How to prepare for an interview without a job description

The Job Studio - Birmingham Careers Advice and Coaching
By Sarah Blunt
woman sat in front of laptop preparing for an interview without a job description

Preparing for an interview can be a daunting task, and it becomes even more challenging when you find yourself without a job description to guide you. You might encounter this situation because you were headhunted for a role and no job description was provided, or you simply lost your original copy. While a job description provides a roadmap for the sort of questions you might get asked, preparing without one will require a bit of extra research. In this blog post, we will explore the best techniques for how to prepare for an interview without a job description.

Contact the Human Resources department

The first thing on your to-do list should be to contact the HR department of the organisation you’re interviewing with and ask if they can share a copy of the job description with you. Explain that you have been invited to attend an interview and would like a copy of the job description to help you prepare. When sending your request, provide as much information as you can, such as the interview date, the department the role is in and the job advert reference if you have it.

Search for the job description online

This one is a long-shot, but it’s worth a try. There’s a chance a copy of the job description is available somewhere online, you just have to find it. To see if you can locate a copy, search for the role name and employer followed by ‘job description’. You could even put ‘PDF’ at the end of the search, as many job descriptions are uploaded online in PDF format.

Research similar roles in other organisations

If the suggestions above don’t work, spend time researching similar roles in other organisations. These jobs need to be in organisations that are similar to the one you're interviewing for, for example, a similar size and within a similar sector. To do this, use sector-specific job posting websites, or LinkedIn. Once you’ve found a similar role, you can analyse the job description, and see what the requirements are. This will give you a clue about what skills and qualifications are needed to work in that kind of position, and in turn, the interview questions that might get asked.

Research the organisation

Although your interview panel will be most interested in assessing your suitability for the role, they will probably want to know why you want to work for them, and what you already know about their organisation. Research their mission, values, culture, and recent news or developments. This knowledge will not only help you form intelligent questions during the interview but also demonstrate your genuine interest in the organisation.

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Talk with current or former employees

If possible, connect with current or former employees of the organisation through professional networking sites, like LinkedIn. They can often provide great insights into the organisation’s work culture, environment, expectations, and may even give you a better understanding of what the job might entail.

Identify your transferable skills

When you lack a detailed job description, it's essential to identify your own skills and experiences that are transferable to a wide range of roles. Think about your strengths, such as leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, or adaptability. These universal skills can be applied to various positions and may help you shine in the interview.

Prepare for common interview questions

When you prepare for an interview without a job description, you can often feel on the back-foot, but there a few common questions which are bound to come up . General questions like "Tell me about yourself," "Why do you want to work here?”  and "What skills and experience do you have which is relevant for the role?” are typically asked in job interviews. Prepare to answer these questions and practice your responses to appear confident and well-prepared.

Preparing for an interview without a job description may seem challenging, but by conducting thorough research on the organisation and comparable roles, you can approach the interview with confidence and increase your chances of success.