Preparing for Interview
If you successfully complete your form, covering letter and CV, you may be invited to attend an interview. Now you need to prepare for the interview and impress your potential employer.
Find out about the employer, what products or services they offer, where they are based, whether they are a part of a UK company or just a local company. Ring the company and ask for an information pack on the services they offer and check if they have a website as this is a good source of information.
Try to find out the answers to the following questions:
- What does the company do/make/sell?
- Who are their customers?
- What sort of organization are they?
- Financial information; turnover, profits?
- What will the job involve?
- What sort of person do you think they are looking for?
Plan for the interview
The following are some examples which may be asked at an interview. Some suggestions are given which you may use to prepare your own answers.
- What do you know about our company?
- This will be where you impress the interviewer; they will assume you know nothing about the company. If you have done your preparation correctly then tell them what you know about their company. Don’t be afraid to bring notes, you can’t be expected to know everything about the company.
- Why do you want to work there?
- Mention that the company has a good reputation, any training which maybe on offer and that it will give you a chance to do work which interests you.
- What qualities and experience do you have to offer the company?
- This should have been highlighted on your covering letter together with your CV (you should have taken a copy of the letter before sending it in). Your interviewer will have a copy in front of them; you need to match what you said in the letter.
- What are your strengths?
- Generally what you are good at, followed by an example if you can. Keep it to professional strengths mainly, but social strengths can be included, i.e. “I am a good team player, I play football for Peel” or “I am very punctual, in fact I have never been late for work in the last 10 years.”
What are your weaknesses?
Generally what you are not good at, but be very careful of this question. Don’t use statements like “I am no use in timekeeping, in fact I have been late for every shift for the past 10 years”, this will turn the employer off giving you the job. Examples include, “I sometimes take too much pride in my work and take longer than expected, I like to do a job once correctly than have to correct it at a later date.”
Why did you leave your last job?
Explain briefly and honestly the reasons why your last job ended. If there is anything positive to say, then say it. If you left for health reasons point out that you are now fit and reassure the employer that you can do the duties required. If you were dismissed, you have taken responsibility for your action and have learnt from the experience. Remember that your past employer could be approached for a reference and they may mention a dismissal or sacking which you have not mentioned.
What did you do in your last job?
- Describe Skills & duties relevant to the new position , Equipment used, i.e. computers or machinery , Your responsibilities , Type and level of people you dealt with , Length of employment and Promotions
Could you tell me about a project or task in your present job which you feel you have done particularly well and are proud of?
- This question is easy if you prepare for this question coming up, but not so easy in an interview from ‘cold.’ Give details of your project planning, and budgetary controls you may have encountered, any team work which took place and the outcome of the project, good or bad. Explain what you learned from the project and how you have built upon the experience.
Tell me about any experience you have had working in a team?
- This basically asks whether you get on with people. Elaborate on any professional and social team skills you have, i.e. major project with 5 people, sports team, voluntary working, etc.
How long have you been out of work? How did you spend your time?
- The interviewer does not want to hear that you have stayed at home in bed! They will be looking for Job search activities – your techniques on job hunting, Voluntary work , Further education or study , Hobbies
Why have you had a) so many jobs b) only one job?
- So many jobs – explain that you wanted to widen your experience of different types of work and companies. You may have moved for a career progression, explain why you moved.
- Only one job – this maybe due to career progression within the company. You may have started as a junior and ended up as a director of the company, which may have taken 15 years, but you have still only worked for one company.
What makes a good team player?
- Key words to mention are: Good communication , Flexibility, Adaptability, Co-operation Sense of humor, Team player is how you interact with other people in your workplace, this relates to company wide and not just your section.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
- Explain that you would ideally like to be still employed by the same company, but had moved up the corporate ladder, this shows not only commitment to hard work, but also a sense of loyalty to the company.
Tell me of a particularly stressful situation which you have been involved in and tell me how you coped with it?
- Keep to a professional example and not a social one, but sometimes social issues can come into the answer. Give an example such as “two members of my team left, which only left three people to carry out the work of five, a stressful time as the project was near to completion, however with careful planning and time management we were able to cope and deliver the project successfully”.
How do you cope with stress in general at work / outside work?
- This question is about how you manage yourself and your time. You can say “most people become stressed at some time. I have been able to manage my stress by relaxing on the golf course at the weekends” or “when work builds up I have to review my work load and speak to my manager about the work I have on, they normally take some of the pressure off by giving work to other people”.
How do you think your colleagues and friends would describe you?
- The interviewer is looking for key words such as Honest , Trustworthy , Reliable , Dedicated , Focused
What do you like best in your current job and which aspects don’t you enjoy about it?
- Try not to criticise your current job when thinking of points you don’t like, remember the interviewer will not want you criticising his company when you leave. Things you don’t enjoy could include Long hours – due to family pressures , Travel – due to family pressures ,Shift work – night shift
Given the choice – what would be your ideal job?
- Do not say “this job is my ideal job”, try to think of a job which you ultimately if money, training and time were no problem, that would be the job. Be careful, as the interviewer infer from this ‘ideal job’. If you choose a film artist, they can take that to mean that you are an ‘arty’ person, an accountant suggests that you are very numerically minded, etc.
Plan your journey
- Find out where the interview is and go there the day before, taking a note of how long it took you to get there. If you need to go by bus, plan the journey beforehand.
- Plan an alternative route just in case of an accident or road works on the day of the interview. If you have a disability check for access to the building, ask about disabled access.
- Always turn up to an interview dressed smartly, preferably a suit for a man and blouse/skirt or trousers for a lady, look professional in your appearance. First impressions are important, so take your time and get it right.
- Bring the relevant paperwork, Copy of advert, Copy of application form, Copy of CV , Copy of covering letter, Information gathered about the company.
Day of the interview
Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview, do not arrive late or arrive at the last minute. Try to arrive 10 minutes before the interview time, this will give you time to relax and calm yourself before the interview.
If you are delayed contact the company to explain why you are delayed and apologise and try to get another appointment.