How to prepare for a job interview

Different types of job interviews and how to be successful.

It's normal to worry about a job interview.

The best way to ease your anxiety is to prepare well – and practise some simple relaxation exercises.

Different types of job interview

Telephone interview

Employers sometiems use them to quickly assess candidates. 

Listen carefully and speak clearly. 

Before answering a question, repeat it back to make sure you have heard/understood correctly.

Group interview

You attend the interview with other candidates. 

Smile and gesture a lot to show that you are friendly and enthusisatic. 

Rehearse an introduction in advance, summerising your expertise and why you want to work for the company. 

Listen carefully to the other interviewees – and relate to what they say with your own examples. This shows cooperation and support.

Normal interview

A panel of usually two or three people interview you.

Normally face-to-face. However, since the pandemic online interviews have increased – using Zoom and Skype.

Smile and make eye contact with each member of the panel when you speak. 

Tasks to prepare in advance

Many employers ask you to do one of the following before interview:

  • an online skills test
  • an exercise to bring to the interview

Always read the instructions carefully. 

Ensure you understand what you need to do before you start. 

The only way to get better is to practise. LinkedIn has free skills assesments that you can do. You will need to create a LinkedIn profile first. Watch a quick help video on how to set up a profile. 

General interview tips

Use these tips to prepare for any type of job interview.

1. Research the people on the interview panel

Check the website and look at their LinkedIn profiles.

What have they achieved and where have they worked?

It will help you identify their interests so you can relate to them during the interview.

2. Prepare well

Do research on the employer and the job.

Read the job description and the documents you submitted as part of your application. Prepare a clear example for each of the job requirements.

Prepare at least 3 good questions, e.g. What would success look like in this role? Which is the first big task I would be undertaking? What are the main challenges I would expect to encounter? 

Write keywords in a note pad to help you remember your examples and questions.

3. Rehearse the STAR method

Describe the Situation and what your Task was. Say what Action you took and what the Result was. It helps you focus your answers – and gives the employer clear evidence.

Situation: oOur voluntary group ran 8 virtual support sessions for parents. 

Task: I had to schedule the sessions and promote them. 

Action: I joined a number of Facebook Groups that local parents were part of. 

Result: Taking part in those groups, I was able to reach our intended audience. As a result, we had over 20 people attending our sessions.

4. Arrive early

Arrive 10–15 mins before the interview. If you are unfamiliar with the location, do a practice run.

For online interviews, check that your phone, laptop or PC works. Download the necessary software/apps beforehand and test them. Log in to the interview on time (usually 5 minutes early).

5. Look professional

Wear a suit to show that you are serious about making a good impression.

Wear a suit even if the interview is online.

Speak to a support worker if you need help getting interview clothing. They can refer you to local organisations such as Dressed for Success, Suited & Booted and Brixton Library loan scheme.

6. Choose a suitable room

For online interviews, choose a suitable place to take the call.

Choose a quiet room with good Internet access where you won't be interrupted. 

Check the background for inappropriate items.

Make sure there is enough lighting for the panel to properly see you.

7. Think positively

The organisation has invited you to an interview because they believe you have the skills to do the job.

15 mins before the interview, go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Repeat to yourself "I can do this; I'm an excellent candidate; They're going to love me; I know I can do the job; I'm exactly who they need." 

8. Practise relaxation exercises

Before the interview, do some breathing exercises – like these recommended by the NHS.

Try listening to calming music on Spotify or a station like Classic FM.

And try this. Think of a place that makes you feel calm, e.g. a quiet beach. Select the image as the screensaver on your phone. Look at it whenever you feel tense. 

Now you’re ready to go and get that job.

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