Prepare for your Interview
Preparation is key if you are going to succeed at interviews, therefore understanding the process of preparing for interviews is essential.
The best way to think of an interview is as a focused conversation where you and the hiring manager are exchanging information in order to come to a decision. For the interviewer, this means learning more about your experience, skill set and personality. For you as a candidate, it means finding out about the employer’s needs and showing how you can add value if they decide to bring you on as part of the team. It’s also a chance for you to determine whether the role is right for you and whether the company is a place where you would really learn to thrive.
What are the key things the interviewer wants to know?
- Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills, experience and personality for the job?)
- Will you do the job? (How motivated are you? Are you really interested in working for this company? Will you turn up on time every day?)
- Will you fit in? (How flexible are you? Will you fit in with their way of working? Do you prefer to work alone or as a member of a team?)
How to prepare for an interview?
Prior to attending an interview, it is highly recommended that you review the job description, underline all the key requirements for the role including qualifications, work experiences, skills needed to do the job effectively. Then come up with at least 2 to 3 questions you could be asked on each area together with your examples that prove to the interviewer that you have the necessary level of experience to do the job. When preparing your examples, write a few out in the STAR format below, which will help you to get used to structuring your answers in a clear and logical way required during the interview. Also you can draw on the examples from across the 3 areas of your CV – academic, work experiences (paid/unpaid, relevant/non-relevant work), hobbies and interests – all your experiences are valuable. Remember to use positive examples that highlight YOUR strengths and achievements. I contributed to the team by…… My initiative was taken on broad by the employer…..
- Situation (describe the context of the example)
- Task (explain what you had to do/what issue you faced)
- Action (describe the actions you took. Give details about the steps you took to work through this task/issue.)
- Result (what was the outcome or learning for you? What made it successful or unsuccessful? What would you do differently another time?) Employers like stats and outcomes so do highlight any measurable achievements eg. I increased sales by 10% over my targets during the 3 months of my internship.
The next step is to practice speaking out your examples. This is very important so you can reflect on whether you are speaking too fast or too slow, and if you are including all the information you wanted to get across for each example. Practising also helps manage our nerves, so the more practice the better. Do consider contacting the UCC Career Services and making an appointment with one of the Career Advisors to do a mock interview.
Ending the Interview
At the end of the interview, the employer could ask if you have any questions for them. We would recommend preparing one or two meaningful questions but only ask one e.g. 'It mentions on the job description that there are opportunities for training and development as part of the role, I wonder could you say a little about the training available'. Be careful not to ask any question where the information is available on the job description, company website or through your industry research.
Think honestly about how things went – do you need to brush up on any aspect of your interviews technique? Ask a Careers Advisor for advice if you identify any particular issues you want to discuss. Also do keep a log of all questions you were asked for future reference as these could come up again in your next interview.