Preparing for an interview
Your CV and/or application form has secured your interview but this will not mean you will get the job. Preparing well for an interview is essential and jobs.expressandstar.com has some key advice on how to do so:
- Confirm the date, time and how long it is likely to last.
- Where is the interview being held? Find directions or public transport times if needed. If you are driving, is there parking available on site?
- What will the format of the day be? It could range from a one-on-one to a panel style interview.
- Who will you be meeting during the interview? It could be people from HR or the graduate recruitment team, nominated assessors from within the business, your future hiring manager, or a combination of these.
- Will you be required to take any tests or participate in group sessions on the day?
- Take a copy of your CV and supporting documentation with you.
- Take a pad and pen with you to take notes and to remind you of the pre-prepared questions you will ask.
- Research the company, industry and, if possible, your interviewers. Your future employers will want you to demonstrate that you are serious about working for their company and you will come across better with this information at hand. Google, the company's website and LinkedIn are all good resources to use; maybe other friends have been interviewed there recently or are indeed working for that business and can help you with your application.
- As well as key industry issues, make sure that you are up-to-date with current affairs and are able to give your opinion on what’s happening in the headlines. Reading a newspaper/news app on the day of your interview is an easy way to cover this point.
- Prepare your answers with work related and positive responses. Demonstrate where you have performed similar tasks in the past and this will convince your future employers that you can do the same for them.
- Practice your interview with your family, friends, university careers officer, lecturers or anyone who will listen to you! This will help you to gain confidence and tailor your technique.
- Dress appropriately, get a good night sleep the evening before and enjoy a good meal before your interview.
- Enjoy it. You have already made a good impression on your potential employer hence why you have been invited for an interview. If you are not successful you would have gained a lot of experience which you can take with you to your next interview.
During the interview
Start positively. It is argued that people build their first impressions within the first 15 seconds. A smile, a confident handshake and good eye contact goes a long way.
Use examples to prove you are capable of doing the job and that your skills will contribute to the success of the business. Use the STAR (Situation Task Action Result) technique when answering questions as it will help you structure your answer and include the things that the interviewers are looking for.
People buy people: build a strong rapport with your potential employer because whether it is a conscious element or not, them simply liking you will form part of the decision making process.
Listen, listen, listen. Employers do not like to be interrupted or have to repeat themselves. In addition, misdirected answers will not sell yourself in the best way. Taking notes is a great way to help your brain process the information and remember any relevant questions to ask at the end.
Ask Questions. Your interviewer will probably answer over 90% of the questions you have but make sure you cover 100% of what is important to you. Remember, you may be working there one day so make sure you have all the information you need to empower you to make a decision. In addition, asking questions demonstrates your interest in the company and employers will look for this.
Closing and post interview
Close the interview in the same way a sales person might try and close a sale; after all you are selling yourself.
Ask questions like:
- Do you see any reason why you wouldn't move forward with me?
- When should I expect to hear from you?
- Are you seeing / have you seen other candidates?
- How did you think the interview went?
If you ask these questions then you are demonstrating your interest in the role which employers will like. In addition, this gives the employer a chance to raise any concerns they might have about you and, in turn, gives you a chance to respond. Leave your interviewer with a list of 'ticks' and 'crosses' about you rather than question marks.
Finally, remember to end the interview on a positive note by thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the role.