage expectations of others? Or to limit the impact on the workplace and individuals involved.

Whilst it can be tricky to prepare for these types of questions, it is important to think through the types of situations you may find yourself in based on the role description. Also consider the skills and qualities they may be looking for in their suitable candidate based on the person specification.

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Technical questions

For some job roles, the employer will be looking for you to demonstrate a technical skills set. These questions are more common for particular career sectors, including scientific, engineering or technology-based roles.  

They are designed to assess specialist skills which will be essential to perform effectively in the job role. Some employers will favour a separate technical interview, whilst others may prefer to embed technical questions within a general interview for candidates.

Some key considerations when preparing for technical questions may include:

  • Know the foundations of your subject inside out - the employer is likely to ask you in-depth questions about the course and the units or subject areas you have covered. Therefore, make sure you revise the basics and pay particular attention to topics that directly relate to the organisation’s area of work.
  • Be confident in talking about the projects and assignments you have worked on - interviewers will focus on project work to assess your ability to carry out independent work, manage your workload and solve problems related to a specialist area. In offering a brief summary of your project work, discuss the challenges you faced, how you overcame any problems and talk positively about the outcome(s).
  • Consider how you will explain technical concepts - whilst some of your interview panel may be familiar with technical terminology and concepts, other individuals, for example, may be interested in how you can convey complex ideas in a simplified and concise way.
  • Demonstrate knowledge about developments in the sector/industry area - showing an understanding of recent trends and developments, for instance, advances in types of technology used by the employer, will highlight your interest and enthusiasm in working with them. Also consider the employer’s activities in line with these.
  • It won’t always be about getting the correct answer - whilst there will be some specific, knowledge-based questions, the employer may also ask you to comment on a range of scenarios or hypothetical scenarios. You may not always be sure of the correct response to these questions, but aim to show the interviewer how you might approach the problem or how you might source the correct information or support.

A technical interview or technical questions will focus on how you communicate technical ideas and information. They do not require you to know and be able to recall everything. Therefore, if during the interview process you are unclear about a question, have the confidence to ask for further clarification.

If you feel you are struggling to convey information, perhaps ask for a piece of paper to sketch out or produce a diagram to expand upon your response. This may be particularly relevant for engineering-based roles.

Top tips for technical interviews

  1. Where you can, avoid using jargon. Assume that your interviewees have limited knowledge so that you don’t miss basic, but vital information.
  2. When discussing your experience and achievements, make sure you focus on your own contribution.
  3. Listen to the questions carefully before starting to respond and be confident in asking for clarification, where necessary.
  4. Don’t forget, even if it is a technical interview, the employer will still be looking for you to evidence and demonstrate transferable skills, such as communication and personal skills. You need to show that you can work well with others and communicate your ideas clearly.

Technical question resources:

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General questions and typical difficult questions

Hopefully your interview will run smoothly, however, it is good to spend a little time thinking about how you would go about dealing with ‘difficult’ questions.

Whilst people may find certain types of questions more challenging, we’ve identified some common areas where we believe greater preparation may be needed.  

  • Some recruiters may pose the question ‘Tell me about yourself…?'

How to respond to this question: this may be used by an employer as a warm-up question; easing you into the interview process. However, don’t underestimate the importance of your response to this. Your answer needs to find a good balance between showing your personality, whilst still reflecting the focused, professional self that you intend to convey throughout the interview.

View this as an opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer. You could outline your academic and professional journey to the point of your interview, ensuring that you include information about your skills and attributes. You may also discuss an interest or hobby you have.

  • Most organisations  will want to know your response to Why do you want to work for us?’

How to respond to this question: this relates to your motivation for applying to the role. Make sure before attending an interview that you are clear about why you want to work with the organisation. Consider, not only what they actually do, but the direction of the organisation and how you as an employee would help them in achieving their goals.

Good employer research plays a vital role here. This is not simply a case of looking at what appears on the company homepage, but demonstrating a genuine understanding of the employer overall - their values, strategy, structure and place within their sector.

  • Some employers may ask ‘Where do you expect to be in five years’ time?’

How to respond to this question: this is a question that allows you to show off your employer research and your understanding of your career progression. Aim to convey your enthusiasm, without coming across as arrogant. Tailor your response to reflect the nature of the organisation, the sector or industry, and your own experiences and skills. Overall, you will want to demonstrate your commitment to your career path, the company and to hard work. 

  • In addition to wanting to establish your key strengths, some employers may ask you ‘What are your weaknesses?’

How to respond to this question: the trick here is to positively frame your answer by picking characteristics that you have actively taken steps to improve. 

For example, self-confidence issues could have previously led to difficulty accepting criticism; but tell the interviewer that you've learned to embrace constructive feedback as it allows self-improvement.
Overall, these questions will be aiming to test your problem-solving skills and assess your self-awareness.

  • Sometimes scenario-based questions may deal with an issue of conflict.

