How to shine at a short notice interview

We’ve noticed an increasing number of students and graduates have been getting in touch with the Careers Service about how best to prepare for a short notice interview. Nicola Meikle, Careers Information Adviser, shares her tips to help you shine and keep your preparation on track when your time is limited.

The interview process has generally moved online due to Covid-19 restrictions with interviews being set up within a shorter timescale compared to that of face-to-face interviews.

So… where should you start?

Regardless of the interview format, take a few minutes to get your thoughts together and read over your application and job description. Highlight the skills and experience the employer is looking for and be prepared to demonstrate these at interview. You may also be asked to expand on what you’ve said in your application.

There are certain types of questions that are commonly used such as competency questions. These require you to provide evidence of a particular skill you have and where you developed it. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format to structure your responses and answer concisely. Explore our advice on this approach and other interview formats.

Research the employer

Although you may not have time to do extensive research, you can still glean valuable insights by:

  • Reading the ‘about us’ section and mission statement on their website.
  • Scanning their social media accounts for current news, upcoming events or recent achievements. Social media can also showcase company culture.

When researching, a good tip is to take screenshots if you don’t have time to make notes.

After doing some research, you will feel more informed to answer the question, “Why do you want to work for us?” Your response can include how their values resonate with you or you can perhaps make reference to a recent campaign which was of particular interest to you.

Hone your interview performance

How? By using our excellent resource, Interview360:

  • Browse commonly asked interview questions which provide key points to help you answer. These range from opening questions such as “Tell me about yourself” through to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • Take part in a mock interview and receive instant feedback.
  • Consider your non-verbal communication; remember to sit up straight, smile and make eye contact! Record and play back how you appear on camera to spot areas for improvement.

Questions to ask the interviewer

Depending on the interview format, you may get the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. Don’t pass up the chance to show your enthusiasm for the role by not asking any questions. This great article from Careers Service Plus provides examples of “10 questions to ask at interview”. Try to have three to four questions in mind just in case one or two of them have already been answered during the interview.

Careers Service Support

Depending on the date of your interview, a practice interview with a Careers Consultant may not be available. Don’t panic, we can still help:

  • Book a 30-minute “Discuss my career” online appointment if a slot is available in your timeframe, to focus on anything that might be concerning you, or to get general interview tips.
  • Attend our online Information and Advice drop-in session, Monday-Friday, 1-3pm. We’re happy to help with any queries you may have. There’s no need to book an appointment – join via this MyCareerHub link.

Parting advice…

An invitation to attend an interview is an achievement in itself and employers are not expecting perfection. By making the most of the time you have to prepare, you are demonstrating to an employer that you are flexible and can work well under pressure.

It’s normal to have some pre-interview nerves. Don’t worry! This handy article from Careers Service Plus provides tips to calm your nerves and approach the interview with confidence. So relax, be yourself and let your preparation shine through.

Good luck.


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