Tips for Applicants - Interview Techniques

A quick guide to interview techniques and some handy interview tips.


It is important that you think about how you might answer certain types of question:

  • How will you provide evidence of the qualities listed in the Person Specification?
  • If you were asked about being a team player – what evidence would you use to show us this?

Using your application to prepare

It is important to remind yourself of the messages you have conveyed through your application form and be prepared to discuss anything you have included in more detail. Read through your application and imagine what the interview panel are expecting/are looking for.

What questions would you ask in their position? Make sure you can give at least one positive example (preferably more) for each of the skills and attributes that we are looking for in the Person Specification. You might also ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to work for the College?
  • Why should the College employ me?
  • What have I done well or achieved?
  • What have I gained from my qualifications?
  • What skills have I gained from my work related and extracurricular activities?

As we are required to follow the Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges “Keeping Children Safe in Education” (April 2014) if there are any gaps in your employment you will be asked to give us details of this before you can be appointed to any position within the College.

Knowledge about the Job itself

It is important that you know as much as possible about the job you are applying for – ask yourself:

  • What are the key areas of responsibility of the role?
  • How can I demonstrate previous experience?
  • What skills will I need and how will I be able to provide evidence of them?
  • What examples can I give from work, academic study or outside interests to show I have the skills that the College is looking for?

Knowledge about the College

This will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for working at the College and will help you to prepare some questions to ask the interview panel. We will expect you to display some understanding of our business, our size and the sector. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do I know about East Durham College?
  • What attracts me to this role and the College?
  • What kind of training or additional skills would I like to gain?

Feeling Nervous?

It’s absolutely normal to feel nervous before an interview. At the College our interview panel members are all trained and are aware that applicants can be nervous. Above all try to stay positive and remember this is an opportunity for you to promote yourself and your experience. If you tend to get anxious, you may want investigate ways to relax before your interview.

  • Try visualisation exercises as part of your preparation. Relax and visualise yourself being enthusiastic and successful at the interview. Preparing yourself for success can make success a more likely option.
  • Avoid stimulants such as tea and coffee immediately before an interview, try to drink plenty of water. We would normally have water available for candidates during the interview process.
  • Think positively by focusing on your strengths and achievements.
  • If you have prepared in advance this is likely to make your ability to respond to questions easier.

We do allow candidates to bring notes in with them to the interview which may help them prepare and feel less nervous. All is not lost if you are very nervous at the outset, but try to create the best impression you can – a warm smile and a firm handshake will help.

Other tips

  • Be prepared to provide a detailed response – try to avoid yes/no answers and expand on them as often as possible. Don’t however, over communicate – it can be tempting to talk too much. Take your cue from the interview panel and, if you are not sure that they have heard enough as them if they would like you to continue or provide further examples.
  • Actively listen to what is being asked and ask for clarification if you need it. This not only helps you to answer the question asked, but also demonstrated confidence and control.
  • If you need a moments thinking time – take it. This will provide you an opportunity to think about your answer.
  • Use examples from several different experiences rather than concentrating on just one aspect of your life.
  • Be positive. Try to use positive examples to support your experience. For example – instead of “yes I worked as part of a team but that was only in a bar on the weekend” a more positive summary would be “I worked in a busy bar on weekends with three other staff and we needed to work well as a team in order to keep the queues down, provide good customer service and keep our motivation up”.
  • Be yourself – if you adopt a new persona for the interview, the result is likely to be insincere and transparent. Even if you are offered the job, you may find later that it’s not right for the real you.
  • Remember that honesty is the best policy. If it is discovered that you have been dishonest you could be dismissed. Admitting to a period of poor motivation during you’re A Level shows more integrity than blaming someone else for your grades. Don’t feel that you should cover up incidents like this, rather present them as a positive learning experience.

Positive Endings

This is the chance to ask those questions you have prepared earlier. If the opportunity is not offered then assert yourself politely and say that you have some questions that you’d like to ask if there is an appropriate time to do so. It is important to close the interview and if it feels right to you thank the interview panel and reiterate your enthusiasm for the job for which you have applied. Always try to end the interview on a positive note.

Getting In Touch

Thank you for your interest in applying to work here at East Durham College. 

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If you’ve any questions about a role that is advertised, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on or 0191 518 5525.