How to prepare for an interview
You’ve made it to the interview stage. Congratulations.
Being invited to an interview means that the recruiter feels that you have potential to fulfil the role on offer. They want to gain an insight into your personality, understand your motivations for applying and assess your experiences, your behaviours and skills.
Find out how to best prepare yourself, talk confidently about your skills and experience to have the best chance of getting the job or internship.
What do I need to do first?
The priority is to revisit your research about the company and the job role.
Once you have received your invitation, use the research you did when you first applied and get a good understanding about who they are and what they do. You want to be able to talk confidently, not necessarily in detail, about the employer.
Consider the following areas and this list is by no means exhaustive.
- What do they do?
- What is their business model?
- How do they operate?
- What is their mission statement, their values?
- Who works for them? Check out their LinkedIn account
- What are current trends?
- What is its past performance and future strategy?
- Who are their competitors?
- Have they been in the news lately?
Find out more about researching employers and the sector
Read our blog post about researching a company and the sector
I am so thankful for your advice to look at the interviewers' LinkedIn profiles. One of the interviewers was responsible for international matters so I researched that part of the business. This helped me to predict what type of questions they might ask.
- Don’t limit yourself by the organisation website, use their LinkedIn profile, social media and Google searches
- When it comes to answering the questions, don’t just regurgitate what you have researched. Select the top two or three things that you find most interesting and relate this to your own experience and why they piqued your interest
- At the application stage, you may have been given a contact to gain further insight into the company. If you contacted them, use this knowledge to your advantage and share the fact that you have been proactive
- If you have time and are looking for additional inside knowledge, use LinkedIn and search for alumni who are working for the organisation and request an informal chat. If you are unsure as to how you can do this, find out more on our webpage.
What should I do next to prepare for the interview?
In addition to understanding the company, you also need to be clear on the exact nature of the role you are applying for. Using the job description and personal profile, if available, answer the following questions.
- What are the main activities?
- What are they looking for? What are the key skills?
- What type of experience are they looking for?
- Are some skills or experience requirements essential or desirable?
- Are there any words that come up more than once?
You may need to interpret the employer’s language and if you are unsure about anything, please contact us.
Potential interview questions
Use the job description to formulate potential interview questions and also use our list of types of questions that employers ask
Go to our page on the different types of interview questions
Answering the questions
It's helpful to think about various examples that illustrate what they are looking for. Think about which example would be best for each question. An employer is not expecting you to give industry-related examples at this stage as you are at the start of your career.
Use examples from your academic studies, extracurricular activities, an internship or part-time job. The employer will be analysing how well you can articulate your experience and how it relates to what you will be doing in the job so focus on your transferable skills.
Consider the following.
- How can I help the organisation succeed? What knowledge and experience do I have that would be useful to the employer right now?
- What problems did I solve? What ideas did I introduce that can help the organisation save time and/or money? What lessons have I learned that you could apply in the job?
- How can I relate my examples to what I would be doing in the job?
Read our blog post - Applications and Interviews: How to Choose Your Best Examples
Listen to an employer's advice
A local employer, Jigsaw24, has created two videos to offer advice on preparing for an interview. Jigsaw24 is a member of the Digital, Data and Technology Board, which includes a number of employers alongside representatives from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, who work towards supporting talent in the local region.
Watch this video: Preparing for an interview
Watch this video: During an interview
How do I build my interview confidence?
Everyone has interview nerves but what can you do to let the real you shine through?
Kirstin Barnard, Senior Careers Adviser, talks you through the various ways you can overcome your nerves before and during the interview.
- Your body language can play a huge part in giving you confidence therefore making you feel calmer. You can watch this short clip which explains the theory and practice behind positive body language. You can also attend a making applications workshop where you can practise these techniques.
- Yoga breathing is a fantastic way to relieve stress and anxiety. Yoga breathing can also work on your mental strength increasing concentration and supports you in your reflective practice.
- Music is used in many different ways including managing your career confidence. When in a stressful situation, think about a time when you felt confident and use music to represent these feelings.
Go to our other interview pages
For those who have limited or no interviewing experience, preparing for and doing an interview may be nerve-racking.
Regular mindfulness meditation in the run-up to an interview will almost certainly help with interview nerves and help you perform better on the big day.