guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 July 2011 10.00 BST
Be prepared to tackle competency-based interview questions: Most employers are looking for applicants to demonstrate a specific set of skills and competencies which they believe are essential to the job role, for example team work, communication, problem solving and time management. At interview, you are likely to be asked to give specific examples of times when you have demonstrated those competencies. Employers recognise that you might not have lots of directly relevant work experience, so when they ask these questions they will usually be happy for you to provide examples from any aspect of your life, such as your studies, part-time work, volunteering, interests or extra-curricular activities. So, before you go to an interview, check the job description for the skills and competencies required, then reflect on your experiences and think about examples that you could use as evidence.
A good answer will give a specific example, rather than vague generalisations, and will emphasise your role and actions. A tip to help you structure your answer is to use STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result: briefly outline the situation and your task or objective, then provide details of what you actually did - your role and input. Finally, tell them what the result was - did you achieve your goal or deadline ? Be prepared for follow-up questions, which might ask for more details of what you did, or require you to reflect on the way that you approached the task.
Janice Simpson is a senior careers adviser at the University of York
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