Interview
e-learn

Our e-learn has been designed to help you understand what's involved in an interview, and how you can prepare so that you're in a position to perform at your best.

We've used a blend of learning styles, some are interactive, to give you the opportunity to test your thinking. You can navigate to any part of the e-learn at any time, however, we'd encourage you to complete each section in order initially, so you get the most benefit.

About
the e-learn

Learning
conclusion

An interview gives you an opportunity to learn more about the organisation and role you're applying to and helps you establish if the role's right for you.


What is an interview?

An interview is a two-way conversation with a purpose.

It will:
  • Give you an opportunity to learn more about the organisation and role you're applying to.
  • Help you establish if the role's right for you.

Employers want to find the best person to fill the job they have. To do this they will assess your suitability for both the role and the organisation that you've applied to. An interview is an opportunity for a potential employer to find out whether you have the right skills and experience to be successful in the job. In most cases it's an opportunity for the interviewer to gain evidence against the specific criteria that they're looking for, sometimes referred to as competencies. Potential employers are not looking to catch you out; they'll want to find out more about you, as well as understand how much you know about the job and organisation you're applying to.

An interview should allow you to decide:
  • If you have a better understanding of the role as a result of the interview?
  • What you like about the job and organisation from what the interviewer told you?
  • What you may dislike about the role or organisation, if anything? To what extent does this concern you?
  • If you visited their offices for the interview, could you see yourself working there?
Learning
conclusion

It's your responsibility to make sure you know what type of interview you're having.

The interview format may vary at different stages of the
process.

If in doubt ask your recruitment contact.

Interview formats

There are a few different interview formats to learn about. Below are some examples:

  • Face-to-face interview - conducted in person
  • Telephone interview - conducted over the telephone, usually at a predefined time
  • Panel interview - conducted by more than one interviewer
  • Virtual interview

Competency based interviews

A competency based interview aims to assess people against a predefined criteria. Competencies are usually based around skills, behaviours, knowledge and attributes that are necessary for someone to perform effectively and be successful in a job. Like PwC, many organisations will have a set of competencies that they'll use for their interviews and recruitment process. This will give them a complete picture of someone's capability. We'll go into the PwC criteria and competency framework in more detail in the next section of the course.

Preparing

When are interiews used?

Interviews are used in many situations, and all for the same reasons; for both parties to gather information. Here are some examples of when interviews might be used:

  • Application to a university.
  • Application for voluntary, temporary or casual work.
  • Application to position of responsibility. For example applying to be a course representative, a role in student club or society.
  • Application for an apprenticeship, an internship, work placement or graduate role.
  • Promotion to a more senior grade or move to a different role within the same organisation.
  • Applying for a new role with a different employer.
Learning
conclusion

An interview is your opportunity to really sell yourself, so make the time to reflect on what you have to offer. Prepare your evidence that's aligned to the competencies of the organisation or things that are important to them.

Interview preparation

There are a few things that you can do to make sure that you're fully prepared for an interview:

Investigate the type of interview you'll have
It's important that you make sure you're clear about what type and format of interview you'll be having so you can best prepare for it. So make sure you know if it's a competency or strength based interview, or perhaps a one-to-one or panel interview. If it's not clear, then make sure you contact the organisation so that you know and can prepare in the right way.

Match your experiences
Think about how you can demonstrate your skills and abilities against their competency criteria.

Make sure you start your preparation well in advance of the interview. Plan to offer the interviewer specific details of your particular abilities and achievements. Indicate what you've done to demonstrate the skills they're looking for. There are some examples of how you can do this in the next section.

Tips

When preparing for your interview, you must research the organisation thoroughly.

After entering the approach you think you might take, you'll find out our suggestions and some further guidance.

Learning
conclusion

There are multiple channels and sources you can use to research the organisation you've applied to.

What do you think?

Use the input text field to list possible channels you could use in your research.

> Reveal the results

Tips

This list is not exhaustive, you may have access to other channels that will help too.

Learning
conclusion

Think carefully about the information you want to find out which will help with your search.

This will also help if you're applying to a university.

Here's what we recommend

Hover over each option for some additional information

Company's annual report
Publications, website and blogs about the industry you've applied to
Employer's careers website
Your personal network; friends, family, teachers and colleagues
Company social media websites
Please complete the above question & click the button to see how you've done.

The STAR
technique

Situation:
Set the scene
Task:
Explain what you did
Action:
What actions did you take
Result:
Explain what the outcome was
Tips

Remember to use the STAR technique to structure your answer during an interview.