How to respond to this question: this type of question is difficult because it challenges you to address the issue of conflict directly. The employer will be looking for you to demonstrate awareness of some common sense principles for reducing the risk of conflict, how to handle it when it occurs and putting in place measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  • 'Why do you think you will be successful in this job?'

How to respond to this question: remember, this isn’t an invitation from the recruiter to boast. They will be expecting you to match and discuss your strengths and qualities to the requirements of the role. Try to keep your response specific - why are you suited to this job, as opposed to another? Ensure that you have considered how your skills, interests and experience link to the job role and the company.

  • Some questions may aim to clarify information that you have included within your application form or on your CV.

How to respond to this question: simply make sure you have re-read your application content prior to interview and make sure you are happy and confident in answering any related questions.

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Preparing for a presentation

Presentations are an increasingly popular element of the candidate selection process. The experience that you gain throughout your time at university will enable you to develop your presenting skills. However, whilst course presentations are used for demonstrating and sharing your knowledge, presentations as part of a selection process are likely to be used as a medium to assess other things as well.

Why might you be asked to do a presentation?

  • To assess your knowledge
  • To assess your communication (and specifically, your presentation) skills
  • To see how you perform under pressure
  • To assess your ability to research, plan and prepare
  • To measure your motivation

It is therefore important that you are not only secure in the knowledge that you need to share, but that you are able to present that information in a professional and confident manner. Careful preparation and planning, coupled with practice, will enable you to become more confident and thus more able to give your best on the day.

Find out further information about preparing presentations at:  

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Presenting yourself

Alongside essential preparation, making a good impression on the employer will be key to your success. People tend to form an opinion of someone new within a few seconds of meeting them, so you need to ensure your appearance works in your favour by dressing the part and presenting yourself in the best possible light.

Some winning interview techniques include:

  • Dress code/self-presentation: What you wear and how you look are essential elements as to whether an interviewer gains a good first impression of you. Check the dress code and if you’re not sure always opt for smart over casual. Other considerations include avoiding too much jewellery or make-up; using aftershave or perfume sparingly; and ensuring you have washed and ironed your outfit.
    Different industries or sectors may have slightly different dress codes, but even so, formality in an interview situation is likely to be preferable. Even in creative industries, where day-to-day office wear may be more informal than in finance or law, for instance, candidates will still be expected to dress smartly.

  • Being positive: Be polite and well-mannered with any staff you come into contact with before, during and after the interview process. Avoid speaking negatively about previous employers and/or experiences.

  • Good body language: three key areas to consider are your eyes, your mouth and your hands!

Eye contact - Making and maintaining a good level of eye contact will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are engaged in what they are saying. Aim for an open, confident gaze, rather than a fixed stare - both at the start of the interview and throughout.  

Smiling - Interviewers and other staff members that you come into contact with during the process will respond positively if you present yourself with a smile on your face. Whilst the butterflies may be fluttering away inside, smiling will help to break the ice and should make individuals more receptive to what you are saying.

The handshake - This can make a lasting impression on the interviewer. Aim for the middle ground - a firm handshake with the employer that shows a commitment to the greeting.

  • Showing confidence: It is natural to feel nervous, however, it is important to show you can manage anxiety in difficult situations. Remember, to take a deep breath and don’t feel pressurised to rush any of your responses. The employer will look forward to finding out more about you and ultimately wants you to do well.

Find out more top tips for interview success from our Advisers below. 

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Practical considerations

It may seem like common sense, but don’t overlook the basics. When you are sent the information by the employer regarding your interview make sure you carefully read over the details provided. Check the following:

  • The location - be clear about where the interview is hosted. Note down the full address and postcode and where possible familiarise yourself with what the building looks like externally by researching it online.
  • Google Maps - using Google Maps will be one of the best ways to familiarise yourself with the location and your journey. Utilise it to work out your route, including using public transport, walking or driving to your destination.
  • Journey time - time management is likely to be a crucial skill that the employer will be looking for in their candidate. Therefore, planning your journey to ensure that you arrive on time, or preferably early, will be essential. Google Maps is also a good tool to help you with this.
  • The name of your main contact - having arrived on time and in the right place, aim to present yourself to reception with the name of your contact for the interview. This information is likely to be provided in the correspondence sent by the employer. If you are not sure of the individual’s name, make sure you explain the purpose of your visit to the organisation clearly.

By ensuring you are familiar with all of the above, this should mean that you don’t arrive flustered. Remember, first impressions count.

It will also ensure that you have some time to yourself to refocus and mentally prepare yourself for the interview process itself.

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Disability disclosure

The decision whether to disclose a disability to an employer is often a personal one and may be based on a number of factors such as the nature of the disability and the demands of the role being applied for.

If necessary, speak with a careers adviser or contact the employer directly before sending in any applications and/or attending interviews to discuss any support that may be required during the selection process or in the role itself.

