Managing the interview

However much preparation you do beforehand, going into an interview is usually slightly nerve-wracking. Do not make the mistake of thinking that, after entering the room, the situation is out of your hands. There are still a number of techniques you can use to make sure the panel sees you in the best possible light.

Interview preparation

It might appear obvious but it is important that you prepare for the day.

  • Make sure you are familiar with the job description and person specification.
  • Remind yourself of what you wrote in your application on how you met those requirements.
  • Learn about the organisation itself – what makes it different from others and whether those differences will have an impact on your work.
  • Think about what type of questions will be asked about yourself and write down some thoughts on how you might answer them.
  • Prepare some questions to ask the panel. Be careful not to ask for information that has already been provided or discussed during the interview.

First impressions

There are a couple of simple steps to take to create a good first impression:

  • Arrive in plenty of time and allow for contingencies. Remember some organisations can be quite difficult to navigate round. Have a 'Plan B' for how you will get to the interview. If you do get delayed, make sure you notify the appropriate person within the organisation as soon as possible.
  • Dress appropriately making sure that you send out the right signals about your confidence, self discipline and judgement. It might be useful to check the dress code of the organisation by looking at pictures of staff on the organisation's website or asking around.

During the interview

  • Make eye contact with all members of the interview panel. Do not just focus on the person who has asked the question you are answering. It is important to engage with all.
  • Smile! It suggests confidence.
  • Be clear and concise in your responses.
  • Structure your answers with 3 or 4 main points of examples from your own experience.
  • Do not assume that the panel know the detail of what is in your application form or CV.
  • Sell yourself - give real examples of 'how' you have achieved a positive outcome, specify what these were and the benefits. Be clear about what your personal contribution was.
  • Remember to use 'I' rather than 'we'.
  • Make sure you understand the organisation's mission and can talk about why it is important to you.
  • Be aware of your body language. You want to convey that you're enthusiastic, positive and energetic.
  • Remember to ask questions as it helps demonstrate that you are keen and want the job.
  • Be positive at all times.
View information on responding to interview invitations.