Interview Skills

Preparing for an Interview

An interview is an opportunity for an employer to determine if you are the right candidate for the job. Make the most of your opportunity to impress and show your skills. Also, you can use it to determine if the job and company are right for you. It’s important that you spend time preparing for an interview beforehand so that you make the best impression possible.

  • Know the role – You should carefully read the job description and person specification and understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate.
  • Know the company – Read through the company’s website to find out more about their products/services, their plans for the future, and their values.
  • Read your CV – Read over your CV, cover letter, and think of some things the employer could ask you based on the information you’ve given them.
  • Use the STAR method – Prepare a few examples that demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and experience using the STAR method.
  • Have questions prepared – Write down a few questions you can ask at the end of the interview to show that you are enthusiastic about the job.
  • Look the part – Make sure you’ve picked out something suitable to wear. Try to make it comfortable too!
  • Practice – Mock interviews are a great way to prepare for the real thing. You can organise a mock interview with your Capital4Training tutor to get ready.

On the Day

Before you go into your interview make sure you’re phone is turned off. Use breathing techniques to keep calm, and when invited in greet your interviewer with a smile. Don’t be afraid to ask for water if you feel you need it. Below are some tips for the interview itself.

  • Match the tone – Be polite and friendly, and match the tone of the interviewer. If they’re informal then you can be too, however, if they’re formal ensure you keep a professional manner at all times.
  • Formulate your answer – Listen carefully to each question. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to think about how you want to answer.
  • Clarify – If you’re unsure of what exactly a question means, ask the interviewer to repeat it or explain further.
  • Be positive – Positivity is a great attribute and one that many hiring managers look for. If you’ve faced a difficult situation, tell them what you’ve learned from it.
  • Don’t brag – Confidence is important in an interview, but make sure you don’t over-exaggerate or come across over-confiednt.
  • Express gratitude – At the end of the interview make sure to thank the interviewer for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them.

In the event that you’re offered the job, let the company know in good time whether you’re interested. If you decide not to accept the job, decline it politely and promptly. If you do not get offered the job:

  • Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the experience.
  • Request feedback on your interview
  • Take time to reflect on what didn’t go well and how you could improve next time
  • Try practicing for interviews with friends, family, colleagues, or a careers adviser. Your Capital4Training tutor is always on hand for this!

Be a STAR

STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. It’s a method of structuring answers to show your skills and knowledge with real-world outcomes.

  • Situation – The situation you had to deal with
  • Task – The task you were given
  • Action – What action you took
  • Result – What happened as a result of your actions

When choosing an example for your STAR answer it’s vital that it’s relevant and real.

Telephone Interviews

It’s common in a multi-stage hiring process to start with a telephone interview. This tends to be a call to get a better idea of who you are, a little about your experience, and to see if you’d be a good fit at the company.

  • Plan where you’ll be – Make sure you’ll have a quiet room to take the interview in. Make sure your phone is charged and use headphones if possible. Do not take a telephone interview in public places such as cafes or public transport.
  • Take notes – Have a pen and paper handy to take any notes. You can also have cue cards prepared with answers to common interview questions.
  • Speak up about issues – Let the interviewer know if you’re having issues hearing them or your signal is breaking up. It’s better to halt the interview and restart it than to pretend everything is fine.
  • Smile! – Just because the interviewer can’t see you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t smile. This will naturally give your voice more enthusiasm. Be clear and confident in your replies, and don’t eat, drink, or chew gum!
  • Get prepared – Strat preparing for the interview 10 minutes before it’s due to take place. This gives you time to get into the right headspace. Take some deep breaths and try to stay calm.

Video Interviews

More and more companies are embracing remote working and remote hiring these days. And that means instead of face-to-face interviews, video interviews are becoming increasingly common. Preparation for a video interview is mostly similar to preparing for a face-to-face interview, but there are a few factors you should take into consideration.

  • Pick your location – It’s important that you have a quiet room free of interruptions. If you live with others it’s a good idea to let them know you’ll need some quiet.
  • Light it up – If you can, sit in front of a plain background that won’t be distracting. Using a lamp or natural light will help the interviewer see you clearly on screen.
  • Speak up about issues – Let the interviewer know if you have any technical problems. It’s better to halt the interview and restart it than to pretend everything is fine.
  • Use the right tech – Try to use a computer or laptop rather than a tablet or a phone. Position the camera so that you’re well-framed. Using headphones will improve the sound quality.
  • Test the software – make sure you know how to use the video call programme, including how to:
    • start and end the session
    • mute your microphone or turn off your camera
    • share your screen – you may have to do a practical task during the interview
Tell me about yourself?

The interviewer often asks this as an opening question, partly as a way to get to know you better, but mostly to see how you respond. You have full control over the situation, and you should make the most of it. However, they have not asked for your life story. Don’t stray too far from the topic, and try to keep your response relevant. Keep in mind that the interviewer is not just making small talk.

A 2-3 minute answer that sums up your educational background, your interest in the field, and your work history is what most hiring managers are looking for.

Why are you looking for a new job?

Try to make this a positive answer; with a focus on good reasons for changing jobs such as the desire to face new challenges, or a company whose ethos fits you better.

Why should you get this job?

This is not a time to say “because I need the money.” Instead, think back to your cover letter when you listed your skills against the requirements of the company. This question needs a similar answer – The company needs someone with X, Y, and Z, and how you can offer this. Remember to use the STAR method to give evidence of your skills.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

A classic interview question, this aims to see whether or not you’ve thought of the future, and what your ambitions are. The employer wants to ensure that the job they’re hiring for isn’t going to be a stop-gap for you. Your answer should show passion about the industry. It should also match your career goals with the organization’s objectives, show ambition, and make use of your strengths

Why is there a gap in your work history?

If you do have a gap in your work history and this question comes up, just remember: honesty is the best policy. If it was for personal reasons, then tell the truth. If not, stating that you were taking a break while searching for a different career path will be enough to keep the interview moving.

What are your strengths?

This question provides a great chance to provide several clear and concise examples of your professional and personal strengths. It is better to have three good strengths than five mediocre ones. Be specific, avoid cliches, and make them count.

What are your weaknesses?

Employers are looking for self-aware workers who are willing to improve themselves, so identify your real weaknesses that can be overcome and explain how you are already bettering yourself. The right answer to this question has a simple formula weakness + how you address it = (eventually) strength/

e.g. “One of my greatest weaknesses is that I have difficulty saying no to requests. I sometimes take on more than I am capable of. As a result, I now use a project management app so that I can see how much work I have at any given time and determine when I have time to help others.”

Tell me about your proudest achievement

Make the most of this question – it’s an opportunity to shine a spotlight on your past achievements, ideally by choosing something that relates to the role you’re applying for. Use STAR when answering.

When have you went above and beyond?

You have a good opportunity to be positive about yourself. Try to keep it within reasonable boundaries – for instance, a time when you took on more responsibilities than normal and handled them well.

Why do you want to work for us?

Instead of thinking like an employee, try to think like an employer when you answer this. Do not just say the money is good or the workload is light; align your interests with those of the company and any goals you know they are working towards!

Do you have any questions

It’s important that you prepare a few questions you can ask in return during an interview. Remember, and interview is to check that you’re suitable for the job, but also that the job is suitable for you. Take this opportunity to get answers to any questions you have.  Do note that you shouldn’t be asking about salary at this point, rather keep your questions role focused.

e.g. “what does a typical day in the department look like” or “what’s the company’s onboarding process?”

If you have any questions please get in touch

If you have any questions please get in touch

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