City Hall

Advice for applicants: interviews

The interview panel

The purpose of an interview is to identify the best candidate for the job. A panel of two or three people will interview you. The invite to interview letter will inform you of the names and roles of the interview panel. The length of the interview will depend on the level and type of post but, on average, it will last for about 45 minutes.

At the start of the interview the chair of the panel will explain the interview structure to you. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification. At the end of the interview you will be given some time to ask questions. Think about any questions you wish to ask in advance. You don’t have to ask questions if you don’t have any.

Preparing for an interview

Prepare for an interview by thinking of any previous experience of interviews. Try to recall what worked well in these interviews and what lessons you learned from these experiences. Read through the person specification again. This document describes the technical requirements, experience, qualifications and competencies needed to carry out the job.

For most of the interview, panel members will ask you competency based questions in relation to the person specification. Think about what questions you may be asked. A friend or colleague may be able to help you to do this. Prepare answers for the questions you have identified. Write out the information needed for each answer. If there are gaps in your knowledge try to find out further information.

Practice saying your answers out loud. Even if you know the theory, you will have to be able to convince the panel on the day. Ask a friend to put the questions to you, and then to give you feedback on your answers. Remember on the day to answer the questions you are asked. 

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Attending the interview

Plan your time ahead to ensure you arrive before your scheduled interview time. Your interview invite letter will make clear where to go on the day. Most interviews are held at City Hall and require visitors to go through security checks

Remember that the panel is trying to find out as much about you as possible. They are not trying to catch you out. All candidates are nervous in interviews, and panels make allowances for that. Some people may talk too much, and other may talk too quickly. If you identify how you react when nervous, then you will be able to address it on the day.

The panel members will take it in turns to ask you questions. Listen carefully to them. If necessary, pause for a few seconds to make sure that you understand exactly what they are asking you before you start to answer. Resist the temptation to launch into a prepared answer which may not answer the question.

The best interview responses are when the candidate tells the panel about a specific experience or piece of work that they completed in a past job or situation. Sharing a specific example of your past experience helps the panel to understand more clearly what experience you have and how you approach your work.

Take a pen and paper, and bring some notes with you if you want to. The panel will not mind if you want to write down part of the question or refer briefly to your notes. You should however avoid reading them aloud or searching through piles of papers, as this could distract you from communicating effectively with the panel.

Take every opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself. Do not assume that the panel members know everything about you or your work, even if you have written about it on your application form. 

Do not worry if you get stuck at any point in the interview and can't think what to say. Ask if you can leave the question for the moment, and come back to it later in the interview.

The interview should be a two-way process and you should take the opportunity to confirm that this is the right job and organisation for you.

Other selection methods

As well as interviews we use additional methods to help choose the best candidate for a job. Common selection methods include work-related tests to examine your computer, organisational, team working, writing or numerical skills. For senior jobs, you may be tested on your analytical or presentation skills. If other methods are to be used you will be notified in advance.

If you are asked to take a test, ensure that you fully understand the instructions and ask questions if you are unclear about what is being asked of you.

Following the interview

If you are not offered the post, then you can contact the GLA’s Recruitment Team and ask for feedback. A member of the interview panel will give you information on your interview performance and possible pointers for future interviews.

The GLA is a popular choice for applicants, and competition for jobs can be strong. If you are not successful first time round, please do consider trying again.