Tips for Interviews
You should prepare as thoroughly for an internal vacancy as you would if you were applying for a job in another company. Good preparation will help you to minimise interview nerves and give the best possible account of yourself on the day. Here are some suggestions:
Call the person who scheduled your interview and ask questions like:
- Who will be interviewing you?
- Will you meet the manager you'd work for, or will it be someone else?
- What are the interviewer's expectations and what is the format of the interview?
- Do you need to prepare anything to take with you? For example: a presentation
- Can you have an up-to-date job description?
Meet or research the team/division and find out things like:
- The team’s key objectives and major projects
- The structure of the team/department
- What’s happening in that part of the business and in that part of our competitor’s business
- What recent relevant news is there (such as a new product, a key achievement, new legislation etc.)
If you think you need to refresh your knowledge on all things Sainsbury’s, visit and read the information on our corporate website www.j-sainsbury.co.uk and keep an eye on newspapers and press.
Re-read your application form and make sure you can talk confidently about everything on it
The hiring manager will have seen your online application form before the interview and might want to discuss some of the things on it in more detail with you. Therefore, it is a good idea that you re-read your application shortly before your interview so that if you are asked about any of the content you know what the interviewer is referring to and can give them a good amount of additional detail.
Examples of your skills and behaviours
If you know that the interview will be a competency based interview make some notes and think about some examples when you have demonstrated certain skills. If the interview will be behaviourally based then think of examples when you have demonstrated certain behaviours. Thinking about these examples in advance will make them much easier to recall when you are in an interview.
A good way to structure your examples is to use a method called STAR:
- Situation – Describe a recent situation (last 3-5 years) to set the context
- Task - Describe what you were trying to achieve from the situation
- Action - Explain what you did, why you did it and the alternatives
- Results - Highlight the outcome, your achievement and learnings
Make sure you are prepared to talk about what you have learned and how you might approach situations differently moving forward. Try to give different examples, i.e. don’t illustrate your skills by making reference to the same project or situation for multiple questions. Demonstrate the range of things you have done and skills you have!
When answering questions you should think about our colleague values and how you have shown these in past experiences. Our colleague values are:
- Trusting each other, working together
- Making it simpler
- Delivering great service, driving sales
- Making it happen
- Treating every pound as our own
- Cheering on our progress
Note down questions to ask your interviewer like:
- How does the team work together?
- What are the biggest challenges the team face at the moment?
- Why do you like working in…?
- What is most important to you in finding the right person for this role?
- What development opportunities are there?
Ask questions that will help you to assess whether the role and the team forms the right career path for you.
You should make sure you leave yourself enough time to practice your interview with somebody who is able to give you open and honest feedback, this could even be your line manager or another colleague in your team. They should feedback on your responses but you could also prompt them to think about your body language and your tone of voice etc.
Be on time and dress appropriately
- Make sure you are on time. If for any reason you think you might be late, call or email well in advance to explain and apologise. This is polite but will also take the pressure off you so you don’t arrive feeling too stressed!
- Think about what you will wear for the interview and choose something appropriate that will help you feel confident.
During the Interview
- Introduce yourself clearly and be prepared to have a general conversation with the interviewer until you are settled
- An interviewer should set the scene for how the interview will run so that you know what to expect
- Body language is important during interviews so ensure you have good eye contact, are sitting facing the interviewer and are listening intently
- Make sure your personality comes through as interviewers like to see the ‘real you’
- If you don’t understand a question you are asked, do ask the interviewer to repeat the question
- Taking your time to think of a good example to a question is acceptable so don’t worry about this
- Remember STAR and answer your questions with evidence/examples rather than just statements about your experience or ability
- At the end of the interview if the interviewer doesn’t explain what the next steps are, feel free to ask so you understand what will happen next in the process
After the Interview
- If you have the contact details of the interviewer you could email them to say thanks for their time, that it was nice to meet them and that you look forward to hearing the outcome etc.
- If you are unsuccessful it’s important to ask for feedback so you can build this feedback into your next interview
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