Interviews

An interview is the key way an employer can get to know you and what you can do. Stand out, compete and impress your potential employer by doing your research and being well prepared.

How we can help

  • Check out our video resources for employer interview tips and for advice on how to deal with difficult questions you might get asked.
  • We run 30 minute short talks covering the basics of interviewing, so come along and find how you can improve!
  • After these, you may want to practice interviewing. If so, you can book a mock interview once you have received an interview offer.
  • Record yourself answering practice interview questions using InterviewStream.
  • Access further articles and advice on mycareer.

Make yourself interview ready

  • Prepare: It might seem very simple but the more prepared you are the more confident you will be at the interview. Make sure you know where the interview is being held, how to get there and what type of interview you can expect.
  • Research: The key to a good interview is making sure that you have thoroughly researched the organisation, the role and the industry to show the employer how dedicated you are to the position. Gaining commercial awareness will help you develop your knowledge about what makes organisations successful and allow you to intelligently talk about their business.
  • Anticipate:There are some questions or themes you know will typically be asked, so prepare for them. These include:
    • Why do you want to work for us/this sector/in this role?
    • What skills or qualities do you have that make you right for this job?
    • Can you give me an example when you have worked in a team/resolved a difficult situation/went beyond your customers’ expectations?
    • Can you tell me a little bit more about your part-time work/volunteering/committee commitments/what you have learnt from your course?
  • Practise: Many students feel very uncomfortable talking about themselves and their achievements at interview, so it’s a good idea to practise. You may want to do this in front of the mirror, using InterviewStream, or with friends or family. We also recommend that you get some practice at the Careers Service where we offer workshops and practice interviews.
  • Ask Questions: Employers will expect you to have questions to ask at the end of the interview. Ask questions that show a genuine interest in the job and a desire to succeed in the role.

Types of interview

If possible, determine the type of interview you will have in advance so that you can prepare. This might be noted in your interview invite, or you might have to do some research. Good places to find this information are the company website, Glassdoor or by asking people in your network. Different types of interview include:

  • Competency/skills based: A common type of interview. You will be asked questions about your CV and asked to give specific examples of where you have developed skills that the employer is looking for.

STAR…

A useful model to help you answer competency/skills based interview questions is the STAR model:

  • Situation - describe the situation briefly
  • Task - briefly explain what was required
  • Action - what action did you take?
  • Result - what was the outcome, what did you learn?
  • Strengths based: Growing in popularity and focus on what you enjoy doing, rather than what you are able to do.
  • Technical: You will normally be advised if you will have a technical interview and this will primarily focus around your degree subject.
  • Case interview: Commonly used by management consultancy firms, as well other city/commercial firms. You will typically be asked to analyse data, present solutions and answer questions on a business scenario you are given during the interview.
  • Telephone interview: A popular, cost-effective way for recruiters to screen applicants, usually before inviting you to a face-to-face interview.
  • Video/skype interview: Using video or web technology, interviews can take place remotely or involve you recording your answers to a set of questions.
  • Academic interview: Often involve a presentation or technical interview focused on your area of research to an interview panel, which may consist of up to 5 people.

Managing Interview Nerves

Most people experience nervousness before an interview but these nerves can often be harnessed for the good and keep us alert. Use our advice below to overcome some typical pre-interview concerns:

  • You don’t understand the question: If you are asked a question that you don’t understand, don’t try to answer it, ask them to clarify what they mean.
  • You can’t think of an answer: It’s ok to ask for some time to think before answering a question. If you can’t think of anything then ask to come back to the question, this is much better than giving a weak answer.
  • You give a poor answer: If you know that you have answered a question poorly, try not to dwell on it. Very rarely will one poor answer affect the outcome of an interview.
  • You get very nervous: If you suffer from this please visit the Careers Service to register for an interview skills workshop or practice interview.
Can we help?

Our practice interview software

We subscribe to Interview Stream so you can practice the questions you're most likely to be asked.

Register using your Bristol email address to see and hear yourself practice some of the 7,000 questions available.