Preparing for an interview

The first thing to do is look at the job description and imagine the questions you are likely to be asked.

To prepare for competency-based interview questions, use the STAR technique to prepare well-structured examples that you can use in the interview to demonstrate you have the skills and experience they’re looking for. 


Situation: I took part in a volunteering scheme in El Salvador last summer.

Task: Our team of five had to arrange an event in a rural community. I was responsible for
marketing the event.

Action: I worked with local sponsors to raise money for the event by advertising it on the
local radio station, creating flyers and posting them in the nearby villages and by
asking community groups to share the information with their members.

Result: On the day, over three hundred people attended the event and the sponsors were
very happy with the turnout.

Looking at the job description and person specification, practice a STAR example for each of the desired skills/experience, drawing on as many diverse examples as possible.

Top tips

  • Make sure you have all the relevant details.
    e.g. company name, address, contact name, the date and time of your interview.
  • Aim to arrive 10 minutes early.
    You can arrive early to allow for travel disruption and give yourself time to get settled.
  • Research the company.
    Look at their areas of expertise, clients and values to draw on during the interview.
  • Review the job description.
    Make sure that you know what the interviewers will be looking for and identify any areas of the job description that you have questions about.
  • Prepare your interview outfit.
    Always dress in smart office wear that you can sit comfortably in for the duration of the interview.
  • Introduce yourself and be your best self
    Make sure you give eye contact, shake hands and smile. Smiling will help you to feel more relaxed too.
  • Be aware of your body language.
    Sit up straight and place your hands on the table, or on your lap. If you are likely to fiddle with your hair, have it tied up. If you are likely to shake your knees, cross your legs at the ankle.
  • Take your time.
    Allow yourself a breath to compose your response before beginning to answer a question. Feel free to pause and gather your thoughts when you need to. If you didn’t understand the question, ask the interviewer/s to repeat or rephrase the question. Take a sip of water to grab some thinking time.
  • Ask questions.
    Ask at least two questions to the interviewer/s at the end of the interview. These can be your prepared questions, but also any questions that have occurred to you during the interview.
  • Reflect on how it went.
    After the interview, write down any questions or aspects of the interview that you struggled with to help you prepare for future interviews.

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