Interviews

Great! You have been invited to interview. This is an outstanding achievement in itself. In general, only a small number of applications reach this stage

Interview Stream

We subscribe to Interview Stream so you can practice the questions you're most likely to be asked.

Register for this free online resource to practise your interview skills using your Stirling email address. You can select the questions you want to answer, record your answers and then review your own performance.  

The Careers and Employability Service offers mock interview practice interviews. To arrange a practice interview please call 01786 466022 or ask at the Student Services Hub 2A, Cottrell 

Most applicants are rejected at the application stage of recruitment so, if you have been invited to an interview, you have already impressed the employer. You should be confident but it is vital to still prepare thoroughly for the interview to give yourself the best possible chance.

Interviews are very much a two-way process. The interviewer decides which candidate is the most suitable and the interviewee has to decide if this organisation is where they would like to work or study. This is why it is important for you to ask questions at the end of the interview.

Read our Interview Technique leaflet.

Re-read your application / CV

Make sure you can elaborate on the information provided in your application / CV and consider examples, of skills and competencies that match the company’s needs.  

Practicalities Ensure you know exactly where the interview will be held and check your travel arrangements for getting there in plenty of time. Wear appropriate clothing. Taking time over your appearance will convey to the employer that you are serious and committed to the post.  

Stay calm and positive

Take a deep breath and remember to smile! You will probably feel nervous—that’s natural. Nerves are your body's way of preparing you for what’s to come. Try to see this as a positive thing—it allows you to think quickly and provide effective answers to the questions.  

Practice

Try to arrange for a mock interview either with the Careers Development Centre or someone you know to practice actually answering interview questions. Failing that, just practice by looking in the mirror! You may feel odd, but the more you can say your answers out loud, the more natural this will feel in the interview. You could also try an Interview Simulator (see above) which lets you record your answers and compare your responses to advice from employers 

Know about the employer

It is essential to prepare information about the organisations to which you are applying. Try to address the following questions:-

  • What does the organisation do and how does it operate?
  • How many branches/subsidiaries does it have?
  • How many employees are there?
  • Where does it stand in relation to competition and who are its competitors?
  • What are its areas of growth?
  • What are its challenges?

Interviews for graduate jobs come in a variety of formats:

  • Face to face interview: This is usually between you and one or two interviewers
  • Panel interviews: These involve several people sitting as a panel, usually with a chairperson to co-ordinate the questions. This type of interview is popular in the public sector
  • Group interviews:  Several candidates are present and will be asked questions in turn. A group discussion may be encouraged and you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates
  • Telephone interviews: A telephone interview will usually be given to candidates who have passed the online application and/or psychometric test stage of the graduate recruitment process, and is used to sift out applicants to be invited to a face-to-face interview or assessment centre
  • Video Interviews: This is a ‘virtual’ interview where you will be given a set of questions and then have to record your responses by video
  • Skype Interviews: These are live link up interviews conducted through your computer.

Strength-based interviews are an approach that some graduate recruiters are moving towards as a way of finding out what candidates enjoy. Strengths-based interviews focus on what you like doing. It is considered to be more accurate, based on the assumption that a person is naturally more enthusiastic about skills that they enjoy using and therefore likely to be more effective in the workplace using those skills. When answering. it’s important to think about experiences where you have felt most effective and engaged.

Example questions:

  • What have you enjoyed most about your course and why?
  • What did you like to do most in your recent work experience and why?
  • What did you like doing least of all? Which achievement are you most proud of?
  • How do you judge if you have had a good day? How would your friends describe you?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What activities come naturally to you?
  • What is your greatest strength?

TARGETjobs: Strength-based interviews

Focus on identifying examples of specific skills you have shown in your previous experience that are related to the role, and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges. They are the most common type of interview used by graduate recruiters. 

These interviews are based on the premise that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour. Your attitudes, beliefs and behaviour will then be compared against criteria which are considered essential or desirable for the job.

Example:

An example of a competency based question for communication skills would be:

  • Describe a situation when you............. 
  • Give an example of a time when you......

