Interviews: How To

Iona discusses some easy to implement practical ways to prepare and handle any upcoming interviews.

By Iona Craig

An email enters your mailbox with news your hard-worked or scraped together application has gotten you through to the interview stage. You’re pleased, but then as you continue to read the email and there is a date and a time for your designated interview to take place, the email is as much a bringer of stress as it is joy. Below are outlined a list of practical ways to prepare and succeed in any interview you face whether it’s in person, online, for a masters or an upcoming job.

How to Prepare

Break the interview down

It is not uncommon for interviews to have several different components to them. Whether it be a master’s interview or a job interview, the process can seem much less overwhelming by addressing each section individually. Once you have broken the interview down into its main components try and find out what each of these components involves. Sometimes your invitation to interview will have these details on but alternatively it is worth having a look on student forums online to see if previous years candidates or candidates for similar jobs have information posted on them. Speak to people who have been through the process as this will allow you to know exactly what to expect.

Three women sitting around a table with notebooks and laptops.
Preparing for interviews can make things so much easier. Image credit: Christina.

Research

Research – research the job; research the company/degree; research topics around what you’re applying to. Try and learn as much as you can as this will help you in giving the interviewer the answers they are hoping to hear. It is a good idea to make notes of what specifications or skills the job/degree are particularly interested in at this point.

Practice

A quick google search will give you a firm understanding of the sort of questions different posts are likely to ask in an interview. Make a list of as many of these as you can find and try answering these – either get someone to ask them to you or type out answers. For me personally, I feel a bit restricted having set, learnt answers to give in an interview, however I find having thought through the answer previously helps me structure my answer better if I am then asked it in the interview. Do whatever suits you best but ultimately the best way to find out what technics aid you the most is through practicing sitting in a room with someone, being asked questions, as you will in the interview.

“Interviews can be hard, but they are just another skill that needs practiced, finetuned and soon enough they are common ground”

Prepare some questions

Have some well thought through questions to ask your interviewers ready prepared. This is the part of the interview you have control of so use this as an opportunity to show your efforts to learn about the company/course or your knowledge around the area through asking in-depth questions. Be confident in the questions you ask and if you feel comfortable doing so, make it clear you prepared them. It shows your interest, organisation and motivation to take the role on.

On the day

Accept what you are feeling

You may feel tired, burnout, stressed, hyperactive, excited or completely neutral. That is okay. Accept this and move on to getting your headspace focused on the interview. The interview is where you need to preform regardless of what else is going on in your head. Put it to the side as best you can and accept it.

Organisation

This one is standard, but it felt like not dotting the I’s or crossing the t’s to not mention it – be organised beforehand. Know what time you need to be there. Check the email/confirmation of interview to see if you need to arrive earlier than the interview or bring anything. Have water, paper and pen at hand. Be on time.

If in doubt

If the interview commences and it is not going well, that is okay. It is an interview. There will be more. It probable feels worse in your head than in theirs. One of the main sparks to panic is not knowing the answer to a question. One of the best pieces of advice I was given if put in this situation was to say how I would find the information out. Say how you would find out the answer to get up to speed. This demonstrates far more than simply knowing a fact.

Man and woman shaking a hand over a table.
Image credit: fauxels.

And on a final note – good luck with your interview! They can be hard, but they are just another skill that needs practiced, finetuned and soon enough they are common ground.


If you’re thinking about applying for jobs, we have a load of posts on The Study Blog. Check out our advice for finding supportive employers or how to boost your CV.

What was the last interview you had? How did it go? Leave your comments below, tweet us @warwicklibrary or email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk

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