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Career Planning Guide

Career Planning Guide

Job interviews

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking thing, but there are two important things to remember:

  1. You are already good enough to get the job if they invite you to an interview; they are just seeing if you are the right fit.
  2. You can’t control who else they are interviewing. You might absolutely smash it, but there is someone else there who has more experience or expertise than you. When you accept this, it’s actually quite liberating: all you can do is your best and then wait and see.

To prepare for your interview, start by re-reading your application. This might sound obvious, but you need to know what you said! When you were researching the job, in the process of applying, perhaps you made some notes? Dig them out and see where the gaps are: make sure you are confident that you have a strong grasp of the values and ethos of the organisation/institution, as well as the expectations of the role itself. Glassdoor has seven recommendations for what you should know about a company before you arrive for your interview.

The next step is to prepare your answer to the questions you expect to be asked. You should never attend a job interview without having rehearsed (aloud!) an answer to the very basic question: Why do you want this job?! Your answer should include:

  • Why you want to do this job – the specific role advertised (not a generic version)
  • Why you want to work at this place – demonstrate your knowledge of the company/institution
  • Why now – why you are seeking this role right now and how it fits in with your goals.

You should also prepare for a range of questions that cover the key aspects of the role. For an academic post, this will most likely be teaching, research and administration, but they might also ask you for examples of how you have built partnerships or for examples of public engagement work you have done.

You also need to build a portfolio of prepared answers for competency-based questions. These are the kinds of questions where they ask you things like:

  • Tell us about a time when you had to manage conflict.
  • How do you prioritise your workload when you have conflicting demands?
  • Describe your leadership experience.

Prospects has a helpful list of examples of these sorts of questions, to help you prepare.

Further resources

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