What is the purpose of an interview?

In an interview the employer will ask you questions in an attempt to assess your suitability for the role.

What types of interview can I expect?

Many interviews are now online, but you could get any of the following:

A recorded video/online interview : you will receive a link to a video interview platform where you will find around 3-5 pre-recorded questions, and you then record your answers.  Your answers are often time-limited (1-2 minutes is usual).  This is commonly used by large recruiters at a fairly early stage in their selection process.

A live online interview (on Zoom, MS Teams, Skype or similar platform) where you will have an online “face to face” interview with the employer, either with a panel of 2-4 people, or with one person.  You could get several online interviews with different people from the organisation.

A phone interview - like an online interview, only over the phone

A face to face interview where you actually meet the employer or recruiter in person, often at their place of work.


Before the interview

1. Prepare by looking carefully at the job description and at information about the organisation again

  • What skills and experiences are important for this role?
  • Anticipate that you may be asked questions where you will need to demonstrate that you have the relevant skills eg problem solving, team work, communication skills etc
  • Create a list of evidence (examples of things that you have done which demonstrate those skills). This could be from your education, work experience, clubs, societies, volunteering
  • Try to memorise this evidence (if your interview is online, it is often possible to keep notes and prompts with you)
  • Learn about the STAR format as an easy framework you can remember that will help you to structure your answers. You can find out about this on lots of Careers websites and also read our Helpsheet: Demonstrating your Skills and Competencies

2. Research the employer and the sector

  • Know clearly why you want the job and what would make you a strong candidate. Keynote is a good tool for researching sectors and you will also find great advice about particular industry sectors or job roles on Prospects. You could also search for recent news about the company on any search engine.
  • Always be prepared to answer a question that is assessing your motivation eg “Why do you want to work for us, and why in this particular role/department?" etc. Your answer needs to be specific and show that you have really thought about what’s different or special or interesting about that particular organisation, so make sure you do some research and are ready with a great answer! 

3. Sort out the practicalities

  • If the interview will be online, make sure you have a good internet connection, a reasonably quiet environment without distractions and a neutral background behind you. Turn off your phone and turn off any alerts on the device you will be using. If you have concerns about any of these things, tell the recruiter in advance – they know that it’s not always easy and will be sympathetic.
  • If you have any disabilities or learning difficulties, you may want to tell the employer that so appropriate adjustments or allowances can be made.

4.  Practice makes a real difference

  • Practising by actually speaking out loud will really help. Preparing by making notes is fine, but sometimes, when you actually come to say those words out loud, they don’t sound quite right.You can access our free video interview tools on Moodle. Just go to the Careers section on Moodle and select the Interviews and Video Interviews option to find out more.
  • When you actually have an interview coming up, you can book a Practice Interview with the careers service by emailing us at If a Practice Interview slot isn’t available, book a regular Careers appointment – even 20 minutes practicing 2 or 3 key questions with a Careers Consultant could be really valuable.

During the interview

  • Listen carefully to the questions; ask for clarification if you are unsure whether you have understood correctly.
  • Structure your answers to ensure that it’s clear what role or contribution you personally made, particularly if you are referring to things you have done as part of a group or team. They are asking about you, so try to avoid saying “we did this” “we did that” etc, and instead say “I did this”, “I did that”.
  • Try to sound positive and enthusiastic
  • Remember that employers understand that you may be nervous, and they will make allowances. It is perfectly acceptable to ask them to repeat the question if you have lost your train of thought or are feeling nervous.
  • Try to ask some thoughtful questions about the organisation or role at the end. Interviews are a two-way process, a chance for you to find out more too, and having questions ready shows that you’re really thought about the opportunity and the prospect of working there.


  • Reflect on the questions they asked. Were your answers satisfactory, or could you improve on your performance next time? Make some notes, as they will help you to prepare for your next interview.
  • If you were not selected, ask for some feedback. You are more likely to get feedback if you phone rather than email.

What next?

  1. Watch the interview videos on Moodle. Follow students through real interview scenarios and get tips from employers.
  2. Read the handy Interviews helpsheet (it includes information on telephone interviews) on Moodle
  3. Video interview? Find out about practice video interviews on Moodle
  4. Interview approaching?  Book a practice interview with one of our Careers Consultants (email us at or practise with a friend, family member, or even by recording yourself on your phone.  

Text here