An interview is the most important part in the recruitment process. A CV will open doors, but your ability to impress potential employers with your knowledge, professionalism and skills will win the day.
Creating a good first impression, being confident, and showing a genuine interest and enthusiasm for the role and the company you are interviewing with are all key points that can bring you closer to landing the job.
Grad Central offers solid support to all graduates throughout the job application procedure and has put together some useful tips to help you refine your interview technique.
: The more you know about the company and its business the easier it is to engage in conversation with the interviewer and to ask intelligent questions about the organisation. Learning about your future employer shows a genuine interest in the job you have applied for and demonstrates your commitment to your potential employer. Whilst memorising minute details about the company is not necessary, a general good understanding of the company, the sector it operates in, and perhaps some of the key activities that the business has recently been involved in can really highlight your professionalism.
: Practicing your interview technique is a good way to iron out potential problems before seeing an employer. If necessary prepare for the interview with some friends in a role play or on your own in front of a mirror. Choose a few questions you think are important and try to answer them to a friend. If a presentation is required make sure you practice the delivery and prepare notes. Never try to wing it on a presentation.
: Smart appearances are always appreciated. It demonstrates that you’ve made an effort and shows respect both for the interviewer and the process as a whole. There are definitely industries that are more demanding with their dress code and others that are much more relaxed, but dressing in a business-like manner is always the best and safest option.
: More and more companies are administering various tests as part of the recruitment process. If you are asked to take a psychometric test, don’t think you can cheat the system, be honest with your answers. The tests are designed to identify personality traits and trying to second guess the nature of the questions is rarely beneficial. If an employer requires that you take a practical test they will usually inform you when arranging the interview. Stay calm, try to revise a little before the interview and simply do your best. Many employers are looking for method rather than results.
During the job interview
: Correct manners are always important. Be polite and always wait for your interviewer to finish her/his question. Don’t slouch in your chair, but at the same time don’t be stiff. Body language is a very important part of communication and often tells us more about each other than the words that we use.
: Be precise and be confident. If you don’t know the answer be honest. If you are able to infer an answer by following logical deductions, this can often be more impressive than simply revealing the correct answer. Never try to blag an answer, this will always end up in you being caught out. If you didn’t understand the question do not hesitate to ask for clarification.
: Many employers are now employing Competency Based Interviewing techniques to evaluate candidates’ actual skills, this requires interviewees to talk about examples of experiences to demonstrate specific competencies. With this in mind try to think about as many example situations of where you’ve had to use certain skills and how you might use those skills in a working environment. If you have no previous working experience, use examples from your personal life or your time at university. If possible, try to think of common skills and work out these examples before the interview.
Typical competencies that a potential employer may be looking to evaluate at interview:
- Time management
- Communications skills
- Planning and organisation
- Team working
- Commercial awareness
- Presentation skills
: Don’t be passive. Asking questions that are relevant to the role and the company shows genuine interest about the job and a high level of awareness. It’s always a little flattering for an employer when a candidate asks well informed questions, drawing on research and knowledge of the company. Prepare questions in advance, and invest time in some research into the company, even a quick google news search will give you a few sound bites of latest company developments on which you can base some questions or informed comment on.
After the interview
: Every interview is a learning experience for future interviews throughout your career. Identify the parts of the interview in which you think you could have performed better and try to improve upon them. Repeating this part will boost your confidence for any subsequent interviews.
Additional interview rounds
: Some jobs have a longer process and can involve more than one round of interviews. Now that you have learned more about the role and the company try to use this knowledge to do some further research and prepare yourself for the next round. Try to have a different set of questions for the interviewer at each interview round.
Ask for feedback
: Lastly always try and garner some feedback from your interviewer, this will continue to demonstrate your commitment to the role and show a willingness to take feedback and respond to it.