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Imagine that you are the interviewer. Think of every question you would ask to find out if a candidate was the best person for the job. Try to cover all aspects of the job and/or person specification that has been provided. If you’ve been granted an interview on the back of a speculative application then try to anticipate the questions that might be relevant.
Prepare your answers but avoid sounding as if you have rehearsed them. Ask your careers adviser for a mock interview.
Most interviews will contain questions about your competencies and skills, personality, interests and values. Interviewers will expect you to support your answers with evidence from your life to date. A useful strategy for providing that evidence and for answering competency-based questions concisely is to use the STAR technique:
Develop a range of examples of numerous competencies, using the above format. Draw from all aspects of your life. Store them safely and update your examples as you go through your career.
Think of all the questions you would least like to be asked. Is there a gap in your CV? Have you had some poor academic results? Were you ever fired? Prepare an answer to each one. Answer as honestly as you can, without being defensive or blaming anyone. Try to turn your answer into a positive statement with a successful outcome. Show how you overcame any difficulty and what you learned from it.
Sometimes you may wonder if a question has been designed to antagonise you. Questions such as this are designed to test your emotional intelligence, i.e. will you just react or provide a calm and insightful response?
Finally, if you are asked a question that you feel you can’t answer ask to return to it later and, if still unable to attempt it then, say so.
Recruiters must not discriminate on grounds of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability. If you feel uncomfortable about any question then say so. If you feel unsafe or very uneasy, end the interview politely and leave. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, or that your personal safety has been compromised, discuss this with your careers adviser as soon as possible. See equal opportunities for further advice.
Have a list of questions in mind to ask. You may feel that all your questions have been answered at some point during the interview but try to ask some, if only to show enthusiasm and interest.
These might include questions concerning progression opportunities, support for further study or any plans that the company has to expand. Avoid asking questions for the sake of it or asking very basic questions that you should already know the answer to.
If the interviewer does not tell you, at the end of the interview ask when you should expect to hear news of their selection decision and, if you are successful, what the next stage of the process will be. End the interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer and reiterate your enthusiasm for the job for which you have applied.
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