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C A R E E R S A N D E M P L OYA B I L I T Y C E N T R E

Interviews
The Careers and
Employability Centres
interview skills workshops
are really insightful
U N D E R G R A D U AT E
(S C H O O L O F L AW, P O LI T I C S A N D S O C I O LO GY )
INTERVIEWS

W H AT I S T H E P U R P O S E O F A N Do your research
INTERVIEW?
Research the organisation
Organisations invite candidates to interview What is important to them? Who are their
to find out more about them and assess clients and competitors? What makes them
whether theyre suitable for the role. different from the rest? Read the About Us or
Careers section of their website and research
They will assess whether an applicant: the wider sector to demonstrate a broad
awareness of their work. This will help you be
has the skills and experience needed for informed at interview, show motivation and
the job interest, and help you plan questions to ask
is motivated to do the job them.
will fit into the team and workplace culture.
Research the role
W H AT K I N D O F I N T E R V I E W C A N I Go over the job specification to help you plan
EXPECT? answers to questions about how your skills
and experience match the role. Plan answers
Your invitation may tell you what kind of about your motivation and reasons why you
interview to expect. If you havent been want to do the job. Find out about similar
informed, you can ask the employer if they roles by talking to employers at events, using
can provide more details. Knowing what type our Sector Guides and looking at vacancy
of interview it will be can help you to prepare websites.
and reduce any nerves.
Go over your application
Common interview types include: Revise your CV, covering letter or application
form so that you know it inside out. Its
face-to-face panel interviews common for interviewers to ask questions
telephone/video interviews (usually about your application; so think about
selection interviews) how you could expand on this, with more
group interviews. examples or detail. Talking about your skills
and experiences out loud will help you
H OW C A N I PR E PA R E FO R A N rehearse.
INTERVIEW?
What do you want them to remember
Preparation is key! Employers often report about you?
that candidates are unsuccessful at interview An interview is a two-way process, so
because they dont prepare well enough. You decide on five key things that you want the
can prepare by doing research and thinking employer to remember about you. Which of
about practical considerations beforehand. your strengths make you suitable for this
role? What will distinguish you from the rest,
your unique selling points? Which examples
from your experiences demonstrate these
strengths?
INTERVIEWS

Questions to ask the employer Dealing with nerves


You will usually be asked if you have any Its normal to feel nervous, but the key
questions at the end of the interview; its a to dealing with nerves is being prepared.
good opportunity to show your enthusiasm Practise interview questions with a Careers
and research. Prepare some questions in Adviser or use an online interview practice
advance, more may also arise during the resource like the Big Interview:
interview. Make sure that your questions are sussex.biginterview.com
about the role or organisation, eg. long-term
options in the company, key challenges in On the day, reduce stress by arriving in plenty
the role, a typical day in this job, when youre of time. Smiling will help you to create a
likely to hear about the outcome of the positive attitude; other strategies to help you
interview. Avoid questions about salary and cope with nerves include conscious breathing
holidays. and mindfulness exercises.

Practical preparation HOW DO I APPROACH DIFFERENT


T YPES OF INTERVIEW?
Find out more about the interview
What type of interview will you be having, how Face-to-face interviews: These may be
long will it take, will you be asked to make a one-to-one or a panel with more than two
presentation or answer questions on a case- interviewers. Try to build a positive rapport,
related study? Can you find out who will be listen carefully to the questions and make
interviewing you? You can find out more about eye contact. With a panel, direct your answer
them online, eg. LinkedIn. This could give you to the person who asked the question, but
an idea of what their focus might be. involve the others on the panel by briefly
including each individual with appropriate eye
Plan your journey contact as you speak.
Leave extra time to allow for transport or
weather problems. Make sure you have a Telephone interviews: Use a telephone
contact number in case of delays. interview to your advantage by having your
research notes with you. Questions may be
Plan what to wear discussion-based or a structured list of set
Its best to dress smartly unless told questions.
otherwise eg. a suit or equivalent.

What to take with you TIPS FOR PHONE INTERVIEWS


In a folder take a copy of your application,
the job specification and a list of questions Practise with a friend or Careers Adviser
that you want to ask the employer. For some to get feedback on your tone of voice
sectors, evidence of a portfolio may be Ensure you have privacy during the call
necessary, eg. journalism, design. Have your CV/application with you and a
pen and paper to make notes
Have water to hand
INTERVIEWS

Video/online interviews: Much of the advice During the interview:


for telephone interviews is relevant for video
interviews. Follow on-screen instructions sit upright and keep an open posture
carefully, talk to the camera and not the keep hands on show and minimise things
screen, and focus on your tone of voice and you do when nervous, like fidgeting
speed of speech. Refer to notes on your maintain good eye contact
CV but avoid sounding like youre reading a speak clearly
script. remember to breathe!

Be professional and enthusiastic.


