Interview Preparation

An invitation for an interview shows that, on paper, you are the right person required by the organisation for the vacant position. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of candidates are rejected at the application stage so you are really more than three quarters of the way towards getting the job!
Larger organisations will have interviewers who are often personnel professionals, or who are trained and experienced interviewers, so expect the interview to be very structured to obtain the maximum from you. In smaller firms you are more likely to be interviewed by a partner who may not be a trained interviewer. If you are confronted by a ‘bad’ interviewer you will have to work hard to use the questions as a means of conveying the points you wish to make. It can be a good idea to try to steer the conversation towards the topics you have particular strengths in, highlighting your good points.

There are several different types of interview/questioning techniques: –

  • The straightforward chronological interview, where you are asked questions around your CV / Application form
  • Criterion referenced interviews, where you will be asked to give examples of how you meet their criteria e.g., examples of teamwork, negotiating, leadership
  • The off-the-wall questions where you might be asked some bizarre questions. This is to see if you can think on the spot and how creative/logical you are.
  • The pressurised interview where your views will be challenged (or even ridiculed) and you might feel like you are being goaded into an argument. If this happens to you do not lose your cool, it is to test how you react under extreme pressure and to see if you can hold your own without starting a fight or being reduced to tears.

Preparation is essential if you want to do well. Have a look at the checklist:

Stage 1 – Preparation

  • Re-read your resume.
  • Prepare questions to ask and to be asked
  • Work out clothes to wear
  • Rehearse interview
  • Anticipate the obvious questions during the interview
  • Work out a strategy for dealing with stress
  • Read vacancy details, employer’s literature – what they are and what they want
  • Know where the interview will take place

Stage 2 – First Impressions Count

  • Arrive in good time
  • Make a good entrance
  • Body language – handshake, posture, eye contact
  • Smile

Stage 3 – The Interview

  • Be yourself
  • Be honest
  • Be prepared to talk – but not too much
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification
  • Illustrate your answers with examples
  • Be ready to sell yourself
  • Be interesting

Stage 4 – The Final Stage

  • Know when the interview is over – read employer’s body language
  • Thank him/her for his/her time
  • Learn from the experience – ask for feedback if necessary

Questions You May Wish To Ask

The Organisation

  • Major current projects
  • Future developments


  • What you would be doing
  • How long for
  • Typical projects/timescales
  • Variety of work


  • Training offered/possible
  • Help with professional qualifications


  • Who would you work with?


  • Where would you be based?
  • How much travel/mobility


  • Likely progression
  • Where are previous graduates

General Way of Life

  • Accommodation, amenities, limits on free time etc

Questions You Can Prepare For

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why did you choose your degree and what have you gained from it?
  • What has been your most important achievement in life so far? Why?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why have you applied for this job?
  • What do you have to offer us?
  • What are the current issues in this sector of work?
  • What experience do you have of working in a team and what role did you play in that team?
  • Describe a project you have successfully completed.
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Describe a situation you have found difficult. How did you overcome it?
  • What questions would you like to ask us?