Interview Tips - How to Prepare

At your interview you’re certain to be asked questions relating to your CV, your application and the role you are applying for. You might also be asked about the organizaton you are applying to and the wider sector it fits into. Here are some tips that will help you give comprehensive answers on the day.

Anticipate Likely Questions

Many employers now use an interviewing approach where the questions are structured around specific skills and competencies for the role.

For example:

Interview Skill: Team Building

  • Describe a time when you have had worked with your team to improve its performance. What were the problems and what did you do?
  • How do you ensure that every member of your team is able to participate?

Interview Skill: Conflict Management

  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.
  • Describe a time when you turned a customer or stakeholder around from being angry to being satisfied with the service they received.

Interview Skill: Analysis and Decision-making

  • Describe a situation where you have had to make a decision without the input of key stakeholders? How did you manage this?
  • Tell us about a big decision you have had to make recently. How did you go about it?

The skills required for the position are usually listed in the job description. If they are not, try compiling your own list. Search recruitment websites to find similar positions and talk to professionals in the field. If you’re applying for a position in Project, Portfolio and Programme Management or IT service management, you can find details of typical skills and abilities in our Career Path profiles.

Rehearse Your Answers

You can prepare for questions by thinking about situations where you have had to call on these skills. Practice using the STAR technique to structure your examples:

  • Situation – what was the situation you were in?
  • Task - explain what you needed to achieve.
  • Action – what did you do and how?
  • Results – What was the outcome of your action?

Make sure your examples are tailored to the specific vacancy you are applying for. Take a skill like communication. If you are applying a position on a Service Desk, being a skilled communicator might mean showing a mix of empathy as well as the ability to be assertive. However if you are applying for a Business analyst role, it might mean being able to explain complex matters in a simple way and empathy may not matter quite so much.

Vary your examples and keep them recent as recent as possible to maximize impact. Try to be specific - a detailed account of one event is better than a generalized answer covering several situations.

Research the business and prepare your questions

Find out as much as you can about the business and the position you are applying for. You need to know what the organization does, who their customers are and what products or services they offer. You should also research recent news about the organization and the industry they operate in. Most of this information will available on the company website. After gathering your research you will probably identify questions you want to ask, for example:

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges currently facing the company?
  • What will it take to be successful in this role?
  • Can you describe a typical day or week?
  • If I was successful what would you expect me to achieve in the first three months?
  • How do you measure the performance of the team?

Writing your questions down will make it easier to remember them when you are in the interview. It will also create a good impression this demonstrates that you have prepared for the interview.

Give evidence of your achievements

It can be helpful to take a few examples of your work to show what you can do. If you don’t have any specific examples of work, you might want to take along evidence of your achievements, for example:

  • Commendations
  • Customer satisfaction surveys for your area
  • Performance reviews.