How To Ace Your Interview

Do you have an interview coming up? Whether it’s for a job or a place on a course you’re going to be wanting to leave some seriously good impressions. Good news for you, then, that have produced this mega guide of what how to ace is like a boss!

How to prepare for an interview

Hopefully you already have a fairly good understanding of the job role that you have applied for and a pretty good idea about the company too. It never hurts to go over some details though and dig a little deeper.  This way, you won’t get caught out by typical interview questions like the ones below.

Typical interview questions

Why do you want the job?

One of the frequently asked questions at interview is why do you want the job? Now you might be thinking that the obvious answer is ‘because I need to earn a living and you’re advertising’ or ‘because your office is conveniently located’ and these are relevant factors in applying for any job. The question is – why is the employer asking you this question and what is a good way to answer it?

Try to remember that an interview is part of the employer’s selection process and not just a chat. This means that although the location of the offices might be a key factor for you wanting the job – this clearly isn’t a primary factor for the employer in choosing the right candidate for the role.

Ask yourself (before you get to the interview) – what is a key part of the job role that you are applying for? For example, imagine that you are being interviewed for the role of a teacher; a failure to mention the role of a teacher in helping children progress educationally is likely to put an employer off you because it is a fundamental part of the job.

With this in mind, make sure that you have a very good understanding of the job role, read the job description and job spec properly (ideally you will have done this before you even apply) and consider how your desire for this job fits with that role and the duties associated with it.

Interview questions about wider aspects of the role

Keeping in mind the example of a teaching role, it should be clear that although the primary role of a teacher is to educate, there are many other aspects to the role of a teacher such as special educational needs, child protection, equality, diversity and inclusion and family liaison to name just a few.  Interviewers will want to discover how well you understand these different aspects so be sure to prepare.

Interview questions about working with others

Often the kind of questions that you get at interview that relate to working with others will differ depending on the level of role that you are applying for. In the role that you are applying for is entry level then the chances are that the employer will want to find out how you deal with taking instructions and how effective you are as a self-starter. For more senior positions, particularly when it involves working with a well-established team, the employer will probably want to gauge how well you would be able to establish the trust and cooperation of that team as a newcomer.

Understanding the values of the company

It is very important that you do your research as regards the company’s ethos.  This means more than quickly looking up their mission statement online and then quoting this back to them.  When an interviewer asks, for example, ‘what do you think you could add to the company?’ they want to gain an understanding as to how your work in practice would reflect that mission and also go beyond it that mission statement and add to it.

The problem of being literal at interviews

If like many of us, you have a tendency to be literal, some interview questions can be a real stumbling block. For some people, the seemingly simple question ‘what gets you up in the morning?’ results in a kind of mental nightmare – ‘my alarm clock’, ‘my mum’, ‘the physical result of having had an adequate night’s sleep’ all seem legitimate answers and somehow the underlying question of ‘what motivates you?’ is lost in translation (or rather a lack of) so to speak, leaving you going home and kicking yourself for having given what is sure to be seen as a totally stupid answer.

It’s a bit of a tricky one – either you fess up before the interview and admit to your literal tendencies, or you consider carefully beforehand these types of questions so that you are prepared for them.

The problem of interview nerves

Everybody gets nervous before an interview and often those interviewing get a little nervous too.  If you are feeling exceptionally nervous though, perhaps just admit it. Ordinarily any polite interviewer will ask how you are before they commence and it’s okay to reply ‘I’m a little nervous actually’.  Most interviewers expect interviewees to be nervous and they do all that they can to put you at ease and also take this nervousness into account when assessing the answers that you give.

At The Sheffield College we offer all of our students advice and guidance on how to make yourself more employable, including interview tips! To get your hands on such advice you’ll need a course first. They’re found here


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