Having got this far, you really do need to work hard to make a good first impression, so preparation is essential. If you’re applying for an apprenticeship, you will be interviewed for an actual job and supported through a training programme , so take the time to prepare carefully.

People find interviews stressful, you have got to revise well but there’s no need to worry about it, if you follow these simple steps and prepare, prepare, prepare. Sometimes employers will offer interviews virtually using a platform like Zoom, or Microsoft Teams. They’re a bit different, but the basics are the same. We have added in some extra tips for virtual interviews later.

If you’ve been invited for interview, that’s great – make sure you confirm that you will be attending.

Do some research

The employer: Spend some time finding out about the employer. What do they do? There are lots of roles in health and care, only some of which are delivered in hospitals.

Devote some time to find out about the employer and the services they offer. Read the website and look at the organisations services and especially their values – consider or write down how they relate to you.

If you know someone that already works there have a good chat with them. If there is a contact person listed on the advert, give them a ring or an email introducing yourself and asking about the role. This gives you opportunity to make contact and ask questions to see if the role is what you think. If you have specific questions, this is a good time to ask for an informal chat before interview. You may gain extra insight into the role and the manager will be happy to discuss with you.

Go back to the original advert, person specification and job description, and your application. It is a good idea to print them out if you can, that way you can refer to them later. If you find something really helpful in your research print this too. You can always take these notes to the interview with you and discuss – this shows you have researched carefully and understand how you can contribute to the role.

Make sure you make a note of the interview date and time either on a calendar or in your phone – you don’t want to forget!

The location: Where are you going for the interview? This is really important as some buildings  like hospitals are large sites and it can take a while to walk from the entrance to your building. Download a site map onto your phone, and work out how you will get there on the day, so that you don’t have to worry about getting lost. It is a good idea to visit the location ahead of your interview, to time how long it’ll take you to get there, where to park, is there a charge, is the bus stop close by etc.

Consider interview questions. It can be difficult to predict what you will be asked but often employing managers want to know what attracted you to this job. Try and search around about the role and what it involves, you will be able to mention this or ask a question about it at interview, so take your time, do some reading and make notes if you need to.

Go back to the advert and person specification. Read them again, and think about how you might give examples of how you have met something like team-working. Your example can be school, college, work or voluntary role related, just run it through in your head a few times and make a note of it.

Also think about your own experience caring for a relative or child at home, or being a good listener for your friends. You can use these personal situations too.  Repeat for all of the criteria. At the end you should have a few examples of yourself that you can share at the interview and adapt according to the question. Also make some notes on what you think the job role is about, interviewers want to know that you understand a little of what you’ve applied to do, and this is reasonably easy to revise. The less you have to improvise, the better, so practise potential questions and likely answers on your own or with a parent or teacher.

Interviewers are likely to ask you to explain a little about yourself. This can feel quite strange, but it’s really an introduction to you as a person. They want you to relax and talk, so speaking about yourself should get you going. It’s okay to mention sports, hobbies, pets, interests etc. Practice this response as well.

You should also prepare questions that you want to ask about the role, the employer, benefits and future progression. An employer will want to hear these, to show just how keen you are on getting the job.

Make your notes tidy on a couple of pieces of paper and add some questions. It is okay to take these into your interview, so that you can refer to them to jog your memory.

The interview: Interviews can be more complicated than they first appear, depending on the employer. Some still do them one on one, on a single day, and then make their decision. Others prefer two interviews; the first to whittle down applicants from a long list, the second to make their final decision. Some employers even meet their applicants all at once, to see how you would react in a group setting, and then ask some to stay for an individual interview. Find out what the format of the interview will be when the employer first gets in touch. Knowing ahead of time will make it easier for you to prepare.

Planning ahead for your interview

The day before: Re-read your application and your sample answers.

Gather the documents they asked you to bring – certificates, passport etc.

Choose your clothes: It’s always best to wear something smart.  ‘Smart’ is open to interpretation, but generally something formal, a shirt or blouse and trousers/ skirt, and always wear what makes you most feel comfortable.

If your wardrobe doesn’t have anything suitable, ask a friend or family member if you can borrow something. Try on your chosen outfit and make sure you feel comfy. Remember to clean your shoes and find a suitable coat to borrow if needs be. Find a smart bag to put your items in.

For those that have been out of work a while there are a couple of charities able to help with finding suitable interview clothes locally.

  • The Suit Works is a free service to help unemployed men and women of all ages to succeed at interview by helping them with suitable interview clothes and personal styling advice. They are based in Sheffield but will see clients who can travel to their office from further afield. Your employment advisor or support worker can make a referral for you. 
  • Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need. They harness the power of clothes and confidence to allow a woman to be her best at a crucial moment in her life, giving her the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools required to succeed at interview and transform her life. They are based in Leeds. Your employment advisor or support worker can make a referral for you. 


The interview

The interview – doing it in person

Be punctual: Don’t be late. This should be obvious, but it’s easy to be delayed or get lost. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the interview, both to be punctual and to avoid having to rush. Arriving frazzled after a rush from the train or bus station is not the best way to arrive at an interview. Get there early if you can, but find somewhere to go before heading to the interview, as arriving too early is also difficult. Employers need to know that you can keep to schedule, so go and get a coffee if you’re too early.

Body language and eye contact: You’re going to be nervous. Accept this and move on. Smile at everyone present when you arrive, and keep it natural (no hand-shaking at the moment)! No-one maintains eye contact all of the time, so just meet their gaze when they’re speaking, and when you are. Try not to fidget but keep your hands clear of your pockets.

Again, be natural and yourself. If it helps, ask for a glass of water. If you lose your train of thought, or don’t understand the question, breathe and ask them to repeat or re-phrase it. The interviewer won’t mind. They are trying to get the best person for their job, and they want you to show the best of yourself at interview.

Questions: You will be given time at the end to ask your questions. Don’t forget this. There will be things you absolutely need to know, such as what the salary is, as well as particulars of your own that you’re curious about. Does the employer offer a pension? Do they do social activities? These are all good questions and the interview is your opportunity to ask them.

Find out when you can expect to hear back. This will give you a time frame to work to.

The interview – doing it virtually online

In the case of a virtual interview, your invitation will be sent to your email address and will contain all the instructions. If you don’t have a laptop at home, see if you can book one at your local library or at school or college if you are a student. Ask a friend or a career teacher to help. It will be easier than using your phone.

Remember to still look smart and work ready, interviewers will expect you to look the part.

You might need to check your email on the morning of your interview for your login invitation. With Zoom or Teams, you can just click the link (no need to download the app). If you’re using your phone or laptop, make sure you have somewhere quiet to sit (even if it’s your bedroom). Check that behind you looks totally appropriate and professional (if you only have posters, be ready to add a background or blur your screen). If you can, try this out before the interview so you know how to do it. If you live with other people make sure they know you’re having an interview so they don’t interrupt you.

Go into your link five minutes before your interview start time, (you’ll be in a waiting area) and check background again, see how you look, and relax and wait for them to open the meeting. Do a quick check to make sure you’re camera and microphone are on. Don’t worry if they’re late, just wait for them. When they arrive in your interview, you should be able to see all the interviewers in the panel on your screen and there may be a time lag so don’t rush.