There’s some great help and advice on our website to help you with preparing for, and attending, job interviews. It includes thinking about how you’ll answer interview questions using the CAR or STAR technique. Use whichever you find easier to remember, to help structure your reply.
Answering the question
CAR stands for Context, Action, Result. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Questions starting “Tell me about a time when…” can be tackled effectively by using CAR or STAR – talking about the situation you faced and what was required of you, what you did, and the outcome or result, and what you learned. Note that the result does not always need to be perfect! If it didn’t go quite right, you might still have learned something really useful to apply in a future situation.
10 reasons why interviews go wrong (according to employers)
1. Candidate doesn’t give sufficient evidence of what they’ve achieved.
Prepare some concrete examples of what you’ve done.
2. Poor level of knowledge from a candidate, who has gone for a job in a specialist field.
Are you sure you’re right for the job? If so, gen-up!
3. Ill-defined aims or lack of career planning.
You don’t necessarily need to have your future mapped out point by point, but you should be able to express your initial goals.
4. Unable to express thoughts clearly.
Prep and practise!
5. Candidate doesn’t ask any questions about the job.
The company website might be very comprehensive, but there’s bound to be something it hasn’t told you.
6. Poor personal appearance.
Haircut, clean fingernails, clean interview wear (even if it’s all online!) and don’t slouch!
7. Candidate doesn’t show any real interest or enthusiasm for the job.
Employers want to feel you’re committed to the role. If you’re interested, you’ll do a better job..
8. Evasive about unsatisfactory performance.
Be honest and show you’ve learned from any instances from your own experience
9. General lack of confidence.
Tough one to address, particularly if you’re nervous. However, if you’ve been invited to interview, you must have shown something to interest the employer, so take heart from that! Practise answering questions, using Shortlist.Me from the webpage above. If you’re well prepared that will boost your confidence too.
10. Overbearing, arrogant and conceited.
No one wants that sort of character working in their company. If you’ve achieved lots – great, but you can be modest about it too!
Remember to read through the job details and information you have on the organisation to refresh your memory before the interview – and don’t forget to smile!
A version of this blog was originally published in July 2020. The content has been updated (August 2021).