Preparing for an interview

What to expect at an interview

An interview is a formal discussion between you and the interview panel. The interview panel will usually consist of two or more people who work in the area that you have applied to join.

During the interview, the panel will ask you a standard set of questions about the role and you will be given the opportunity to prove your suitability for the post.

Depending on the role, you may be asked to complete specific tasks as part of the interview process. These are designed to give the interview panel a better insight into your abilities and skills, and could include:

  • a presentation
  • written or in-tray exercises
  • numerical or verbal reasoning skills exercises
  • keyboard skills

If this is the case, you will be told in your interview letter.

Reasonable adjustments

If you have a disability as outlined by the Equality Act 2010 and require reasonable adjustments to be made during the recruitment process, please let the panel know in advance if you have any special needs for support, aids or adaptations to assist you in the interview process.

Preparing for your interview

Preparation is key to feeling calm and in giving you confidence to perform well at interview. To help you prepare, you should:

Read through your application form

  • remind yourself of what you wrote
  • think about which areas of your application form the interviewer might ask you to talk more about and how you can relate them to the role.

Find out about the job

  • go through the job profile to see exactly what you would be doing in the role and try to get a sense of the attributes the employer is looking for
  • write down examples which you can give to show that you have the skills and attributes listed in the job profile.

Research about the employer

Research is an important part of interview preparation. It will help you to prepare answers to interview questions and questions that you could ask the panel at the end of the interview.

  • It's important to find out as much as you can about the organisation and the services it provides. Google is a great tool for helping you to do this.
  • Prepare a couple of questions that you would like to ask the panel at the end of the interview. This will help you to demonstrate your interest in the position. The questions should be about the role or the organisation. There are some questions you should not ask, for example how good is the sickness scheme.


  • plan how you will get to the interview venue, and find out how long it will take to get there.
  • on the day of interview, make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and aim to arrive a little earlier than your scheduled interview time.

What to take with you:

  • interview letter
  • if a requirement of the job is to be qualified in a specific area or you are required to hold GCSEs or other academic qualifications that are specified in the job profile you must bring the original copies of your certificates with you to the interview.
  • ID documentation such as your passport or birth certificate
  • any other forms that were sent to you to complete and bring with you to the interview

Dress appropriately

Plan what you will wear to your interview. Your appearance needs to be smart but at the same time it is important for you to be comfortable.

The day of the interview

  • Arrive on time or a good 10 minutes earlier than the time of your interview
  • Try to relax
  • Once you arrive at your interview venue, remember to switch off your phone or put it on silent.

During the interview

First impressions count

  • Greet your interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Give eye contact
  • Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. Be courteous and friendly towards everyone you meet.
  • Do not slouch, sit up straight and be attentive.

Answering questions effectively

  • Listen carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or repetition if you don’t understand the question.
  • Don’t worry if you need to take a few moments to consider your answer, the panel will understand.
  • Remember that the interviewers are normal people, they may be nervous too!
  • Stay calm and positive.

The STAR technique

Structure your answers by practicing the STAR technique as this will give your answers a logical format:

S = Situation - what was the situation and when did it take place?

T = Task - what task was it and what was the objective?

A = Action - what action did you take to achieve this?

R = Result - what happened as a result of your action?

At the end of the interview

  • At the end of the interview you will be given an opportunity to ask questions.
  • This is your opportunity to “sell yourself” and let the panel know what you can offer if you are appointed to the position and why you are the right person for the role. This is also a really good opportunity to tell the panel anything about you or your skills that you may not have had an opportunity to do through your interview.
  • As you leave, you may wish to thank the interview panel for inviting you to the interview.

Following the interview

If you are successful following the selection process, a conditional offer of appointment will be made to you. However, this will be based on satisfactory clearance of any background checks that will need to be made and receipt of certain documentation. These may include:

  • two satisfactory references (one must be from your current or most recent employer). For certain posts, three references may be required.
  • satisfactory medical clearance.
  • a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, where applicable.
  • original certificates of your qualifications (if you have not already provided these to the panel at your interview).
  • documentation to meet our obligations under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (if you have not already provided these to the panel at your interview).
  • original driving licence if your job involves driving for work reasons. A paper version if you don't have a photo licence.

……and finally, good luck!