Preparing for interviews and assessments

Find out more about interviews, assessment centres, presentations and psychometric tests!

What is an Interview?

An interview is a structured conversation with a purpose and like all good conversations, it is a two way process. You can decide whether the job, recruiter and work environment is right for you, while a recruiter can:

  • Find out more about you, your knowledge, skills and experience
  • Assess whether or not you are suitable for the job
  • See if you will fit into a particular team or department
  • Assess whether you can work effectively for their organisation.

There are several different types of interview that you might have to complete: telephone, video, face-to-face and assessment centre. You can get advice on all of these in the Career Studio.

Hear from our Career Coach Sophie for some tips on video interviews: 

Be Prepared!

Regardless of the type of interview you have, it is really important that you do your research and plan ahead:

  • Prepare answers to common interview questions
  • Think about what questions you want to ask during the interview about the role and the organisation
  • Identify the skills, interests and experiences that the organisation is looking for and how you meet these requirements
  • Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and the wider job sector
  • Find out more about the people who will be interviewing you
  • Book a practice video, telephone, face-to-face or assessment centre interview in the Career Studio before you do it for real
  • Plan your journey - you should aim to arrive ten minutes before your interview is due to start
  • Check if there is a dress code and plan what you are going to wear - first impressions count so make sure you look professional
  • Plan what you need to take with you (such as a portfolio of your work, photo ID, CV, etc).

Take a look at our interview checklist on Handshake or Complete a practice video interview.

Hear from our Career Coach Abbie for some tips on face-to-face interviews: 

During the interview:

  • Be positive and well-mannered with everyone you meet
  • Watch your body language
  • Speak clearly and concisely
  • Remember to use examples of your most relevant, skills and achievements when answering questions and show that you have done your research on the organisation
  • It's okay to pause and to ask an interviewer to repeat or explain their question
  • Let your personality shine through and be enthusiastic.


As part of the interview process, you may be asked to give a short presentation. You will either be given the topic in advance, be asked to select your own or be given a topic on the day.

  • The purpose is not to test your subject knowledge but to see how well you can speak in public. Read our Presentation Checklist on Handshake to find out how to structure your ideas and deliver your presentation with confidence.
  • The key thing to remember is that the more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel when it comes to the real thing.

The good news is that we can help you to practice your presentation skills before an interview or assessment centre. We have online video software that can record you presenting direct to camera. You just need to have internet access and a webcam. Practice your presentation.

Assessment Centres

Mainly run by large recruiters, an assessment centre consists of a number of exercises designed to assess the full range of skills and personal attributes required for a job or graduate scheme. A range of selection techniques will be used to assess what candidates will actually do if selected, not just how good they are at interview. Your performance will be assessed by a number of trained assessors.

  • Most assessment centres take one day.
  • You are not necessarily competing against the other people at your assessment centre.
  • Recruiters often run a number of assessment centres and will select the best candidates across the whole series.

You can find more information about assessment centres on Handshake.

Hear from our Career Coach Abbie for some tips on assessment centres:

Psychometric Tests

Psychometric or selection tests are structured exercises designed to assess whether your grasp of logic, maths and/or English language skills meet the required level. Recruiters also use these tests to assess if your skills and character traits are what they are looking for. Tests are never used in isolation. They are part of a larger assessment process. Don't worry if you don't perform well in a test, other factors such as your interview may be considered along with your test score.

The types of test used in a recruitment process will depend on the job you are applying for. Most tests use one or a combination of:

  • Written information (verbal reasoning)
  • Numbers, charts, graphs, business case studies (numerical reasoning)
  • Abstract figures (diagrammatic or spatial reasoning)
  • Questions about how you do things (personality questionnaire)
  • Situational judgement tests
  • Aptitude tests aimed at testing your ability to perform in specific job roles or workplace situations.

Thanks to our partnership with Graduates First, you can access detailed step-by-step guides to over 100 top graduate employer's recruitment stages plus hints on how to pass the assessment process. You can also practise a variety of psychometric tests and other job assessment preparation solutions. To access the Graduates First tests and tools register using your full university email address e.g.

You can also register with Practice Aptitude Tests, which offers free access to numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, personality tests and situational judgement test materials. Anyone with an email ending can register and access the portal. Register here using your university email address. Already registered? Sign in to your account.

For authentication purposes, please do not use or a personal email address for either of their portals.

Hear from our Career Coach Abbie for some tips on assessment centres:

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