It's important to make sure you know what to expect from an interview and to prepare as best as you can.
What to expect in an interview
Whether you’re interviewing for a job, training or a qualification, the interview experience will be similar.
A potential employer may not be expecting you to have done the job before, but they'll be looking for relevant experience or strengths.
This is the same for interviews for qualifications or training. They'll be looking at your education, experience and interests.
Check the details of the interview
After you have been invited to an interview, make sure the date works for you. It’s important you have enough time to prepare and can manage it around your other commitments.
Prepare for the interview
Make sure you have time to prepare for your interview. This will help you to feel more confident.
To prepare for an interview, it’s important to:
- read the job description carefully and understand what skills and experience the employer is looking for
- do some research on the company’s website
- look over your CV or application form and think about what the interviewer might ask you
- prepare some examples from your past experience to refer to in the interview
Practise your answers
Answer questions using the STAR method
The STAR method helps you to answer interview questions fully. Look through some example answers using this method.
You’ll usually have some time towards the end of the interview to ask some of your own questions.
These might be about the role or company. You could think of some questions when researching the company. It’s important to write these down before the interview.
Get ready for an assessment centre or presentation
You might be asked to attend an assessment centre or do a presentation.
An assessment centre usually involves completing tasks and taking part in activities.
Remember the employer is looking to see how you:
- work with other people
- deal with problems
- communicate and contribute
If you’re being asked to present or take part in an assessment centre, make sure to read any instructions carefully.
Researching the employers website will also help you to get a feel for what the employer might be looking for.
On the day of the interview
It’s normal to be a bit nervous on the day of an interview.
To feel prepared for an interview, you'll find it useful to:
- give yourself plenty of time to arrive
- turn off your phone so you’re not distracted
- check your computer and internet connection is working if your interview is online
- be ready to start the interview 5 to 10 minutes before
- know how to contact the interviewer in case you’re running late or having technical issues
During the interview
Your interview will usually start with the interviewers introducing themselves and explaining what the role or training is.
You might be told about the structure of the interview and the types of questions they're going to ask.
Once the interview starts, you’ll be asked a series of questions related to the role. Remember to answer questions using the STAR method.
Before answering a question you might want to:
- ask the interviewer to repeat the question or explain further if you do not understand
- write down the question or refer to your notes if you need to
- think about your prepared examples and choose the best example to give
Make sure you’re ready to ask your own questions that you prepared earlier.
At the end of the interview, you might want to ask when you'll hear back from them.
After the interview
You might want to follow up after the interview with an email or phone call unless you know when you’ll hear back.
If you were successful and you’re offered the role, congratulations!
Before accepting the role, you might want to:
- ask for confirmation of the offer in writing
- confirm a start date and let them know if you have a notice period
- ask about work patterns or arrangements
- let them know your salary expectations if you’ve not already discussed it
What to do if you do not get the role
It's normal to feel disappointed if you do not get the role after an interview. Remember that it’s common to attend a few interviews before being offered a role.
It might be useful to reflect on some of the harder questions you were asked. This can help you improve for next time.
You can also ask the interviewer for feedback on how it went and where you could have done better.
You might find it useful to speak to a careers adviser about how to improve in interviews and secure a role.