Job interviews now take many forms, and it is vital to be well-prepared in order to deliver the best impression to a prospective employer. Following is a series of resources that will help you with your preparation and performance.
Career Development and Employment Services has partnered with InterviewStream™ to offer the latest in virtual mock interview technology. This service will allow you to:
- conduct and record virtual mock interviews from any space (including smartphones) with an internet connection and a webcam
- review practice interview recordings with structured self-assessment.
Access InterviewStream™ - Login to MyCDES and find the 'Interview Stream' link under Shortcuts on the home page.
InterviewStream is best viewed with the Firefox browser.
Once on the InterviewStream™ home page, get started with the InterviewStream™ User Guide under “Helpful Resources”, as well as a video tutorial that walks you through the virtual mock interview process.
We encourage you to take advantage of this technology (now used by a number of the top US business schools) to gain both fresh insight and added competitive advantage via the service on your ‘soft’ presentation and interview skills.
Interview workshops and practice interviews
CDES hold interview workshops regularly in the Clock Tower (for all students) and in faculties (with specific industry information and examples)
A Career Development Consultant can conduct a practice interview, but you need to attend a workshop beforehand
Key principles of interviewing
Try to find out as much as you can about the interview when you are given notification, as this knowledge may give you a vital edge over other applicants.
Types of interviews include:
- One-to-one interview
- Panel interview (two or more interviewers)
- Speed interviews
- Social events
- Assessment centres
- Psychometric and selection tests
- Behavioural interviews
Before the interview
- Learn more about the company - Research the company. Check out their website and brochures. Talk to people who work there, if you can.
- Analyse the job - Think about why you're ideal for the job. Analyse the job advertisement or description. What is the employer looking for? What can you offer?
- Prepare answers and questions - Prepare answers to some common interview questions. What sort of person are you? Why do you want the job? What can you offer the company? What are your career goals? Your strengths and weaknesses?
- Prepare some examples for behavioural type questions.
- Prepare your own questions to ask about the job and the company.
- Plan your travel to the interview - Don’t add to the stress of the interview day. Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early.
- Dress well - Make sure you look your best - it is best to err on the side of caution. The job interview is a formal process leading to a legal employment agreement, so it is a good idea to reflect this in what you wear to the interview. If you are applying for a position in a company where a high standard of dress is expected, then aim to match the culture of the company, whether there is a dress code or not.
During the interview
Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. Be positive and enthusiastic in your body language and tone of voice. Be conscious of your body language. Sit in a relaxed, open way. Maintain eye contact.
Give detailed and specific answers
Give relevant and specific information that shows you are an ideal candidate for the job.
Ask if you're unsure
If you're not sure what the interviewer has asked, then ask them to repeat the question. Take some time to think of your answers, if you need to.
Show your interest
Ask questions that show your interest in the job and company.
Close the interview well
Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet them. Shake hands again and establish when you can expect to he
After the interview
- Send your thanks
You may like to send a thank you note, card or email to the interviewer. This is courteous and may help them to remember you.
- Think about how you did
Review the interview — reflect on what went well and what you could do differently next time.
- Ask for feedback
After you have been told of the outcome of the interview, you may like to ask the employer for feedback on your interview performance.
Common interview questions
"Tell me a little about yourself."
- Give an overview of your experiences – try and make three specific points.
- Include education, work (paid and voluntary) and extra-curricular activities, but don’t just rehash your CV – try and give more depth.
- Keep your answer to 1-2 minutes.
"What do you know about our organisation?"
- Let your answer show that you have taken the time to do some research, but don't overwhelm the interviewer.
- Make it clear that you wish to learn more.
- Give your answer a positive tone.
- Explain why your goals and those of the organisation are a good match.
"Why do you want to work for us?"
If you are asked this question, you can demonstrate what you know about the company and show you have done your research.
- Link your experience, knowledge and skills to the company/position to show that you are a good fit to the company.
- You might say your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that it's doing them in ways that interest you e.g. if the organisation is keen for strong management, your answer should mention that fact
- If the company places a great deal of emphasis on research and development, emphasise the fact that you want to create new things and that you know this is a place in which inventiveness is encouraged.
