Job Interviews

Our tips and hints

If you are offered an interview it means all your hard work has paid off and you have made the leap from applicant to a real contender. You are likely to be pleased but also a bit apprehensive. 

Most people react to the news of an interview with some degree of anxiety. Interviews are often regarded as stressful because there’s a lot at stake. There’s also an element of uncertainty and, as human beings, we naturally become nervous when faced with a situation we aren’t in control of. 

  • What should I wear?
  • Who will interview me?
  • How can I deal with interview nerves?
  • What sort of questions will they ask me?
  • What if I can’t think of something to say and make a fool of myself?
  • What questions should I ask them?
  • Your application was good enough to get you to interview
  • On paper, the selector believes you may have the necessary requirements – now you can convince them!
  • It’s an opportunity to find out more about them, and decide if you want the job or course
  • You’ll get valuable interview practice that will be of help in the future
Remember that at this stage, the people who want to interview you see you as a strong prospect. They want you to be successful, look forward to meeting you and know that you are likely to be nervous. 
At the start of the day, your interviewers will be looking forward to talking to enthusiastic and able candidates and to recruiting promising people. 
They want to be impressed and get a feel for how well you will fit in. There is nothing worse for interviewers than to spend a whole day interviewing and have nothing to show for it. So, use the interview to make their task as easy as possible by being friendly and ready to talk about yourself. 

Regardless of their level of experience, interviewers will be ‘matching’ you to the criteria they have established for the job or course. This is no mystery; you have already done this in your application and have met their requirements. 

Interviewers are human beings too and will understand just how anxious candidates can be and will make allowances for this. So don’t panic if you have a memory lapse or if you stumble over an answer occasionally. 

You may be nervous at the start of the interview, but you will probably find that your nerves are controllable and subside as the interview progresses. 

You would be amazed how many candidates turn up for interview not knowing what the organisation or institution does or what the job or course involves -and what a bad impression this creates!

Try using the web, relevant journals and other media to find out as much as you can about the place where you will be working or studying. 

If the interview is for a job or a vocational course, you should research the employment sector you hope to enter and the current issues facing the profession.

  • The services or products the organisation deals with
  • The organisation’s aims and values – what does it say in its ‘mission statement’?
  • How you will fit in with its values. Can you identify its culture?
  • Who its clients/ customers are
  • Who its competitors are and how the organisation compares to them
  • If the organisation has been in the news recently and why?

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. 

  • Be yourself!
  • It is important to be honest throughout the entire application/interview process
  • In the interview, being anybody else but yourself will at some point catch you out
  • Anyway, you are the ideal candidate, so be yourself – if you do not get offered the position then you are not the best match for the job
  • It’s nothing personal – there will be other opportunities out there

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