Interviews can take many forms – one-to-one, panel, assessment centres and telephone, but the basic rules are the same for all. Almost everyone is nervous about interviews, but careful preparation can help you feel more confident and in control.

Top tips

  • Find out as much as you can about the interview format and what you will be expected to do. If it doesn’t say in the invitation letter, ring and ask.
  • Plan your journey well in advance and allow plenty of time.
  • Personal presentation is very important; you can’t be too smart. Avoid too much jewellery, perfume or make-up. For some companies you can check pictures in recruitment literature to see what their ideal employees look like!
  • Don’t take too much with you; remember you will be shaking hands which can be awkward if you’re carrying several things. Put necessary documents such as your CV and interview letter in a neat (not necessarily expensive!) folder/briefcase and take only essential items in your handbag/suit pocket.
  • Prepare questions to ask that will make you look keen and committed (ie not about holidays, money or perks).
  • Practise talking about your skills and qualities, giving examples in evidence.
  • Be clear about how this job fits into your career plan.
  • Research the organisation, sector and the job itself.
  • Don’t ask questions you should know from published literature – ask questions that show you’ve read this and listened to briefings on the day.
  • Switch off your mobile phone.
  • Smile! 

To find out more

Download our interview guide which contains information to help you prepare, lists of typical questions as well as advice about body language and how to handle nerves. Also visit the Careers Centre where you can use our books and DVDs on interviews, attend workshops or arrange a practice interview with a Careers Adviser.

You may also find these sites useful:

Video links

  • The HEA Education Subject Centre - videos of over confident and shy interview candidates
  • Be my interviewer - watch interviewers ask typical questions and to explain what sort of answer they're looking
  • KPMG - a self-selection questionnaire based on competency based interviews.