Employers are interested in people who want to join their organisation, rather than just get a job.
"What do you look for in a job?"
- Keep your answer oriented to the opportunities within that organisation.
- Talk about your desire to perform and be recognised for your contributions.
- Orient your answer towards opportunities rather than personal security.
"What are your strong points?"
- Use concrete relevant examples to illustrate.
- Try to relate your answer to the interviewing organisation and the specific job opening.
"What are your weak points?"
- Don't say that you have none.
- Show that you are working on your weaknesses, e.g., taking a course, planning your time more.
"What are your long term goals?"
- Relate your goals to the company you're interviewing for, e.g. "In a firm like yours, I would like to..." e.g. specialise, gain a management role.
"What important trends do you see in our field?"
Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry.
You might consider:
- Technological challenges or opportunities
- Economic conditions
- The current competitive situation
- Regulatory demands related to the direction in which the field is heading
"What can you do for us?"
An employer might ask, "What can you offer our company?"
Before the interview you should identify the skills, experience and knowledge the employer is looking for. Then think of your skills and personal qualities that match, and provide relevant examples.
Behavioural interviews are the most common form of interviewing. They involve questions about your past performance. Behavioural interviews are based on the idea that past behaviour is the best predictor of future performance.
- A theoretical question asks: "What is your approach to solving problems?"
- A behavioural question asks: "Describe the toughest problem you've handled in the last year. How did you deal with it?"
The purpose of behavioural interviews is to learn about your ability in key skills needed for the job. These skills (also known as competencies) usually appear in the job description or person specification.
How to prepare for a behavioural interview
Identify the skills needed
Think clearly about the key skills needed for the job, as mentioned in the job description. These are likely to be the ones that will be assessed at the interview.
Identify your past experiences
Think about past experiences or projects that you can use in the interview to illustrate such behaviour. Your aim is to choose an example that shows the interviewer that you have competence in the skill under assessment.
Examples of behavioural questions
Questions about influencing
"Tell me about a situation where you had to change someone's opinion on something important. What did you do and say?"
"Describe a situation where you helped improve working relationships. What did you do?"
Question about judgement
"Give me an example of a good decision you made in the last six months. What were the alternatives? How did you reach the decision?"
Question about teamwork
"Tell me about a time you worked in a team. What was your contribution?"
Question about problem solving
"Describe the toughest problem you've handled in the last year. What steps did you take to deal with it?"
How to answer behavioural questions
Identify the skill the interviewer is trying to evaluate, and choose an appropriate example.
Then break your answer into three parts:
- Situation/task: Describe briefly the situation/task.(20% of the answer.)
- Action: Describe the specific behaviour and skills you used.(60% of the answer.)
- Results: Describe the outcome — this could be a grade, feedback from an employer/lecturer, what you learned.(20% of the answer.)
Questions to ask the employer
You will almost always be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. It is important to have three or four questions ready, in order to demonstrate how interested you are in the job and the company.
Questions about performance
- "What counts as good performance? What is not good performance?"
- "How do you measure performance?"
- "In what ways does the firm reward good performance?"
Questions about reporting
- "Who will supervise this position?"
- "With what other people would I have contact in my work?"
- "What would the nature of this contact be?"
Questions about training
- "Is there any introductory training before beginning in the company and what's it like?"
- "What training or professional development opportunities can you offer staff?"
- "What further training/development does the firm think is important?"
Questions about working conditions
- "What sort of environment would I be working in? Will it be open-plan or sharing a smaller room, or will I be by myself?"
- "What would a typical day be like?"
- "Will most days be similar, or will there be some variety from day to day?"
Questions about responsibilities and future prospects
- "Where do you see the firm progressing in the future?"
- "What kinds of promotion are there and what could I do to qualify?"
Questions to avoid or be very careful about
- Avoid asking about things that have been covered already or that you should already know from your research.
- Avoid asking negative questions. For example, don't ask what's bad about the firm, or what staff don't like.
- Avoid personally awkward or embarrassing questions.