Employer advice: The art of the interview

Got your first job interview? Marie Brennan, of BAE Systems Naval Ships, has some helpful advice

5 mins

Your first job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. As an Early Careers Advisor for BAE Systems Naval Ships, Marie Brennan has helped to recruit hundreds of young people. 

She gave us some top tips for interviews, to help you impress employers.

It's all about attitude

'When you're applying for an entry level position the interviewer will generally be looking at your employability level. That is, your personal attributes and your skills.  

'Employers are not expecting you to know everything at the outset. But, if they see you as someone with a positive attitude they will be more willing to give you a chance as you will be open to learning.'

First impressions matter

'Switch your phone off, or on silent. You don’t want it distracting you or the interviewer. 

'Dress smart, don’t slouch, your body language should show you are keen and interested in the process and wanting to present a positive image of yourself.

'Good personal presentation shows you take pride in yourself, and to employers this is a general indicator you will also take pride in your work.'

How to prepare 

'Before the interview think of some examples from your everyday life to show what type of skills you can bring to the workplace. Just saying you have a skill is not enough, so prepare examples beforehand.

'Remember you will have a lot of experience from school and your hobbies you can draw from.  For example, being an active member of a club can show you have commitment.  Also, if you have a part time job, this shows work ethic, time management and a level of responsibility showcasing your skills, for example:

  • Team working – could be from a sport, social or school activity
  • Timekeeping and personal organisation – that netball, football or badminton team you make time for every week or another activity from school
  • Good work ethic – perhaps you have a part time job, or look after sibling or relative 

'Good preparation is your key to success so make sure you make time for it.'

Shaping your answers

'When you're preparing for an interview, the STAR model can be really useful. It helps to shape your answer and ensures you stay on track and answer the question.

'If you're asked a question you are not sure of don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, this actually shows confidence and good listening skills and shows the interviewer you're thoughtful and you're not afraid to interact with other people.

'The questions are simply your opportunity to showcase all those skills you have, so don’t fear them.'

And finally...

'If you have prepared then you can go into the interview with confidence. You may still be nervous and that’s ok. It's to be expected and the interviewer will try to put you at ease to allow you to have a good experience.

'Good luck!'