Remember in answering this to:

  1. listen carefully to the interviewer and ask for clarification if you are unsure
  2. be yourself, be enthusiastic, and confident 
  3. support your answers with relevant examples drawn from your studies, work and/or extra-curricular activities
  4. vary the examples you give the interviewer
  5. use the STAR approach to structure your answers:
  • Situation: Set the context by describing the situation. Set the scene for your interviewer but keep this part of your answer concise
  • Task: Outline the objective/goal you had to achieve
  • Action:Describe what you did, what your role was and the input you had
  • Result:Describe what the outcome was, whether you were successful in meeting your objective or goal and any skills you developed.

Example Questions:

  • Describe a situation in which you used initiative.
  • Describe a situation in which you solved a problem.
  • Describe a situation in which you took responsibility.
  • Describe a situation where you had to plan or organise something.
  • Describe a situation where you worked in a team.

Strength-based interviews are an approach that some graduate recruiters are moving towards as a way of finding out what candidates enjoy. Strengths-based interviews focus on what you like doing. It is considered to be more accurate, based on the assumption that a person is naturally more enthusiastic about skills that they enjoy using and therefore likely to be more effective in the workplace using those skills. When answering. it’s important to think about experiences where you have felt most effective and engaged.

Example questions:

  • What have you enjoyed most about your course and why?
  • What did you like to do most in your recent work experience and why?
  • What did you like doing least of all? Which achievement are you most proud of?
  • How do you judge if you have had a good day? How would your friends describe you?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What activities come naturally to you?
  • What is your greatest strength?

TARGETjobs: Strength-based interviews

An increasing number of employers are using telephone interviews at some stage in the recruitment process. The questions may focus on general competences and skills required for the job. They may ask questions based on your CV or application form and your interest in the job and the organisation.

Preparation for a telephone interview is as important as a face-to-face meeting.

Top tips

  • Control your surrounding environment: ensure that there is no background noise to disturb you
  • Be prepared: Have your CV, details of the job you have applied for, any relevant notes, a pad, a pen and your diary close to hand.
  • Call at exactly the right time: Or make sure you are available to answer the call at the right time
  • Be professional: Answer the phone professionally and try as far as possible to sound interesting, energetic and enthusiastic. Remember your voice is all the interviewer has to go on.
  • Listen carefully: Make sure you answer the questions succinctly.
  • Take notes: Jot down notes during the interview, or write down what you can remember about the questions and your answers immediately afterwards, while it's still fresh. It will be a useful record to refer to when you go through to the next stage.
  • Have a glass of water handy!

Targetjobs: how to handle telephone interviews

 

Thinking through potential questions and how you might answer them is crucial to good interview preparation.  Here are a few example questions to get you started, but many more are available via the further help section below.

  1. tell me about yourself
  2. what do you know about our company?
  3. why do you want to work here?
  4. can you give me an example of where you've shown your team working skills?
  5. do you have any questions you'd like to ask us?

Don't be scared of this type of interview, it is becoming more usual as employers look to save costs.

The key as in a face-to-face interview is to be prepared, instead of checking the map and bus times, you need to make sure that you are fully aware of how the software works (it could be FaceTime, Google hangouts, Skype or an alternative system).

Being familiar with the technology will make you more relaxed and confident in your performance. It is important not to be casual because you are connecting via a laptop or PC, make sure that setting is free from posters and has a clear space behind.  

Targetjobs: Skype interviews

Mock (Practice)Interviews

If you have an interview for a job or internship coming up, we offer practice interviews at the Careers and Employability Service - just phone us on (01786) 466022 to book an interview, and then send us your CV/covering letter and job description. This will allow us to create an interview scenario which matches the kind of role you are being interviewed for. These can be extremely useful in preparing you for the real interview experience.

Interviewstream

Use Interview Simulator to help you prepare. Take an auto-generated interview against the clock or watch brief, focused employer videos to understand why particular questions are asked and what recruiters are hoping to hear in reply. You can even record your performance.

Interview Simulator lets you practice interview questions and learn what employers are hoping to hear. Register with your university email at www.stir.interviewstream.com 

Watch DVDs online

Making an impact: DVD showing a range of realistic interviews and tips, via careers SUCCEED course (login required)

Events

Find out about the range of events we run on our event pages

Other useful links

 

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