How to prepare for your higher education interview

4 minutes
Samantha Johnston

By Samantha Johnston

Questions will likely include a mixture of standard HR-based questions, knowledge-based questions, and competency-based questions.

HR-based Questions

It is important to come prepared for these questions. You want to demonstrate your interest in working at the university, so think about what makes you passionate about working in education and what appeals to you about that role. Do your research on the university, including the courses they offer, their achievements and accolades, and the number of students studying there. Review their website, social media, QAA, and OFS reports.

Example questions can include:

  • What are your career aspirations?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What interests you about this role?
  • Of your previous jobs, which did you enjoy most and why?
  • Describe what you have done in your career that shows your initiative.
  • What are your weaknesses? Your strengths?
  • What style of management gets the best results from you?
  • What have been your key achievements to date?
Knowledge-based Questions

Know your CV inside and out and provide relevant evidenced-based examples where possible. Knowledge-based questions assess your experience and your knowledge of more technical areas. If there are any points on the job description you don't have experience in, do your research to showcase a basic level of understanding and willingness to learn.

Example questions can include:

  • Can you talk me through your experience of using student record management systems?
  • What virtual learning environments have you worked on previously?
  • What is your understanding of recent policy changes, and how does this affect the higher education landscape?
Competency-based Questions

University interviews nearly always use competency-based questions. The best way to prepare for these interviews is to go through each point on the person specification and think of some clear concise examples of where you have demonstrated these before. Use the STAR technique to write down your examples so they are fresh in your mind for the interview. For more information on how to answer competency-based questions, read our blog here.

Example questions include:

  • Leadership
    • What type of leadership style do you adopt?
    • What was a challenging project you have managed, and how did you handle it?
  • Time Management
    • How do you prioritize your day?
    • How do you react if your boss asks you to do something that conflicts with your own deadlines?
  • Teamwork
    • Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team.
    • When you joined your last organization, how did you get along with your co-workers?
  • Problem Solving
    • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
    • Describe a situation in which you found a creative way to overcome an obstacle.
  • Decision Making
    • What is the toughest decision you have had to make while at your present organization?
    • Tell me about it - what alternatives did you consider?
  • Customer Service
    • What does excellent student service look like to you?
    • Describe a time you dealt with a difficult customer and what was the outcome?
Questions You Can Ask

Remember, interviewing is a two-way process and it is an opportunity for you to ask questions and find out more about the university and the role.

Here are examples of questions you might ask:

  • What would a normal day in this role look like?
  • What do you envisage as being the key challenges in this role?
  • What opportunities for growth and development are there?
  • What induction and training programs does the University offer?
  • How is the organization positioned against its competitors?
  • What is your vision for the future? What are the plans, if any, for growth or expansion?
  • What are the three things that would make someone an outstanding success in this role?

If you are looking for a new role in the Higher Education sector or would like advice on applications or interviewing, please get in touch with your CV at

  • 020 7198 6000
  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF