Prepare to be an interview STAR(R)!

11 March alum session

Preparation, preparation, preparation….

The need to prepare thoroughly for interviews was one of the hints and tips which came out of our latest mock interview workshop held on March 6th. Olamide Bada (SOAS LLB 2011) now a Corporate Associate at Baker and McKenzie LLP was part of our interview panel and gave valuable feedback to students on how to develop their interview technique.


This week’s mock interview candidates were applying for jobs in law, journalism and the charity sector. It was clear; however, that researching the organisation and being able to talk fully about why you wanted to work for them was a key element of any interview.  What has your target employer achieved recently?  Who are their competitors?  Who are their clients?  What challenges may the organisation be facing?  All of these questions can be starting points for research which, when used in an interview, can show that you have gone that extra mile as a candidate.


Don’t forget to think about how to structure your answers effectively.  The recruiter needs to be able to understand the context, what you did and what the outcome was.  Try using STARR to present examples of what you have achieved when asked to describe a time when you have worked in a team, solved a difficult problem, initiated a change or used a variety of other skills.

Situation: Describe the context in which your example takes place.

Task: What did you do?

Action: How did you do it? What action did you take?  This is often the part of the answer that candidates miss out.  Don’t just say that you ‘negotiated’ or ‘persuaded’.  What did this involve?

Result: What did you achieve? Try to be as specific as possible.

Reflect: What did you learn from this experience?

And there’s more

Imagine the scenario, you have just given a good answer, well structured and full of evidence but the interviewer wants more! Be prepared for follow up questions to explore, in more depth, the examples which you have given; what would you differently next time?  What would you do if….

Practice makes perfect  (or at least very good!)

When was the last time outside of an interview that anyone wanted to know what you greatest achievement was or when you worked effectively in a team? We rarely need to answer these questions in our day to day lives so getting some interview practice before the real thing can be very helpful indeed. Olamide suggested that recording yourself answering some common interview questions will help you improve your technique. Are your answers structured, do you use umm or aahh too much or do you speak too quickly? You could ask a friend to play the part of the interviewer and the Careers Service has a great handout on ‘Challenging interview questions’ which you could use.

If you want more practice

  • Forthcoming Alumni Mock Interview sessions will be advertised on our events page and our newsletters.
  • Use Interview Simulator to practise your interview technique against the clock. You can record your answers and then compare your responses against video advice from employers. Please contact us for more information.
  • If you have an interview coming up then you can book a practice interview with a Careers Consultant. Contact us for details.

As one of our mock interview candidates said at the end of the session

‘The whole mock interview process really gave me an insight into what to expect from a real interview….I’m much more confident now’