As part of your preparation, re-read the job or course description again so that you have a good understanding of exactly what is involved and what will be expected of you.
Try to anticipate the key questions you might be asked by the interviewer, list what you can offer and identify concrete examples of your suitability for the job or course you are applying for. Most importantly, you will need to think about how you can tailor your answers to what the selector is looking for.
A key part of interview preparation is thinking about the topics and questions that may come up and how you can use the opportunity to market yourself as the most suitable candidate. This kind of preparation is difficult and quite time consuming, but if you can’t honestly say you’ve thought through what the job/study/research would involve and how best you could meet its demands, then you shouldn’t really complain if you don’t succeed at interview.
The questions that an interviewer asks are likely to be quite detailed and some may be hypothetical. They are likely to be based around key topic areas such as:
- your skills, education, abilities and personal qualities
- your knowledge of the job/study/research you are applying for
- what you know about the organisation and the industry or subject area it operates within
- your motivation for applying, along with your work or study preferences and interests
- your work experience
It may help to note what the recruiter is looking for from the job or course description and then write down bullet points of how you meet this criteria.
Here are two examples if you are attending an interview for a job
|Skills, knowledge, experience etc||How I match the requirements|
|Must be able to provide excellent customer service||Staffed the customer service desk at BestEverFoods and maintained a helpful, approachable manner.|
Dealt with a broad spectrum of customers via face-to-face and phone enquiries.
Thanked by my manager for going out of my way to help an elderly customer who had lost her purse and was very upset. Kept calm, found her a seat, put out a call to all staff to be on the look out and retraced her steps. Found her purse in the cafe where she had been sitting.
|Must have experience of using Google forms||As part of my work experience at Redlink Outfits I was asked to create a Google form asking colleagues to prioritise their training requirements for the next year.|
Hadn’t used Google forms before, so researched it thoroughly via Google support and liaised with my line manager to make sure that I understood the requirements.
Colleagues were able to input their requirements into the form and I analysed the data, producing a summary of key training requirements for the next year.
Here’s an example if you are attending an interview for a course
|Skills, knowledge, experience etc, required for the MA in Social Work||How I match the requirements|
|Must have suitable experience. The experience must demonstrate your potential for social work, so it must be sufficient in quantity to test your commitment.||Have volunteered as a care worker for over a year at the Tulip Residential Respite Home for disabled children, aged 5 – 10 years.|
Provide another pair of hands to support staff during music sessions and story time. Bring in pop music from the latest bands requested by the children and teach them the words to sing along to, whilst also playing percussion. Also, organise a regular story time session and try to vary the books to suit the tastes of all the children. Often act out the stories to make it more enjoyable and engaging.
|An ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet browsing and email, is also essential.||A confident user of most standard IT packages including Microsoft Office. Used Word throughout my degree in sociology to write essays and reports. Used Excel to produce spreadsheets and statistics to support my dissertation “Class and culture in Scandinavia”.|
Used online journals and e-books within the library to support my research.
Daily user of email and social media such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to maintain professional and personal contacts.