How do I prepare for an interview?
Going to an interview is a nerve-racking time, as so much depends on it - it could kickstart your chosen career. Whether it is an interview for your first job after school or college, after a period of unemployment or after a career break, it’s a big deal and we’re here to help you ensure you’re as prepared as can be.
Follow our 10-point plan to impress at interview
Our 10-point plan will give you some useful tips to get you started on your interview preparation.
Read and understand the job spec or course details and be clear in your mind how your skills match up. Write them down so that you have notes to refer to as you rehearse some answers.
Do your research
Using their website and social media accounts (Twitter and Linkedin are great for this), learn more about the organisation you’re applying to. Understand what its key products are, the sectors they work in and what future plans they have. Check out the news section on their website so you have some up-to-date information on what they are involved in.
Plan for common interview questions and answers
Depending on what your interview is for, you can usually predict the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked. Make a list of possible questions and write down your answers – remember you need to ensure you relate your answers to your skills, experience and personal qualities. Think of lots of examples of you highlighting your skills whilst you were at school or college or even from your hobbies. The application form and job spec or course description will help you with this task.
Use the STAR method to structure answers to questions about your skills – the Situation you were in, the Task you had to do, the Action you took and the Result you achieved.
Rehearsing your answers to certain questions can really help on the day itself.
Think of some questions you’d like to ask them
Whilst you’re researching the company and prepping some answers to possible questions, make sure you think of a few questions you can ask them. Better now than face an awkward silence in the interview. A few intelligent questions show the interviewer that you’re interested in them and will show your enthusiasm.
Asking about training and development opportunities is a good question as it shows your long-term thinking and keenness to learn.
Make sure you confirm your attendance
Don’t forget to respond to confirm you will be attending the interview. You can also use this opportunity to request any special requirements such as accessibility.
Make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take
However you plan to travel to your interview make sure you know how long it’s going to take and build in a bit extra just in case. The last thing you want is to arrive late and get off to a bad start.
Plan what you’re going to wear
It’s usually best if you don’t leave it until the day of your interview to decide what you’re going to wear.
If you’re not sure what to wear, think smart/formal and usually a suit (and tie for the men). Above all make sure your clothing is clean, well pressed and no rips. Give your trainers a miss too.
Be polite, smile and listen carefully
As you meet your interviewers don’t forget to smile and appear pleased to be there. Even if you’re feeling nervous, try to appear confident and alert and above all else listen really carefully and think before you answer their questions.
It is perfectly acceptable to take notes into your interview if there are some key things you don’t want to forget, but don’t be tempted to look down at them all the time.
At the end, thank them for their time to show your appreciation.
Ask for feedback
If you are unsuccessful in your interview, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback. They will usually be happy to give it and it will help you identify the areas that didn’t go very well and where you could improve next time.
Learn how to improve the next time
Staying positive is really important and having interview practice will mean you’ll be more prepared for the next one.
Do I need to plan differently for a video interview?
Online interviews have become the norm over the last 12 months, and there are a few additional tips to take on board:
- Download the relevant app (Zoom, Teams etc) well ahead of time and ensure you are familiar with the technology before the day of your interview.
- Choose where you’re going to do your interview – somewhere quiet and away from any distractions.
- Think about your background too and make sure your interviewers won’t be distracted by what’s behind you.
- Enter the call 2-3 minutes before the scheduled time.
- Try to remember to look into the camera of your device rather than looking at yourself on screen – this will help with eye contact.
- Try to treat the interview just like any other – ensuring you’re comfortable with the technology will help.
How Inspira can help you prepare for an interview
Our careers advisers are experts in helping young people on to the career ladder and they are available to give you all the latest careers advice.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting the job of your dreams, give us a call and we’ll arm you with the tools to succeed:
- Information on how to prepare for your interview
- Learn how to research employers/educational institutions in advance
- Understand how to answer interview questions
- Practice answering interview questions
- Run through a mock interview
- How to dress for an interview and other interview tips
You can watch our video for first-hand advice on preparing to succeed at interview.
This is a free service available to anyone over the age of 18 living in Cumbria and North Lancashire (Blackpool, Morecambe, Preston, Fleetwood, Lytham, Leyland), and for those who are at risk of becoming NEET* or NEET*.
*Not in education, employment or training