How to prepare

The STAR technique is a way to help you structure your response, in any interview

  • Re-read your application or CV and familiarise yourself with the responses you used.
  • Review the job description to make sure you clearly understand what the role is you've applied to.
  • Refresh yourself on how your skills and past experiences link to the competencies being assessed. Use the STAR technique to structure your response.
  • Research the organisation and industry that you've applied for and think about why you want to work for them over their competitors, or perhaps what appeals about their sector to you.
  • Think about the questions you'd like to ask in your interview.
  • Practice your interview techniques with a friend, colleague or family member.
  • An effective way of making sure you answer the interview questions concisely is the STAR technique, which is outlined in more detail on the left.

In the next section we'll have a closer look at some competencies and consider how your skills and past experiences might link into these.

Test yourself

Openness to change

Adapting to changing circumstances and open to new ideas. Shows respect and sensitivity towards cultural differences; adapting your interpersonal style to suit different people or situations. Dealing positively with uncertainty, whilst focusing on the opportunities presented.

Tips

Review and think about what this may mean in a behavioural context.

Openness to change

Look at the competency definition on the left and select the options you think relate to this competency.

Working in an environment which is constantly changing
Respecting different perspectives and cultures
Adapting your approach to work/working with others
Trying new ways of doing something
Working with little clarity and remaining positive

> Reveal the results

Openness to change

Adapting to changing circumstances and open to new ideas. Shows respect and sensitivity towards cultural differences; adapting your interpersonal style to suit different people or situations. Dealing positively with uncertainty, whilst focusing on the opportunities presented.

Tips

Now, consider this definition and think about what examples you might share with the interviewer, to demonstrate the behaviours in this competency. We've listed some below to help you get started:

  • Have you ever adapted your inter-personal style when working with others to achieve a more successful outcome?
  • Was there a time when you've worked with little guidance from a supervisor or tutor?
  • Have you worked in a different way or a different environment?
  • Have you ever had to make a decision when you've only had half of the information?

Openness to change

All of these are valid options.

Working in an environment which is constantly changing
Respecting different perspectives and cultures
Adapting your approach to work/working with others
Trying new ways of doing something
Working with little clarity and remaining positive
Please complete the above question & click the button to see how you've done.
Tips

When thinking of ways you can give examples, it's important to also think about how they benefit the employer.

Relationships and communication

Your interviewer may ask you how you have developed a relationship, for example.

What sort of examples could you use to show how you've developed a relationship? Then, share some examples of when you've demonstrated good communication skills.

Relationships

> How do you compare?

The competency area, Relationships, looks at how you get on with other people, so you could think about using some of the following examples:
  • Have you ever taken the time to get to know a customer, colleague or even your boss, really well? This might be in the context of a more casual, temporary or part-time job.
  • Are you a member of a club or society and do you regularly contribute?
  • Have you built strong relationships with others? Who are they and how do you know you've built strong relationships?
  • Have you built networks outside of your school, college, university, club or society?
  • Did you make and maintain useful contacts following work experience or a work placement?
Communication

> How do you compare?

This competency area, Communication, relates to how you convey information so you could think about the following as examples
  • Have you explained a piece of work/ technical information to someone who knew nothing about this?
  • Have you used a variety of techniques to share some information e.g. email/ social media/ telephone?
  • Have you had to change your style of communication when presenting a topic to an audience e.g. at school/college/university or work?

> Reset


PwC's approach

At PwC we would expect you to come dressed in business attire for one of our interviews - this means you should look professional and you may choose to wear a suit. Look at the employer's website to see how their people are dressed.

Pre interview guidelines

When preparing for an interview, you should also consider the following practical tips.

Plan your journey

Make sure you know the exact location of your interview and allow extra time to get there in case your journey is disrupted. Have a contact number saved into your phone so that you can make contact in case of delays.

Know who you're meeting

Check your interview invitation; if it includes names of the people who will be interviewing you, look them up to find out more about them, and what they do in their organisation.

Dress code

An organisation may provide guidelines around their dress code policy; if they don't then you should consider the organisation, sector, role and position that you have applied for.

Turn off your mobile

Remember to turn off your mobile phone if you're having a face-to-face or video interview, it would be embarrassing for you if it rang during your interview.

During your
interview

First impressions

First impressions really do count. When you first meet someone your introduction is the opportunity to make a positive initial impact.

Having a positive start to your interview will make you feel good and will help you relax during your interview.

