5 Tips For A Successful Job Interview: Top Interview Tips

Wondering how to impress during a job interview? To mark National Careers Week 2024, here are our top five tips for a successful job interview...

Written byHolly Barrow
Published on
Read time7 min read

Whether you're applying for a part-time job alongside your studies or you're about to graduate and on the hunt for grad roles, the process of applying for jobs can be challenging to say the least.

If you've been invited to interview for a job, you likely feel a mix of emotions. It's encouraging that the employer clearly thinks you're capable (or they wouldn't invite you to interview in the first place), but it's also nerve racking knowing you're about be quizzed to prove yourself further!

To mark National Careers Week, we've created this guide to a successful job interview, outlining our five top tips.

Remember, your TOTUM membership doesn't have to end when you enter the world of work - check out TOTUM Professionals to discover how you can continue to get student discounts even after you graduate.


How to prepare for an interview

When it comes to job interview prep, it's easy to become overwhelmed with all the dos and don'ts and interview etiquette, so we're here to keep it simple.

First of all, it's important to go into the interview process feeling confident in yourself and what you have to offer - being invited to an interview is a major milestone in itself! This shows that your CV and cover letter impressed the recruiter or hiring manager, and that they believe you have what it takes to succeed in the role.

Whether you're applying for a part-time retail position or a full-time graduate job, here are the five things you want to make sure you do ahead of your interview...

Research the company/organisation

You've probably heard this one before but it really is vital that you do some research on the company before attending the interview!

Key things to look out for include the company's values as well as its products and services, as having knowledge of these things will show that you're serious about wanting to work for them.

It will also allow you to show how you align with these values and goals and might also help you to come up with your own questions about company culture that you can ask at the end of the interview (more on this later!).

After familiarising yourself with the company's mission and values, you should browse through their website, read recent news articles that they've featured in and take a look at their social media channels to gain insights into their culture and industry standing.

These are all things that will come in handy during your job interview, as you'll be able to refer back to the things you've discovered and show that you have a genuine interest in the company. It'll definitely earn you some brownie points!


Showcase your soft skills

As well as taking into account your technical qualifications, employers often seek candidates with strong soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. During the interview, look for opportunities to demonstrate these skills through your interactions with the interviewer. Practice active listening, maintain good eye contact, and engage in meaningful dialogue.

If you're wondering how you can prepare ahead when it comes to showing off your soft skills, it's always a good idea to come up with some real-life examples of times you've demonstrated these skills. This way you can effortlessly share anecdotes which showcase your ability to collaborate effectively with colleagues, resolve conflicts or think creatively under pressure.

Highlighting your soft skills not only reinforces your strengths but also gives employers insight into whether you'll be a good fit within their team and contribute to the company's success.

Practice interview questions

This is our number one tip for job interview preparation! Essentially, you want to be doing your own mock interviews ahead of the real thing. This could mean getting a friend or family member to help you by asking them to play the role of the interviewer, giving you the opportunity to come up with robust answers to questions they may be likely to ask. Interview practice is key!

While it's impossible to know exactly what the interviewers are going to ask on the day, you can expect a mix of competency-based/situational questions, personality-based questions and potentially technical questions.

Let's break these down along with some examples...


What are competency-based/situational interview questions?

Competency-based or situational interview questions are designed to assess specific skills, abilities, and behaviours that are crucial for success in a particular role. These questions delve into past experiences and actions to evaluate how you've demonstrated key competencies in real-life situations. You'll have to give concrete examples from past experiences, which is where you can prepare in advance by having some key scenarios in your mind.

Here are some common competency-based interview questions that you can prepare examples for:

  1. Can you give an example of a time when you had to solve a complex problem at work?

  2. Tell me about a situation where you had to work as part of a team to achieve a common goal.

  3. Describe a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.

  4. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to adapt to a change in the workplace?

  5. Tell me about a time when you successfully resolved a conflict with a colleague or client.

It's worth noting that these questions can vary depending on the job role you're applying for and the industry in question, but you can get an idea by searching for industry-specific competency-based interview questions online.

What are personality-based interview questions?

Personality-based interview questions are pretty self-explanatory - they're there to gauge your character traits, personal qualities, and behavioural tendencies to determine your compatability with the company culture.

Some examples of personality-based interview questions include:

  1. Describe yourself using three adjectives.

  2. What is your greatest achievement?

  3. What motivates you?

  4. How do you deal with conflict?

  5. Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?

What are technical interview questions?

Technical questions are designed to assess your specific knowledge and skills related to the technical aspects of a job. These will vary depending on the industry and role!

Good websites that may give you an idea of the type of interview questions you can expect based on the role you're applying for include:

How to impress during the interview

Along with the above interview prep that will help to brush up your interview skills, here are additional things you can do on the day to make a good impression!

Arrive slightly early

A common tip for interviews is to arrive slightly early - but not *too* early! We'd recommend arriving around 10-15 minutes early to show that you're punctual and taking the interview seriously.

At the very least, you want to make sure you arrive on time! Factor in additional time for any unexpected emergencies.


Ask questions at the end of the interview

When preparing for a job interview, you should have an idea of some questions you'd like to ask the interviewer(s) after they've quizzed you on everything they want to know.

You'll usually be asked at the end of the interview whether you have any questions to ask, and the worst thing you can do here is to say no!

Your questions don't have to be super niche or complicated, you just want to show interest in the company and the interviewers.

Here are some of the best questions you can ask at the end of an interview:

  • What is your favourite thing about working for this company?

  • What does a typical day look like for you?

  • How has this position changed over time?

  • How could I impress you within the first three months?

  • What opportunities are there for career progression?

As gruelling as the job hunting process can be, we hope these top job interview tips help you!

Looking for more tips and career-related advice? Check out our other guides on TOTUM Talks or jump straight to the following...

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