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Interview skills

Interview skills video

This video shows you how to approach an interview, and the key points to remember.

You can see other videos from Skills Jersey on their YouTube channel.

Skills Jersey YouTube channel

Before your interview

Pre-application contact

Contacting an employer for an informal discussion regarding a job before applying will give you the opportunity to ask questions and give you a real insight into the position and organisation. It also demonstrates that you are a keen and proactive individual.

Research

It is essential that you research the organisation you have applied to before the interview. Take note of: 

  • the company's website
  • their core business activity
  • the goals and targets of the organisation
  • the clients they work with

Plan your answers

To avoid giving ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to questions, rehearse your answers to questions that you are likely to be asked, such as:

  • past experience
  • ability to do the job 
  • transferable skills
  • knowledge of the organisation 
  • future career plans

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

At the end of an interview you will usually be given the chance to ask questions. Have a few questions prepared that show your interest in the role, the company and the development opportunities it offers. Do not raise questions about salary at first interview stage, this should be addressed at a second interview or offer stage.

Plan your journey

Ensure you know exactly where your interview will take place and plan your journey, allowing time for unexpected delays. Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your interview time.

On the day

Re-read your CV and the job description

You will be asked questions about your CV and the job role and responsibilities so ensure that both are fresh in your mind before the interview.

Dress to impress

Wear appropriate clothing and always make an effort to look smart. Remember:

  • it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, you cannot go wrong wearing a suit
  • it’s important that you feel comfortable in what you are wearing; avoid clothing that is too short or fitted
  • consider covering tattoos and removing body piercings

Don't be late

This is the quickest way to create a bad impression with a potential employer.

First impressions count

Always greet interviewer(s) with a firm handshake, smile and make eye contact with each member of the interview panel. It is also important that:

  • you're not chewing gum going into the interview
  • your mobile phone is switched off (a vibrating phone can be an unwanted distraction in an interview)
  • you smile and project enthusiasm throughout

Give full and positive answers

Try to give examples and explain your experiences, highlighting your strengths and relevant qualities. Avoid criticising former employers or colleagues.

Be honest

Never lie about past experiences or qualifications as you are likely to be caught out.

Attitude

Employers are looking for people with a positive, ‘can-do’ approach. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn can compensate for lack of experience in certain areas.

Body language

You will be assessed on how you sit and whether you maintain eye contact during questioning so be mindful of this throughout.

End on a positive note

Once you have asked your questions thank the interviewer for their time and end on something positive, for example you hope you have put across to them how much you would like this opportunity.

General interview questions that you might be asked

  1. What do you know about the company / business?
  2. Why do you want the job? This looks at your levels of motivation and commitment. Make sure you research thoroughly what the job entails
  3. What skills and experience would you be able to bring to this company? Employers are looking for a quick snapshots of you (both your background and your personality), how well you sell yourself and your capabilities. Don’t ramble on
  4. What are your interests/skills/experience/goals? Employers want real life evidence that clearly demonstrates you have particular skills. Practise talking through your chosen examples

Competency questions that you might be asked

These are interview questions that require candidates to provide real life examples as the basis of their answers.

  1. Give me an example when you have had to use your own initiative?
  2. Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference?
  3. Give us an example where your listening skills proved crucial to an outcome?
  4. How would you go about building a good working rapport with colleagues and customers?
  5. Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you had never attempted previously?

Examples of questions you might want to ask at the end of your interview

  1. What training do you offer?
  2. Are there any opportunities to gain further qualifications?
  3. Can you describe a typical day?
  4. How will my performance be measured? 
  5. What are the key things I will be doing in the first six months? 
  6. When would I be likely to hear if I am successful?

After your interview

It is essential to follow-up with the employer to ask for feedback on your interview, whether you were successful in being offered the position or not. This will help you to develop your interview skills and be as prepared as possible for future interviews.

You may prefer to ask for this feedback a week or two after receiving the initial phone call / letter / email advising you of the outcome of the interview, this will give you time to reflect and think about questions you might want to ask the interviewer.

This advice is designed to help you prepare for interviews, however, if you have further questions or would like a practice interview contact Skills Jersey. If you are still in education,  speak to your careers teacher.​

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