Face-to-face and panel interviews:

Interviews are used in many situations, and all for the same reasons; for both parties to gather information. Here are some examples of when interviews might be used:

  • Application to a university.
  • Application for voluntary, temporary or casual work.
  • Application to position of responsibility. For example applying to be a course representative, a role in student club or society.
  • Application for an apprenticeship, an internship, work placement or graduate role.
  • Promotion to a more senior grade or move to a different role within the same organisation.
  • Applying for a new role with a different employer.

Telephone and virtual interviews:

  • Remember the name of the person who's running your telephone interview.
  • Have a copy of your application form or CV with you so that you can refer back to it.
  • Keep a glass of water to hand in case you get a dry throat.
  • Remember to still smile as this can convey enthusiasm in your voice which will come through in the call.
  • If you're having a virtual interview, treat it as a face-to-face interview, so that you look professional.

During your interview

Think about your body language

  • Sit up straight and be aware of your posture throughout the interview.
  • Be positive.
  • Maintain a good level of eye contact.
  • Smile.
  • Don't fidget or play with anything, such as your pen or hair.

Speak clearly

  • Make sure you really listen to the questions you're asked, so you can focus your answers.
  • Remember not to sound too pre-rehearsed when talking as it may come across as stifled.
  • Remember the STAR technique by providing examples of how you meet the competency if you're undertaking a competency interview.
  • Speak clearly and be confident when sharing your responses.
  • Limit your use of word padding by not using words like 'err', 'yeah', 'you know'.
  • Don't speak too quickly or too slowly.

Keep on track with what you want to say

  • Don't give one word answers, but also avoid waffling. Try and answer the question as directly as possible.
  • Take your time. It's fine to take a moment to collect your thoughts. You may want to take a drink to give yourself more time to think.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question if you didn't understand.
  • Make sure you answer the question you were asked, and not the question you hoped would be asked, or the one that fits the answer you've prepared.
  • Don't be afraid of silence, your interviewer will be making notes. This is more noticeable during a telephone interview when you can't see what the interviewer is doing and it may not be obvious to you because you're on the phone.

At the end of the interview

At the end of the interview you'll be offered the opportunity to ask questions. Take time to consider what things you really want to know, so that you make the most of this opportunity. Your questions could help you to demonstrate:

  • Your knowledge of the job, employer and industry; this can further demonstrate your commitment. If you're applying to a very competitive area, this part of the interview could help you stand out.
  • Active listening; if you think of any additional questions on the day, perhaps from the small talk or interviewer introduction at the start of the interview. Maybe your interviewer mentioned something you're keen to find out more about.
  • Asking what the salary will be. During the interview may not be the best time to ask this as it may sound like you're interested in the role for the wrong reasons. It's best to try and speak to a recruiter to find out what this might be or you may be able to find this out from the careers web site or other marketing material.

Watch,
listen
and learn

Meet Amit, David and Emma and listen to their recent interviews by clicking on the available options.

We've presented three different versions of their interview. Consider how they did in each of these. You'll see some written feedback after the clip is played and can listen to our detailed feedback by clicking on the links to the right.

Transcripts

Listen to our telephone interviews

Amit

Listen to him talking in a recent interview about how he builds relationships.

David

Listen to his recent interview where he outlines his approach to innovation.

Emma

Listen to her talking about learning from herself and others in a recent interview.

About me

I'm 17 years old and I'm in Year 13 at school in North London.

I'm interested in Finance and want to start an apprenticeship next year. I'm a big tennis fan and play as much as I can for my local club.

Feedback - Amit interview A

Amit spoke at a reasonable pace - not too fast and not too slow.

He provided a detailed and well structured response using the STAR technique and conveyed enthusiasm for the placement by changing his tone of voice.

Feedback - Amit interview B

Amit paused to collect his thoughts at times. Whilst it's good to collect your thoughts, sometimes, too many long pauses will detract from what is actually said so this will lose impact.

Amit needs to provide a structured response - utilising the STAR technique will support with this.

Consider whether his pitch and pace are appropriate.

Feedback - Amit interview C

Amit could have utilised the STAR technique more effectively to provide a thorough answer.

Overall, Amit needs to have more confidence in his response as he's answered the question but just needs to improve on how he delivers this.

About me

I'm 19 years old and a 2nd Year student studying Business Management at Loughborough University.

I love football and I'm a member of the university football team.

Feedback - David interview A

In this interview, David could have used the STAR technique to support his preparation. This would have helped him feel prepared and provide more evidence on what he did.