Further advice and information

There are also numerous sources of information and advice that you could use, such as:

  • TARGETJobs provides guides on key diversity issues including gender, race and disability with advice on how to identify diversity 5 positive employers, decide how and whether to disclose your circumstances, and get an understanding of your rights.
  • MyPlus Students’ Club offers practical advice to students as they search and apply for jobs and prepare for the recruitment process. Topics covered include essentials such as disclosing a disability, requesting adjustments, gaps in the CV, lack of work experience etc. The site also lists employers who are 'great with disability' and enables them to share information about the support they offer.
  • GOV.UK provides information on government services and information and includes a section for disabled people.

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Questions to ask the employer

The interview is also your opportunity to find out more about the organisation. At the end of the interview process, the employer will offer you the opportunity to ask them any questions you may have. Anything that you ask should cover the work itself or career development.

Prepare some questions in advance, but don’t panic if all your queries have been answered - mention this positively. Remember to ask questions if the moment naturally arises during the interview itself.

 Examples of good interview questions to ask the employer may include:

  • What support does the organisation offer to new graduates?
  • How often is a graduate’s performance appraised?
  • What development plans does the organisation have?
  • What is a typical career path in this job role?
  • What are the company’s expectations of the role?
  • What will the priorities be?
  • What’s your experience of working for this organisation?
  • What challenges do you see in the role?
  • What do you think will be the major challenges facing this company over the next three years?

Another key question to ask, may be is there anything I have missed?

 You may find that following an interview you leave cursing yourself for not mentioning a key piece of information. Therefore, by asking this question, you have the opportunity to ensure everything has been covered. This may also help to solicit some initial feedback from the employer about how the interview has gone. This can also offer the interviewer an opportunity to prompt you on an areas they want to find out more about.

You want to avoid undoing all of the good work you have done in answering the interview questions by undermining them with ill-fitting, inappropriate questions at the end. Remember, an interview is not the time to ask questions about pay, benefits or perks as it may come across as too self-interested.  

As part of the recruitment process you may also be given other opportunities to ask questions. For  example, talking to other staff outside of the formal interview. You may be introduced to a recent graduate to chat about their job, taken on a tour round the building or be joined by other staff for lunch. Utilise this opportunity to find out more about the employer and/or role. Appropriate questions in this context might include:

  • What job do you do and what does this involve?
  • What type of products/projects/cases do you work on?
  • How long have you been working with the organisation?
  • Did you start in your current role as a graduate?
  • Is this a friendly place to work? Are there social events or other activities to get involved in?

It may be that the interview panel will seek feedback from everyone who has come into contact with you throughout your visit. Therefore you need to be aware of what you ask and how you come across in more informal situations. Remember, they will be looking for a ‘good fit’ for their organisation and team.

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Seeking feedback after interviews

The job-hunting process is a challenging task and in itself requires high levels of resilience. If you’re facing rejection following an interview, it is important not to let this knock your confidence.

Try to remain positive about the experience. Both your preparation and your performance will have allowed you to reflect on important areas, such as your experiences, skills and motivation.


  • It is very rare for a candidate to be offered the first and only job they have applied for. It is likely you will have a number of rejections and resilience and self-belief will ensure you continue to apply.
  • To assist you with preparation for your next interview, seek feedback from the employer if you are unsuccessful. This will help you to identify and address any weaker areas and build on your strengths moving forward.
  • Send your contact at the organisation an email within a week of the rejection, politely thanking them for their time. Ask what you did well and where your application and/or interview fell down. This can help you approach the next one more confidently.

Boosting your employability
Being unemployed for a period following graduation or even further down the line need not be viewed negatively.

Embrace this opportunity to continue developing your employability. Consider internships, learning a new language, volunteering in the local community or (finances-permitting) travelling abroad. All of these activities will allow you to continue developing content to improve your CV and future applications.  

If you are local to the Portsmouth area then you can look to source volunteering opportunities through our Volunteering Team. These opportunities are advertised through MyCareer which you can access through either a student or graduate account.

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Need more help and information?

If you need further support and advice about interview preparation then you can speak with an Adviser as part of our drop-in service.

To book a full mock interview, please call us on 02392 842684 or come into the Careers and Employability Centre to book.

Remember, if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or Google Hangouts appointment - please contact us to discuss your needs.

Helpful resources

There are a range of alternative resources available online that may be helpful in allowing you to prepare effectively for interviews. Please see a range of resources below:

  • Prospects - offers advice on interview techniques with links to further content on interview questions; questions to ask at interview; interview tests and exercises; and tips for telephone interviews.
  • TARGETjobs - provides an overview of different types of interviews with articles and blog content on strategies and techniques.
  • TARGETjobs - also hosts a range of information based on the sector you are looking to get into. Visit a sector tab a ‘VIEW ALL ADVICE’ to find information relevant to your job search area.
  • The Guardian Careers - hosts a range of articles and blog items on careers, CVs and interviews.
  • Jobsite UK - hosts blog items on a range of interview techniques and scenarios.
  • Pinterest - visit the pinboards created by the Careers and Employability Service highlighting useful advice, links and infographics about interviews.
  • - interview and application form insights for some of the UK's top employers.
  • CareerPlayer - offers a range of video and written content, providing interview advice and tips.

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