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Find out how to prepare for a job interview including what to say and what to wear. 

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Interviews 

Organisations invite candidates to interview to find out more about them and assess whether they’re suitable for the role. They will assess whether you:

  • have the skills and experience needed for the job
  • are motivated to do the job
  • will fit into the team and workplace culture.

Prepare and practice online with Big Interview

Big Interview provides a comprehensive training course and interview practice tool with AI feedback. If you are a recent Sussex graduate, login to Big Interview via CareerHub or email careers@sussex.ac.uk if you need to access your graduate CareerHub account.

Sign up to Big Interview

How to prepare

Preparation is key. Employers often report that candidates are unsuccessful at interview because they don’t prepare well enough.

Do your research

When preparing for your interview, it is important to research the organisation and the role.

Learn about the organisation

Research the organisation, think about who their clients and competitor are. Read the 'about us’ or 'careers’ section of their website and research the wider sector to demonstrate a broad awareness of their work. This will help you be informed at interview, show motivation and interest, and help you plan questions to ask them.

Plan your answers

Go over the job specification to help you plan answers to questions about how your skills and experience match the role. Plan answers about your motivation and reasons why you want to do the job.

Go over your application

Revise your CV, covering letter or application form so that you know it inside out. It’s common for interviewers to ask questions about your application, so think about how you could expand on this with more examples or detail.

Get more details about your application

What type of interview will you be having? Find out how long will it take, if you need to prepare a presentation or answer questions on a case-related study, and who will be interviewing you. You can find out more about them online (LinkedIn).

Think of questions to ask

You will usually be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. This is a good opportunity to show your enthusiasm and research. Prepare some questions in advance. Avoid questions about salary and holidays.

Find out what type of interview you will have

You can ask the employer if they can provide more details about the type of interview you may be having. Knowing the type of interview can help you to prepare and reduce any nerves. See how to answer questions in a job interview.

Common interview types include:

  • Face-to-face panel interviews

    These may be one-to-one or a panel with more than two interviewers. Try to build a positive rapport, listen carefully to the questions and make eye contact. With a panel, direct your answer to the person who asked the question, but involve the others on the panel by briefly including each individual with appropriate eye contact as you speak. 

  • Telephone/video interviews

    Telephone: 

    Use a telephone interview to your advantage by having your research notes in front of you. Questions may be discussion-based or a structured list of set questions.

    You can also:

    • practise with a friend or Careers Consultant to get feedback on your tone of voice
    • ensure you have privacy during the call
    • have your CV/application with you and a pen and paper to make notes
    • have water to hand.

    Video:

    Follow on-screen instructions carefully, talk to the camera and not the screen, and focus on your tone of voice and speed of speech. Refer to notes on your CV but avoid sounding like you’re reading a script.

    You can also:

    • make sure your profile and username are professional (if using Skype)
    • practise presenting yourself on video
    • dress professionally and find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed
    • make sure that any software or equipment you’re using works correctly
    • close any other programs on the computer in case they make a noise during the interview eg. Facebook notifications.

If you are invited to an assessment centre or for a selection test, you may take part in a group interview. 

Think about what to wear to a job interview 

Try to plan what you are going to wear on the day. It’s best to dress smartly for a job interview unless told otherwise, for example a suit.

Plan your journey

Leave extra time to allow for transport or weather problems. Make sure you have a contact number in case of delays.

Think about what you need to take with you

In a folder take a copy of your application, the job specification and a list of questions that you want to ask the employer. For some sectors (like journalism or design) evidence of a portfolio may be necessary. 

Ask for reasonable adjustments if you need them

You can ask an employer to make adjustments so that you feel more comfortable and confident when attending an interview.

You could:

  • ask for an interview to be held online rather than in person
  • receive information about the interviewers beforehand, such as photographs of them
  • request more information about the format and what you can expect
  • let them know if you’re sensitive to particular lighting or noisy environments, or if you feel uncomfortable with eye contact or shaking hands.   

Find out more about your disability rights.

More support

We have partnered with EmployAbility to provide students with disabilities and long-term health conditions with individualised advice and support. The EmployAbility team will also advocate for you with an employer to ensure you receive the adjustments you need.

What to do if you’re not successful

Dealing with rejections can be hard. It can leave you doubting yourself and your career choices. 

If you are rejected at the application stage, it could be time to analyse your CV or application form for clues. It might be that you are not selling yourself well enough, or that you do not yet have the skills or experience that the employer is looking for.

If you are getting to the interview stage, it means that employers think you are capable of doing the job, so it is a matter of improving your interview technique. Try to work on your preparation, make sure you can articulate your skills and use the STAR technique to structure your answers.

Further help and advice

Make an appointment with a careers consultant using CareerHub.

See more from How to apply for a job