Interview tips

Why interviews are important

An interview is a chance for an employer to see if you're the right person for the job. It's also a chance to make sure the job and company are the right fit for you.

Where interviews take place

You may have a face-to-face, phone, or video interview.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many interviews are taking place online. You will likely use video conferencing software like Skype, Zoom or Teams.

Types of interview

There are different types of interviews that employers might use. You should prepare for the one you're attending.

- One-to-one interview

Your interview may only be with one person. This is usually face-to-face and is more common in smaller companies.

- Panel interview

Some interviews are with a panel of 2 or more people. Ensure you look at all the interviewers when speaking with them. They may also ask you to do a presentation.

- Group discussion

A group discussion with other candidates is usually part of an assessment centre day. You'll have to show you can get along with people, put your ideas forward and be respectful of others.

Types of interview questions

Employers use different types of questions when interviewing. They may tell you beforehand what type of interview it is. They may also have information on their website about their recruitment process.

- Competency-based questions

The focus is on what you can do, so you'll need to give examples to show you have the skills for the job. If you do not have examples from a work environment, you can use experiences from your personal life.

You may find out before the interview which competencies they're measuring you against.

- Strengths-based questions

These explore what you enjoy doing or do well. For example, your practical or teamwork skills or how you work under pressure.

- Technical questions

The employer may test your job-related knowledge and understanding of work processes. This is common for jobs in:

• Science

• IT

• Engineering

• Finance

• Law

- Situational judgement questions

Employers may ask how you would react in typical work situations. This is to check your ability to solve problems, make decisions or work with others.

- Values-based questions

Value-based questions identify whether you share the organisation's values and understand their culture. This is common for health and care jobs, particularly in the NHS.

- Motivational questions

These help an employer see what drives you and ensure you'll fit in with their company.

Learn what other people say it's like to work at the company or in a similar job. People post their interview experiences on websites like The Student Room and Glassdoor.

You could also talk to people you know who work at the company or are in similar jobs.

You can find more advice on how to answer common interview questions.


Choose a date and time that works for you so you can be ready for the interview and be at your best on the day.

To help make sure you’re prepared:

• Read the job description and person specification carefully. Be clear on the skills and qualities the employer is looking for

• Check the company website to learn more about its products or services and its plans for the future

• Go over your CV or application form and think about things the employer may ask you about

• Prepare examples showing you have the right skills, personal qualities and experience. Use the STAR method

• Practice your timings on presentations and keep a backup copy

• Ask someone you trust to help you practise answering questions

• Think of 2 or 3 questions of your own that you can ask at the end of your interview to show you're enthusiastic about the job

• Pick out something suitable and comfortable to wear

• Check what time you need to arrive and the name of the person you need to see

• Ensure you know how to get to where the interview is held. Work out your public transport route or where you can park. Plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the interview starts

• Make sure you know who to call in case you're late for any reason

If you have a disability, you may need adjustments to make the interview accessible. You can get advice from Scope on how to ask for adjustments at an interview.


Before you go into the interview:

• Turn off your phone

• Use breathing techniques to calm yourself - try to remember a few nerves are normal

• Smile and greet your interviewer with confidence

• Ask for some water if you need it

The interview

In the interview, remember to:

• Be polite and use the correct language and tone for a formal situation

• Listen to the questions and think before you begin your answers

• Ask the interviewer to repeat or explain further if you do not understand a question

• Use the STAR method to answer questions about your skills and experience

• Be positive about your experiences. If you've faced difficult situations, show what you learned from them

• Be honest and assertive

• Ask a couple of questions when you're given the opportunity. Choose questions that make you sound keen. For example, "What opportunities are there for training with the company?" It's best not to ask about pay or holidays at this stage

At the end of the interview, thank the employer for their time. Tell them you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

After the interview

When you leave the interview, try to reflect on some of the more challenging questions you were asked - this can help you to prepare for future interviews.

Accepting a job

If you're offered the job, let the company know in good time whether you want to accept the offer. You can also agree on when you'll start and find out what you'll need to do on your first day.

Turning down a job

If you decide not to accept the job, turn it down, but be polite. You may work for them in the future.

If you’re not successful

If the employer does not offer you the job:

• Try to be positive - this is a chance to learn from your experience and build your resilience

• Ask for feedback on your interview

• Think about the things that did not go so well and what you could do to improve next time

• Get some interview practice. Ask friends, family, colleagues or a careers adviser to help.


The National Careers Service

A national service for everyone providing career information, advice, and guidance. The National Careers Service supports those decisions on learning, training, and work at all career stages.

Speak to an adviser at The National Careers Service.

You can call 0800 100 900 or use webchat to speak to an adviser.

They're open:

• 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday

• 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and bank holidays

We're closed on Sundays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.