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How to prepare for an interview

how to prepare for an interview

Whether you are going for that apprenticeship that you really want or trying to bag your dream job – here’s how to prepare for an interview.

At most interviews you will get some fairly standard questions. These will relate to the role that you are applying for and to the company itself. Interviews really tend to be about your ability or potential to do the job that you are applying for and how well you will fit in with the company. Remember that in your interview they will be looking for evidence of important employment skills as well as answers to questions.  Below are some typical interview questions.

Typical interview questions

Why do you want the job?

One of the frequently asked questions at interview is why do you want the job? Now you might be thinking that the obvious answer is ‘because I need to earn a living and you’re advertising’ or ‘because your office is conveniently located’ and these are relevant factors in applying for any job. The question is – why is the employer asking you this question and what is a good way to answer it?

Try to remember that an interview is part of the employer’s selection process and not just a chat. This means that although the location of the offices might be a key factor for you wanting the job – this clearly isn’t a primary factor for the employer in choosing the right candidate for the role.

Ask yourself (before you get to the interview) – what is a key part of the job role that you are applying for? For example, imagine that you are being interviewed for the role of a teacher; a failure to mention the role of a teacher in helping children progress educationally is likely to put an employer off you because it is a fundamental part of the job.

With this in mind, make sure that you have a very good understanding of the job role, read the job description and job spec properly (ideally you will have done this before you even apply) and consider how your desire for this job fits with that role and the duties associated with it.

Interview questions about wider aspects of the role

Keeping in mind the example of a teaching role, it should be clear that although the primary role of a teacher is to educate, there are many other aspects to the role of a teacher such as special educational needs, child protection, equality, diversity and inclusion and family liaison to name just a few. Interviewers will want to discover how well you understand these different aspects so be sure to prepare.

Interview questions about working with others

Often the kind of questions that you get at interview that relate to working with others will differ depending on the level of role that you are applying for. In the role that you are applying for is entry level then the chances are that the employer will want to find out how you deal with taking instructions and how effective you are as a self-starter. For more senior positions, particularly when it involves working with a well-established team, the employer will probably want to gauge how well you would be able to establish the trust and cooperation of that team as a newcomer.

Understanding the values of the company

It is very important that you do your research as regards the company’s ethos. This means more than quickly looking up their mission statement online and then quoting this back to them.  When an interviewer asks, for example, ‘what do you think you could add to the company?’ they want to gain an understanding as to how your work in practice would reflect that mission and also go beyond it that mission statement and add to it.

Can you give an example of…

Sometimes this appears as a ‘tell us about a time that’ question too and it’s really important to prepare for these questions because they are popular. The interviewer will be expecting you to outline a work situation, your role in it, what needed to be done, what you did and what the outcome was.

These won’t always be examples of great things happening – it could be that what happened was not positive and the interviewer wants to know how you deal with things when they go wrong.

Always think of examples that you will be able to draw on in the interview room before you go.
The problem of interview nerves

Everybody gets nervous before an interview and often those interviewing get a little nervous too. If you are feeling exceptionally nervous though, perhaps just admit it. Ordinarily any polite interviewer will ask how you are before they commence and it’s okay to reply ‘I’m a little nervous actually’.  Most interviewers expect interviewees to be nervous and they do all that they can to put you at ease and also take this nervousness into account when assessing the answers that you give.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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