University of Bath

Succeed in the selection process: preparing for an interview - last minute help

Find out what you should do to effectively prepare for an interview when time is limited.

Introduction

Ideally, you need to give yourself enough time to prepare for an interview as it is often the main way that employers confirm your suitability for the position they have available. However, sometimes the amount of time available to you can be limited. In this case, the following is a concise guide to how you can use your preparation time as effectively as possible.

You will need to...

  • Remember that an employer needs to know two things. Can you do the job they are offering? Do you really want to do the job they are offering?
  • Both of the above questions will be answered by getting your response to a series of questions. You should therefore ask yourself; if you were in the employer's position, what would you ask?
  • The job description and person specification will tell you what skills/knowledge/attributes they would ideally want. Work out what you would say if you were asked for evidence for each of these requirements for the job. The STAR system will help in many cases to organise your thoughts, Situation-Task-Action-Result (see our Interviews and Assessment Guide for more details). If there is no job description or person specification provided you will need to guess what they are looking for in a suitable employee. Similar job adverts may be more informative. The Alumni Experts whom you can contact via Bath Connection might provide an opportunity to get information from ex-students who have a similar job (or know someone who does) and if you have time you can book an appointment with a Careers Adviser who will help you.
  • Review your application to remind yourself why you're being interviewed. A fundamental task is to live up to the positive impression you've already made. Make sure you are ready to elaborate on and speak enthusiastically about projects, experiences and arguments you've put forward.
  • Sometimes questions like 'Why do you want this job?' can be the most difficult to answer, but need as much attention as those about your abilities. Think carefully about what made you apply for the job in the first place, what efforts you have put into finding out about the organisation offering the job and what it entails (e.g. careers fairs, employer visits, people you have sought out and spoken to about the job). Refer to past experiences to highlight what you value, enjoy and want to achieve or do more of.
  • You will almost always be given the opportunity to ask the recruiters some questions. Think carefully about what you really need to know in order to accept any offers made to you. It is after all a two-way process, you also need to be satisfied that the job will help you achieve your career goals. Good questions can also be a measure of your motivation.
  • After any interview think about what went well and what didn’t. Note any important conclusions. If you get the job, well done. If you didn’t, learn from the experience.

Good luck!

Other pages on succeeding in the selection process