Preparing for an interview

If you’ve been invited to interview for a health or social care job in south east London – congratulations! Let's look at how you can prepare to do well on the day.

What's covered?

We will provide you with the key information you need to ace your interviews.

You can either scroll through the entire page or jump to particular sections.

Understanding the role

Advice on what to prepare for to show that you understand the role and what skills are required.

Preparing your answers

Get a good idea of what questions you might be asked at interview and how to answer them.

Online or in-person?

Get top tips for preparing for and having an interview online or in-person.

Presentations

Top tips and advice on creating and giving presentations at interview.

Understand the role

To prove to employers that you are what they're looking for, it's important to demonstrate the right skills and knowledge.

There are two main areas you can prepare to answer questions about: 

The employer and the role, and how the role fits into the wider organisation and its purpose.

It’s really important to find out about the role and organisation before the interview. Every employer wants to see that you understand what they do, and what health or social care - and the particular role you’ve applied for -  involves.

It can help to look at the organisation's website for its vision or mission statement, values and overall strategy. This will help you to understand what's important to the organisation.

If you’ve been given the names of the people who will interview you, it’s a good idea to find out about them and their roles, too.

Your skills and experiences, and how they meet the requirements of the role.

Employers will want to know what skills and experience you can bring to that particular role, so prepare examples or evidence of every relevant skill in the job specification.

For instance, if one of the criteria is having experience of working with patients, you might want to write a few notes with examples of where you have worked with patients in different scenarios.

Be sure to refamiliarise yourself with what you've written on your CV, so you can refer to it in an interview.

Prepare your answers

Here are some common interview questions you might get when applying for health and social care roles. It’s a good idea to prepare some points you’d make in your answers.

Why are you interested in this role / organisation?

This is your chance to talk specifically about why you’re interested in applying. Try to make brief points to back up your claims. For instance, if you’re applying for a physiotherapy role, if you say ‘I’m passionate about physical activity’ you might add a point such as ‘which is why I opted to do GCSE and A-level PE’ or ‘having been an active gym-goer for 10 years’.

What skills and experience can you bring to the role?

Ultimately, all employers want to know the answer to this. Some may ask it in this form, while others may ask a few different questions to find out about specific skills or experience.

Try to cover a few skills that are core to the role, and use evidence from relevant experience. It can be a challenge to balance covering enough information while keeping your answer brief. You may find it best to cover around three to five key skills.

Tell us about a time when…

These types of questions will ask you for an example where you demonstrated a specific requirement from the job advert. For instance, ‘Tell us about a time when you worked with others to achieve a defined goal.’ It helps to prepare some of these in advance so that you have specific examples ready that show you meet the criteria.

How would you manage a situation where…

These types of questions will ask you about hypothetical challenging situations, that are likely to arise in the job. For instance:
→ How would you manage a situation where a patient submits a complaint about you?
→ How would you manage a situation where a patient becomes frustrated and aggressive?
→ How would you manage a situation where a patient needs help, but you and other colleagues are busy?
→ How would you manage a situation where a more senior colleague asks you to cover up their mistake?

They are usually designed to assess your ability to demonstrate professionalism, think clearly and follow procedures. It can help to draw on real examples of situations you've experienced to support your answers.

Be sure to structure your answers – it may help to practise to ensure you keep them succinct.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

The interviewer will be trying to get a sense of whether you see a long-term future in the role and/or would be interested in growing in their organisation.

Do you have any questions for us?

It’s a good idea to ask at least one question to demonstrate your interest in the job. You can ask about things that matter to you, like what your typical day might be like or how the team works together. It's also okay to ask about things you're curious about, like training opportunities or how the organisation supports its staff.

Use the STAR method 

Proving that your skills and experience are relevant to a job can be challenging.

A great way to impress employers is to evidence these with specific, concrete examples, structured using the 'STAR' method.

Use the button below to visit the BBC Bitesize website where you'll find examples which use this method.

S: Situation

What situation were you in, or what issues were you dealing with?

T: Task

What was the task that you needed to do?

A: Action

What actions did you take to complete the task?

R: Results

What were the results of your actions? What skills did you demonstrate and what did you learn? 

Online or in person?

You’ll also need some practical preparation, depending on whether your interview is in person or online.

In-person interviews

If you’re interviewing in person, make sure you’ve made yourself available for the interview period, as well as travel to and from the location.

Plan your route with timings, so you arrive at the location at least ten minutes before the interview. 

Decide what you’re going to wear ahead of the day, and iron any clothes if necessary. Wearing the right outfit can help you feel comfortable and confident. Many organisations will have a smart casual dress code – if that’s the case, you won’t need to dress in a full suit! However, it’s best to check this first.

Online interviews

If your interview is online, make sure you’ve arranged to be somewhere quiet with a laptop or computer and good internet access during the interview period. It’s best to set up at least 10-15 minutes before the interview is due to start, to ensure you’re settled and ready.

Of course, in some situations it won’t always be possible to ensure this. You might be at home trying to look after kids or have a dog who barks whenever there’s a knock at the door! If that’s the case, just explain to the interviewers at the start that this may happen – they should understand, as they’re human too!

Is there a presentation?

Sometimes you'll be asked to do a presentation on a particular topic to the interview panel, to show how you communicate and engage with people, and how you perform under pressure.
You may find out the topic in advance or on the day. Either way, there are things you can do to prepare.

Check instructions

Make sure you follow the instructions given. For example, if it says no visual aids, keep things straightforward. If it specifies length, try timing yourself.

Plan and structure

Plan your content and practise delivering it, so that you know your key points. Try not to rely on your notes, so that it's more fluent and engaging.

Think about how you present

Will you be sitting or standing? If it's in person in a large room, standing gives you more presence. If it's at a table in front of a small panel, sitting is less overbearing. Avoid visual aids, as these can be distracting. It's best to keep things simple!

Body language

Varying your pace and tone of voice, and making eye contact, will keep your audience engaged. Keeping your hands and feet still, and smiling, will make you seem less nervous. Remember – the people watching want you to do well!

Useful resources

Check out the following for more advice on applying and interviewing for health and social care roles.

Application and interview tips

Advice from BBC Bitesize.

Five tips for online interviews

Advice from BBC Bitesize.

Preparing for an interview

Advice from BBC Bitesize.

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