Feedback - David interview B

David spoke at a good pace and changed his tone of voice to emphasise the key issues he faced.

He used humour to build rapport and answered the question succinctly.

David is confident when providing his response and gives the interviewer enough information to understand the situation and what he did to resolve this.

Feedback - David interview C

David structured his response and clearly used the STAR technique to provide the detail required.

However, the language he used is unprofessional at times and detracted from the content he shared.

David needs to consider his audience and whether this language is appropriate in an interview situation.

About me

I'm 18 years old and I'm from Manchester.

I went on a gap year and taught English in South America.

Feedback - Emma interview A

Emma provided a generic response to the questions and doesn't share any details about what exactly she learnt.

Her answer wasn't tailored to the questions asked so doesn't provide us with sufficient information.

What could Emma have done differently? One thing which would have helped is preparing a range of examples, whereby her skills and experience are matched to the competency. This would have allowed Emma to consider the best example to use on the day and therefore provide a suitably tailored answer.

Feedback - Emma interview B

Emma spoke at a fast pace and didn't pause between her sentences.

This made it difficult to follow what she was saying and as a result, what she said lost impact and, at times, she sounded unprofessional because her words rolled into one.

However, what she said, once you've reflected on this demonstrates some key evidence to consider.

Feedback - Emma interview C

Emma clearly listened to the questions as she demonstrated an understanding of what was being asked.

She shared what she learnt, with the interviewer, in a structured manner and so provided a response which is tailored to the area being assessed.

Meet Simon, Sonia and Jessica and watch their interviews by clicking on the available options. We've presented three different versions of their interview, so while you're watching these, think about how they did in each one.

You'll see some short points of feedback at the end of each interview but for more detailed feedback, watch our analysis films by clicking on the links to the right.

Transcripts

Watch our face-to-face interviews

Simon

Watch his recent interview where he covers customer service.

Sonia

Watch her recent interview where she answers questions on team working.

Jessica

Watch her talking about when she managed a project during a recent interview.

Feedback - Simon interview A

Simon provided a focused and structured answer using the STAR technique which meant he provided a high level of relevant detail.

Simon built rapport with the interviewer by making frequent eye contact.

He spoke at a good pace during his interview.

Feedback - Simon interview B

Consider Simon's body language - did he look nervous? Did it distract you from what he was saying?

Simon provided an unfocused response as a result of repeating himself at times.

Using the STAR technique to structure his response would have helped him to share more relevant and focused information about what he did.

Feedback - Simon interview C

Simon provided a succint response, although at times, he could have provided more detail.

What do you think about how he built rapport with the interviewer?

Simon sat with crossed arms for the first part of the interview, think about what this says to the interviewer.

Feedback - Sonia interview A

Sonia speaks confidently and succintly.

Although Sonia is sharing an example about team working, the interviewer is most interested in what her role in the team was. In this interview she used "we" instead of "I" to describe what happened. She needs to focus on sharing information on what she did when answering the question.

Good body language indicating confidence however doesn't fully answer the question

Consider if she listened to the interviewer carefully

Feedback - Sonia interview B

Sonia lost track of where she was going with her answer as she provided too much detail. Using the STAR technique would have supported her to provide a focused response.

Sonia needed reassurance from the interviewer throughout the interview even though she was on the right track. Better preparation would have helped her feel more confident with responses.

Feedback - Sonia interview C

Sonia provided an overly verbose response as she detailed too much so her response lacked structure.

Using the STAR technique would have helped her structure her response better.

Consider Sonia's body language. Did it distract you from what she was saying?

Feedback - Jessica interview A

Jessica provided a good level of detail however could have used the STAR technique more effectively to make sure she stayed on track with her response.

She built rapport with the interviewer by smiling however she could have been more succint in her response.

Feedback - Jessica interview B

Jessica used the STAR technique well in this interview as she guided the interviewer through her situation and detailed what she did specifically, even though this was a team project.

She indicated that she was actively listening to the questions by nodding and by providing a tailored answer.

Jessica used humour to build rapport with the interviewer and was confident in her delivery.

Feedback - Jessica interview C

Consider Jessica's body language in this interview. Jessica's fidgeting in this interview detracted from what she was saying.

Jessica is less frequent with her eye contact which suggests she wasn't listening. What could she have done differently?

An area Jessica could improve on is changing her pace and tone of voice to re-inforce some of the information she shared.

Thank you.

We hope you found the e-learn useful and wish you all the best in future interviews.