How to prepare for interviews

February 22, 2024

Businesses have different styles and processes when it comes to job interviews. This means you should always aim to develop your interview style and leave a positive impression through the right preparation.

Before your interview

Interviewing can be daunting, but good preparation makes things easier.

These tips may seem obvious but it’s worth checking them off in advance:

  1. Do you know where you’re going? If it’s a video interview, make sure you have the right link. If it’s in person, check the address. If you don’t know the area, call your recruitment consultant for directions. Give yourself lots of time and aim to arrive at least 10 minutes early
  2. Have you called your recruitment consultant ahead of time for an interview briefing to discuss the hiring manager and job description? They’ll help you with the type of interview, the personality of your potential employer and any other information. Try not to leave this until the last minute
  3. Have you looked at the company website? This will give you useful background information. Check if they have a careers section and anything about their mission, values and company culture. This will tell you how they want to be seen as potential employers
  4. Make sure you know what’s on your CV. Think about why you have changed jobs in the past, reasons behind your career decisions, what you enjoyed about certain jobs and any specific examples. Think clearly about what you are looking to do and why
  5. Make sure you know what information you’d like from the job interview and have a good list of questions. It doesn’t do any harm to write them down as it shows you’ve prepared

What form will my interview be in?

Interviews are usually CV-based, behavioural, team, technical or competency-based.

The CV-based interview

This job interview style follows the more traditional question-and-answer format – asking for a chronological run-through of your work experience.

Common questions might include “Can you tell me about yourself?”, “Why did you leave X organisation for Y?” and “What are your career goals?”

How to prepare: It’s important to know your answers to these common interview questions. It also helps to have an answer if the hiring manager asks about something that stands out in your CV – such as a period of unemployment or a quick job move. But try not to over rehearse and appear formulaic or ingenuine in your answers.

The behavioural interview

Behavioural interviewing usually provides the most accurate prediction of future performance through analysis of work experience in certain situations.

The hiring manager has already identified job-related experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities (competencies) they see as desirable for the job, so pay attention to the job description as these might be referenced.

Candidates who give specific examples will be far more effective and successful than those who respond in general terms.

How to prepare: Read the job description properly and think of six to 12 situations when you’ve used strong job-related behaviours. Also look at the careers section of the company website to see if they refer to behaviours that they look for in the interview process.

The team interview

To gain a well-rounded perspective on candidates, many companies ask multiple team members to take part in the job interview and hiring process.

This type of interview is with than one interviewer at once, or in a series of one-on-one interviews with various team members. They then follow an agreed criteria and job description to assess first impressions and feedback following the interview sessions.

How to prepare: Expect team interviews to be challenging. Initial exchanges are the most difficult and you’ll need to be able to interact with people from different backgrounds. Be prepared to cover the same ground with various interviewers as they may want to see if your answers change.

The technical interview

The technical interview helps your potential employer to understand your technical skillset. By sharing your thought processes, you demonstrate interview skills but also communication and analytical ability.

Interviewers are looking closely at how you think critically and solve problems. You’re not expected to know everything, so don’t just guess if you don’t know the answer. Use this opportunity to tell the hiring manager how you would research that question. It’s not about knowing everything: it’s about being able to learn it.

How to prepare: There’s no perfect way to prepare for technical interviews as there are an infinite number of technical interview questions that hiring managers could throw at you. They might involve hypothetical scenarios with no single correct answer. Just make sure you’re comfortable talking through the technical areas on your CV and don’t feel thrown by the obvious questions.

The competency-based interview

Competency-based interviews are becoming increasingly common in the hiring process for many businesses. They involve a structured approach to understand how well a candidate will perform in a role. The hiring manager asks the candidate for specific examples of when they have demonstrated particular competencies (or relevant behaviours).

Hiring managers will want to explore your work experience to predict your future behaviour. For each competency, you might be asked multiple questions to demonstrate your abilities in different ways. All candidates are usually asked the same questions to ensure the interview process is fair.

How to prepare: Competency-based interviews can be intimidating but can run smoothly with good interview prep and a broad range of specific examples to hand. They’re also a chance to stand out from the crowd. A simple interview preparation technique to help you construct a clear and concise answer is the STAR method, which stands for:

  • Situation: Set the scene and provide some context – What? Where? When?
  • Task: Explain the challenge you faced or the goal you were working towards
  • Action: What steps did you take to achieve the goal?
  • Result: What was the positive outcome of your actions? If it was negative, discuss the changes you made to ensure positive results in future

You can find more career advice on preparing for job interviews and updating your CV by downloading our guide which includes preferred candidate attributes, psychometric tests and follow-up interview tips.

You can download this article as a PDF by providing your details below.

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