This article will explain the job interview process and provide some basic tips on preparing for a job interview. It will also explain where you can find further advice and support with preparing for job interviews.

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it is important to remember that it is your chance to check out an employer and see if you want to work for them as much as it is about the employer interviewing you for a position!

Interviews are structured conversations through which the recruiter is trying to find out if you are a suitable candidate for the role and the organisation. As such they form an extremely important part of any job application process. Whatever other methods are being used to select candidates, recruiters always ask applicants to attend an interview before a job is offered.

Central to the interviewing process is the employers’ need to answer three key questions:

  • Can you do the job?

  • Will you love doing the job?

  • Will you fit in?

About 80% of questions can usually be prepared for in advance. If you have a Job Description and Person Specification, use them to get a clear idea about what the interviewer is looking for. You could then think about what skills they might explore through competency based questions and prepare some outline answers using the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Think about how you might answer some to the other questions above and record your thoughts in an ‘Evidence Bank’. Your evidence bank, if maintained effectively, will also provide evidence for future applications and interviews.

Do’s and Don’ts to help you when preparing for interviews

Do:

  • Make sure you have done your research before the day.

  • Be able to explain why you want the job. The employer is likely to ask.

  • Be able to explain convincingly what you can offer the company in terms of your skills, attributes and experience.

  • Think about some of the strategies you would use in response to competency based and similar questions. Make sure you have examples of evidence you can quote in support of your claims.

  • Provide evidence for your answers from all aspects of your life – degree, voluntary experience, placement year, part-time job, interests, and societies. Spread your answers around!

Don’t:

  • Make false claims regarding your ability; don’t exaggerate your role in a team or claim an ‘amazing’ ability to do something.

  • Use an example from your degree as evidence for every answer during the interview! You should try to include evidence from a range of experiences such as a part-time job, placement year, outside interests, voluntary work and so on.

  • Indulge in flattering the interviewer about their organisation e.g. ‘I want to work for the number one financial company in Europe’.

  • Sit in silence. If you don’t understand a question ask for it to be clarified.

  • Interrupt the interviewer(s).

Purple Door, the University of Portsmouth’s employability service, offers job interview support to all University of Portsmouth current students and graduates for up to five years after you finish University.

General advice can be found on the Purple Door website. As well as this, you can drop-into the University of Portsmouth’s employability service, Purple Door, for one-to-one interview skills tips, or for more in depth guidance you can book an appointment with a careers adviser. We also offer mock interviews, giving you a chance to practice answering questions and receive feedback from the experts.

If you have a Skype, video or telephone interview coming up, we can also help you prepare for these with our online resources and mock interview service.

How can I book an appointment?

You can either drop-in, call us on +44 (0) 23 9284 2684. If you can’t get to Purple Door you can request a telephone appointment.

How to contact us

Visit us at:

Purple Door

University of Portsmouth

28 Guildhall Walk

Portsmouth

PO1 2DD

Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday: 8.30am–5.15pm

Friday: 8.30am–4.15pm

Telephone or Email:

t: +44 (0) 23 9284 2684

e: purpledoor@port.ac.uk

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