The fact that you have been invited for interview means that your CV or application was good enough to overcome the first hurdle, so well done! Good interview technique comes with practice, so it’s worth preparing as much as possible before the big day. Always keep in mind that the interview should be an opportunity for you to find out about the organisation and the job, as well as for them to find out about you.
Preparation for the interview
Competency based interviews and the STAR technique
Though there are occasional exceptions to this format, an invitation to interview for a graduate position will almost always follow a successful application. So use this to your advantage! Re-read your application and analyse it – what have you written that will have interested an employer enough for them to invite you to an interview? And looking at it the other way, is there anything there, or anything missing from it that you think might be of concern?
As well as your application, it’s also worth reading through the initial job description and person specification that was provided for the role. As you read it, try to familiarise yourself once more with what the key skills and qualities are that they’re looking for, and how you can provide evidence of these at interview.
Finally, research is key so make sure you’ve done some on the organisation you’re applying to! Little annoys employers more than when a candidate turns up for an interview with seemingly little idea about the organisation and its aims, values and operations. It’s staggering how many people turn up at interviews without having even looked at the company’s website! Making sure you have a good knowledge of the company and the sector they operate within will be a great way of demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role to the employer. You can read more about ways of doing this here.
During the interview: general tips
The most common form of interview is competency based. In this form of interview the employer will ask the candidate questions based on the core competencies and skills that they’re looking for, and expect the candidate to display that they meet these through their answers. You can see a list of the skills that employers are typically interested in over on our Transferable Skills page.
The STAR technique is widely referred to as an effective way of answering this style of question, both at interview and in application. STAR is an acronym, with the letters standing for:
Structuring your answers using this method will ensure that they are clear, concise and logical to the interview panel, and should also help you resist the urge to ramble unnecessarily. You can read more about the STAR approach and competency based interviews at these places:
Applications and interviews: competencies and skills
Contains a useful guide to what the competencies employers are expecting to see actually mean, as well as giving practical examples that could be used as evidence
Competency-based applications and interviews: the STAR approach
A more detailed guide to the STAR approach.
At the end of the interview
- Try and keep calm throughout, even if you feel like you’re not performing well or the panel aren’t warming to you. It’s very easy to be too critical of yourself, so try to remember that you’re probably doing better than you feel you are.- After you’ve finished an answer, whether you think you’ve answered it well or badly, try to put it to the back of your mind and focus on the next one. You’re unlikely to fail an interview because of one bad answer, but on the other hand if you follow a strong performance in the first half of an interview with some sloppy answers, this could count against you.
- If you’re asked a question and you’re not sure what it means, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or for it to be re-phrased in a different way. It’s unlikely that the interview panel will think any less of you for this, and it’s far better than guessing what sort of answer they’re looking for and getting it wrong.
- If you’ve done this and you’re still stumped for an answer, then once again, try not to panic. Ask if one of the panel can give you a clue, and they’ll probably give you an idea of the sort of thing they’re looking for. If you’re still struggling for an answer then try to offer a sensible guess.
- You’ll almost always be asked at the end of the interview whether there’s anything you want to ask them. This is a very important part of the interview, and shouldn’t be treated any differently to the other questions you’ve been asked before this. Make sure you show enthusiasm both when you ask your questions and as you listen to their answer.
- At the interview’s conclusion, they may well explain how long it’s likely to be before they inform you whether you’ve been successful without being prompted, but if you’d like to know this and they don’t tell you, don’t be afraid to ask. After this, thank them for their time and keep up your professionalism until you leave their offices. Leave the panel with a positive lasting impression of you!
- Hopefully the next stage will be being informed that you’ve been successful. But if the news isn’t positive, then there’s still an opportunity to get a positive out of it. Ask the employer for feedback on your performance, and why they decided not to offer the role to you. Feedback on why you weren’t successful can be very useful, and may just lead to you being successful at your next one!
Practice for any upcoming interviews by recording yourself answering from a selection of hundreds of available interview questions on our online video simulator, InterviewStream. While watching back a recording of yourself can be a disconcerting experience at first, it's a valuable way of assessing exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and working out where you need to improve for the real thing.
Find out how to register and start using InterviewStream with this guide, or jump straight in here.
Practice interviews at King's Careers & Employability
Once you’ve received a date for an actual interview, you can come in for a one hour Practice Interview with one of our Careers Consultants.
Practice Interviews can be booked through King's CareerConnect. Before you're able to book a slot, you'll need to fill in some details about the interview. This will allow you to reflect on the practice that you did in the first stage - and also on your previous interview experience. It gives you a chance to think about your own strengths and weaknesses, and areas that you would like the adviser to concentrate on while they conduct the interview. The more detail you include in this form, the more preparation the adviser can do, and the more tailored the session will be to your individual needs. If you cannot fill in any section of the form, please briefly state why rather than leaving that section blank.
Please make sure to supply a job description and/or person specification for the role you’re applying for, as well as a copy of your CV.
Please note that due to the amount of time it takes for the adviser to prepare and deliver these sessions and the limited availability as a result, you are limited to one of these appointments every four months. You're still welcome to discuss your interview in our 20 minute Careers Guidance appointments, which can be booked on the day from 7:00 through King's Career Connect.