Before your interview: how to prepare

Research the employer and the role

Remember that although the interview is a two way process and an opportunity for you to decide if the employer is a good match for you, the interview is predominantly for the interviewer to see if you have what they are looking for. Primarily they are looking for two main things. Firstly, can you provide evidence for the skills they are seeking? Secondly, are you truly interested in their organisation and motivated to succeed in the role?

  • Review the job description and your application thoroughly ahead of your interview. Be prepared to expand on examples you may have given in an application or to provide alternative examples
  • Research the employer’s website and attend careers fairs, employer presentations or workshops to speak to employees who are currently in similar roles.
  • You could also find alumni working at the organisation on LinkedIn and connect to find out about their experience working at the company.
  • Look at the sections ‘Research the employer’ and ‘Research the role’ for in-depth guidance on how research thoroughly.

Practising out loud

It is important that you practise answering questions out loud ahead of any interview so you can get used to hearing you talk about yourself, perhaps for the very first time. This isn’t something we naturally do, so practice will make you feel more comfortable and confident. Some students prefer to practice with a friend or family member, and others prefer to record answers on a phone or computer and listen back to your recording to help refine your answers.

For advice on overcoming interview nerves:

What to wear

An interview is a formal occasion, so prepare to dress smartly and make a good impression. Think about going to a business meeting with the people who work in this industry, what would they wear? You would dress differently for a job in the fashion industry to a job in investment banking. Even if the interview invitation stats smart casual they don’t necessarily mean jeans and a t-shirt, and it is important to dress professionally, even if your interview is virtual. As well as making a good impression this will also help you get into the right frame of mind for the interview’

What to take with you

Take a copy of your CV or application, in case the interviewer asks for it and/or for last minute preparation. For certain sectors such as journalism, marketing or advertising, it might be an idea to take evidence of your work in a portfolio. Keep all documentation in a professional looking wallet or a case. You may want to have a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview.

Planning your journey

Plan your journey in advance, leaving extra time to allow for any unforeseen transport problems. If you need to arrive early in the morning and the interview requires considerable travel consider getting overnight accommodation, and check whether employer will reimburse your expenses. Make sure you have access to a map and check directions carefully. Check exactly where your interview will be held, the building, floor, room number etc. Multiple businesses may be located in one building. Note down a contact name and number in case you get lost or delayed. If the organisation is local to you and it’s possible to make a practice trip you may find this helpful.