Interview preparation

This page is a guide to help you prepare for your next job interview. Preparing in advance is the best way to help you feel calm and confident on the day.

Research the company and the role

Read about the company – do some research using their website.  Find out about its market, business services or products and read up about any recent news articles relating to the company and what their corporate vision is.

How much research you are likely to be expected to know will largely depend on the type of job you are applying for.  Many companies will show short videos about employee experiences which will give an insight into what life is like working for the organisation.  An interview will often open with a question like ‘What do know about us’ or ‘How did you prepare your interview today’.

Spend time reading through the job information available (job description/specification, job advert) to have as best an appreciation of what the job involves as you can, and make a note of any questions you want to ask to clarify anything. Consider how you might answer questions relating to what experience and skills you have which demonstrate your ability in these areas of work.

Plan ahead

Consider, in advance, what you’re going to wear, what’s appropriate for the job you’re applying for and make sure you feel comfortable.  If you don’t have any suitable clothes/shoes for an interview you can contact the job centre for possible financial assistance.

If your interview is a physical one (as opposed to virtual) try and arrange a visit to the interview location prior to the interview day itself, so that you’re confident where you’re going and how long it will take you to make the journey.

If your interview is online and live or online and recorded, make sure you ideally have a plain background behind you to avoid distractions.  Make sure your phone is switched off and you won’t be disturbed or distracted. You should still wear appropriate, interview-style clothing. You may be able to ask the company in advance to try out the connection but if not, ask a friend to test out how you come across on a video link and why not even try out some questions.

Practice questions

Consider your answers to commonly asked interview questions as there is a good chance that you will be asked questions similar to those below.

Commonly asked interview questions

  • What do you know about our Company?
  • What appeals to you about working for our company?
  • What do you understand the job you’re applying for involves?
  • What inspired you to apply for this role?
  • What will be important to you to enable you to succeed in this job, should you be successful?
  • Why did you choose to study [qualification topic]?
  • What makes you confident that this job is the right one for you?
  • How would you describe the way you interact and communicate with others?
  • What other training/education/work options are you considering at the moment?
  • What is it about this type of work that gives you a buzz?
  • How would you define ‘providing an excellent customer service’?
  • Tell us a little about yourself? (3 or 4 sentences is usually enough - this can be light-hearted and perhaps include something you do in your leisure time).
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?  (When considering your answers, remember this question is referring to your strengths/weaknesses in relation to the particular job you’re applying for).
  • Do you have any questions for us?  (It’s useful to prepare two or three of these beforehand and write them down so you don’t forget them).

Competency based questions

Interviews will usually include some competency-based questions. These are questions designed so that the interviewers can gain some evidence of your competence/ability in areas of work relevant to the job you’re applying for.

For example, if a job requires someone to work well in a team, be good at problem solving and be an excellent communicator, they may ask questions similar to the following:

  • Tell us about a time when you’ve worked as part of a team and what your contribution was (evidence of contributing to a team effort)
  • Give me an example of a challenge that you’ve enjoyed resolving (evidence of problem solving)
  • Tell us about the different channels of communication you are required to use in your current job and the impact that has on those you are interacting with (evidence of your approach and experience of communicating with others)

When answering these kinds of questions, the best evidence is to give a good, solid example of situations you’ve been in to demonstrate your ability/knowledge/personal skills in the area of questioning.

Use the STAR framework to focus your answers

Try to be mindful of the STAR framework when answering questions that require you to describe a situation and your part in it.

S/T – describe the Situation or Task you are referring to, to provide some context

A – what Action did you take.  What part did you play in the situation?   Try not to make reference to ‘we’ as the interviewer normally wants to know what you did rather than you and your colleagues.

R – what was the Result/outcome of the situation.  Perhaps the situation concluded well due to your actions or perhaps it didn’t end well but lessons were learnt.

Build a rapport

Try to build a rapport with the interviewer/s – try to relax and smile and maintain good eye contact, which can be difficult if you’re feeling nervous and are concentrating.

Additional support

If you need some help with your interview technique or some advice about your interview, please contact the Council's Journey to Work team.