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Interview tips

Having an interview can be daunting but remember that you have been invited because they think you can do the job.
A young man seated across the table from his mentor covers his smile with his hands.
Mentor pairs meet for the first time at an introductory event in London.

How to prepare

  • Research the organisation. Find out that their values are, what their mission is and think about how you align with those.
  • Research the people who will be interviewing you and find out what you can about them. Ask HR if you don’t know their names.
  • Look up relevant and recent news stories, plays, books, films depending on the job you’re going for. If you do this, in the interview you will be able to show you have a general understanding and interest in the sector.
  • Don’t over-prepare because it will leave you stumped if you get a surprise question!
  • Do a mock interview. You can ask Arts Emergency for help with this.
  • If you’re feeling really nervous you might find doing a power stance, practicing deep breathing, or listening to a favourite song motivating.
  • Make sure you know where the organisation is and the route you will be taking.
  • If you have additional needs or need something to make the interview more comfortable, let the organisation know in advance.

What to do (and what not to do) during an interview

  • Listen carefully to the questions - make sure you are actually answering what they have asked you.
  • Take a breath and take time to think before you answer. Take notes with you if you need backup.
  • Give solid examples to your answers. Instead of saying “I’m really creative” say “I’m really creative, for example last year I made a short documentary on my phone about roller skating. I taught myself how to edit it using Adobe”.
  • Don’t be late, make sure you leave plenty of time to get to your interview.
  • Don’t lie!

Types of questions

  • There are a few standard questions you might be asked in an interview, which you can prepare for in advance. For example:
    • How do you deal with difficult decisions?
    • What is your greatest strength?
    • What is your biggest weakness?
    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
    • Describe a time where you have worked in a team.
  • If you get a question that requires you to think critically, e.g. how many jellybeans do you think there are in the UK? it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the answer right! What matters is that the interviewers can see the logic that you are using. Explain to the interviewers how you are approaching the question e.g. well the first thing I would do is find out how many jellybean companies there are in the UK, how many jellybeans they produce a year...

Ending the interview

  • Ask questions. Interviews are also a way for you to find out if you’re a good fit. Ask about the areas you want to know more about e.g. the culture of the organisation, what your interviewers like most about their role, or what opportunities there are for development.
  • Thank the interviewers and follow up with one thank you email.

What to wear

  • It’s best to dress smart, in clothes that don’t have any obvious slogans or labels but make sure you are comfortable.
  • If you are registered with Job Seekers Allowance you could get money to go towards buying smart clothing. Check this with your work coach.

Online interviews

This advice all applies for interviews that take place online, as well. In addition:

  • For online interviews over video, it’s a good idea to make sure your background is neutral with nothing distracting on show.
  • If you want to show examples of your work, you can send the interviewers a live link.