TIPS FOR VIDEO INTERVIEWS
W H AT Q U E S T I O N S W I L L I B E
If using a system like Skype, make ASKED?
sure your profile and username are
professional There is a range of interview question
Practise presenting yourself on video categories: general, competency-based,
Dress professionally and find a quiet technical and strengths-based.
space where you wont be disturbed
Make sure that any software or General questions
equipment youre using works correctly
Close any other programs on the These tend to be open, eg. Tell me about
computer in case they make a noise yourself. What are your strengths? Why do
during the interview eg. Facebook you want to work for this organisation?
notifications They test your motivation for the role and
organisation

Group interviews and interviews based on Competency-based questions


case studies are more likely to happen in
assessment centres see our Assessment These refer to specific competencies
Centres and Selection Tests booklet for more important to the job role and organisation,
information. eg. creativity, teamwork, leadership,
analytical skills; these will be in the
HOW CAN I MAKE A GOOD job specification, job advert or on the
IMPRESSION? organisations website.
These test your skills and experiences,
First impressions are very important. As you asking for examples of when youve
enter the employers premises you are on demonstrated the competency, to find out
show, so be aware of how you come across how you could potentially perform in the
as soon as you arrive; make eye contact and role; eg. Tell me about a time when you
smile, shake hands firmly and speak clearly. faced a difficult challenge. Can you give
an example of when you have effectively
led others?
INTERVIEWS

Strengths-based questions knowledge about aspects of the job, eg.


software needed, key laboratory processes
These test your energy and enthusiasm etc.
by asking you to give examples of what
youre good at and enjoy doing. Not easy to HOW DO I ANSWER QUESTIONS
prepare for, but take time to reflect on your E F F E C T I V E LY ?
strengths before an interview.
Examples include: What are you good at?, Using the STAR model will help give your
What do you learn quickly? Describe a answers a structure and enable you to give
successful day that youve had. Tell me calm, clear and concise responses. STAR is
about an accomplishment youre proud of. particularly useful for answering competency-
based questions eg. Can you give me
Technical questions an example of when you have positively
contributed to a team? Tell me about a time
 These test your specific technical when youve had to solve a difficult problem.

S T A R
S I T U AT I O N TA S K ACTION R E S U LT
What was the What did you What did you do? What was the
occasion/setting? need to do? Describe the action result?
that you took.

STAR example for problem-solving skills agreed that we needed time to go over the
presentation and plan delivery. I explained
Situation Assessed presentation of a the situation to the course convener, who
group project to academic staff and peers agreed to reschedule our time-slot to the
at University. The student presenting for end of the day and for us to use a room
our group was ill on the day and unable to to plan our new delivery. This ensured
attend. that the whole group had confidence in my
presentation.
Task To present the project as planned
to gain maximum results: a distinction. Result I successfully used problem-
solving skills to restructure the afternoon
Action Im a strong presenter and and present the talk. Feedback was
wanted to ensure that we gained a good positive and we achieved our goal of a
grade for the project, so I volunteered distinction for this work.
to do the presentation. As a group we
INTERVIEWS

Give your answers more impact by: What are your strengths?
Focus on what you can bring to the job and
using recent examples offer the company. Before the interview,
making the action part (what you did, decide on four or five key strengths: this is an
organised, planned etc) the biggest part of opportunity to match your strengths to the job
your story role using relevant examples. Hint theyll be
talking about what you achieved and particularly interested in your ability to solve
learned and how this will help you in the problems.
future or in the job youre applying for
mentioning positive feedback What are your weaknesses?
using data to quantify your result if possible. Identify a weakness or an area that you could
develop further and talk about what youre
HOW DO I ANSWER COMMON doing to overcome this. This demonstrates
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS? your ability to reflect and problem solve.

Tell me about yourself Where do you see yourself in 510 years


Choose four or five key things about yourself time?
that are relevant to the role eg. specific skills, Research what a reasonable career path in
qualifications, experience, something youre your role would look like in five years time.
particularly proud of, or passion for your area Dont be overambitious but emphasise your
of expertise. Practise answering succinctly to enthusiasm for the current position and look
create a good impact. to the next steps for building your career in
this area.
Why are you interested in working for this
organisation? NEED MORE HELP?
Do your homework and research their
products, services, expansion plans, and We can help you get ready for your interview
working culture. Think about what appeals by going through test questions and giving
to you eg. Youve run some great innovative pointers on how to prepare. You can book to
campaigns and I would love to be part of that attend our interview skills workshop or make
creative thinking. an appointment with a Careers Adviser at:
careerhub.sussex.ac.uk
Why should we hire you?
First make it clear that you believe you meet You can also use the Big Interview for mock
all of the role requirements. Then, back this interview practise:
up with relevant examples of how youve sussex.biginterview.com
demonstrated two or three of these key skills.
Demonstrate your enthusiasm and motivation We can provide a private space for your
throughout. telephone or video interview. Contact us or
ask a member of staff to book a consultation
room for you.
FIND OUT MORE

Careers and Employability Centre


The Library, University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QL

01273 678429
careers@sussex.ac.uk
www.sussex.ac.uk/careers

CareerHub
careerhub.sussex.ac.uk

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