Careers and Employability Centre


Organisations interview candidates to find out:

  • If they can do the job, do they have the skills and experience?
  • Will they do the job, are they motivated?
  • Do they fit in with the culture and team?

Interviews are a key part of the recruiting process and it is crucial to be well prepared.

Check out this video for some useful interview tips:


With thanks to CareerPlayer, Graduate Jobs and Career Advice on video

Types of interview

Find out what type of interview to expect. Interviews might include any of the following:

  • First interview
  • Second interview
  • By telephone or face to face 
  • By video or Skype
  • One to one or a panel of interviewers
  • Questions based on your CV or application form
  • Competency based questions
  • Case study exercise    
  • Academic or technical questions
  • Assessment centres and selection tests  
  • Giving a presentation

Before the interview

Make sure you prepare

Find out about the organisation and possibly the interviewer as well as this will give you an idea of what their focus might be. 

Remember it’s a two way process

Think of about 10 things you want to leave them with as you walk away. Decide on your unique selling points (USPs) which will distinguish you from the competition.

Know your CV inside out

Revise what you told the employer about you in your application. Ensure that you can expand on your written application; talking about your skills and experiences out loud will help you rehearse.

Revise the job specification

Familiarise yourself again with what the employer wants from the candidate and revise the job specification or profile. Do any last minute research on the organisation; have they been in the press lately?

Plan what to wear

A smart but low key outfit is best. Some organisations have a more relaxed approach to dress than others but unless you are told to dress informally it is a good idea to wear a suit or equivalent.

If you want to discuss your preparation for interview we have appointments available every weekday with our Careers Advisers. Call us on 01273 678429 to book. Please check our website for opening times and Adviser availability during vacation.

Dealing with nerves

Some nerves are inevitable and employers will expect this so try not to worry too much. Being well prepared for questions as outlined above will help but also be prepared psychologically too.

Top tips

  1. Eat well, drink enough water and get plenty of sleep near the day so you are alert
  2. Breathe. When we are nervous we take shallow breaths which deprive our brains of oxygen. Take occasional deep breaths to counteract this
  3. Think positive. Happy thoughts will put you in a positive frame of mind

During the interview

Initial impressions are especially important. Remember you are on show as soon as you enter the employer’s premises. Be aware of how you come across, remember that about 90% of the impact we make is in the delivery of our message ie the voice and body language we use.

Make a good impression

  • Walk tall and be grounded before you speak
  • Make eye contact and smile (even on the phone a smile is reflected in your voice)
  • Shake hands
  • Say who you are clearly

When the interview is underway

  • Sit reasonably upright
  • Keep hands on show
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Keep an open posture
  • Minimise things you do when nervous
  • Speak clearly
  • Remember to breathe!


There are two main types of questions: general and competency. General questions tend to be open eg ‘tell me about yourself?’, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ It is a good idea to think about what you would say and say it out loud. This will help you to refine your thoughts and practise being clear and succinct.

Competency based questions test your skills and experience eg ‘describe a time when...’. Typical competencies include creativity, analytical skills, teamwork, and leadership but research the competencies that the job role requires; find these in the job specification and the organisation’s website. Employers want evidence so make sure you can give a couple of  examples for each competency to illustrate your point.


It is a good idea to structure your answers to help the interviewer take in the information. There are various approaches including:


Good for competency based questions

S - Situation - Briefly give the context.
T - Task - Give an outline of what you hoped to achieve.
A - Action - Describe what you did. Use active verbs.
R - Result - Explain the outcome and anything you have learned as a result.

Top down

Start with the main point you want to get across and then expand with some detail.

Number your points 

For example ‘I have three points to make’.

At the end of the interview

Show your interest by asking some questions. You may be able to think of good ones in advance or they may come out of the discussion but always ask about the role or the organisation. Avoid questions about salary and holidays unless the employer mentions them.

Big Interview

Take a virtual mock interview, rate and share it for feedback. Plus comprehensive video training, interview question database and answer builder. Be prepared!

See Big Interview - Setting up and How to use [PDF 2.19MB]

If you are a recent Sussex graduate, login via CareerHub or email for an access code.

How to use us

  1. Come to an Interviews workshop


  2. Use our resources to prepare for interviews
  3. Get advice. Make an appointment or submit a question online via Ask a Question

See also

Other resources

Strengths-based interviews

A growing number of employers are moving away from competency-based interviews towards strengths-based. Find out more about how they work:

Interview support

  • Our consultation rooms are available as a space to do phone interviews, and interviews over Skype. You can book a booth and we can provide a webcam and headset
  • You can book an appointment to speak with one of our advisors about your interviews. Book an appointment online

Presentation slides on preparing for interviews