Your compelling resume and well-written cover letter have impressed potential employers and you’ve been given a chance to demonstrate why you’re suitable for the role. But how do you approach the interview?
The interview stage can be nerve-wracking. But with the right amount of preparation, you’ll be able to walk in with confidence and present yourself as a strong candidate.
Here are our top tips to help put you at ease before your graduate job interview:
1. Research the company
This is the most crucial thing to do before stepping into your interview. Many employers will ask you directly what you know about the company, but even if they don’t, it’s essential that you know some basic information about the business.
By researching the company, you’re demonstrating to the employer that you’re interested in what the company does and are enthusiastic about the job. Doing some research also helps give you an idea about whether this is a role you’re genuinely interested in.
There are many ways you can find information about a company. Checking out the “About Us” page on its website, looking at the company’s LinkedIn page, or finding other social media accounts are all good ways to gain insight into a company’s mission and culture.
2. Prepare and practice your answers
When it comes to answering interview questions, practice makes perfect.
Researching and revising some common interview questions online can help you avoid the shock of being asked a question you didn’t prepare for.
Create flashcards of your questions and answers to practice in the weeks before your interview. Make sure your answers include relevant details, but keep them concise. An overly long response can quickly end up being unfocused and leave the interviewer being bored.
3. Plan your journey to the office
Punctuality is crucial when attending graduate job interviews, so always plan your journey ahead.
If you’re using public transport to get to your destination, make sure you know which bus, tube or train you need to take. Also, it’s good to know alternative routes in case of delays or cancellations.
Plan to be at the office at least 20 minutes before your interview in case of unforeseen circumstances. If you do get there early, you can always get a coffee or practice your answers one more time before your interview.
4. Dress appropriately
Dressing for success is the key to making a good first impression at a graduate interview.
Figure out what you’re going to wear a couple of weeks before the interview to avoid having to make any last-minute purchases.
Think about the type of company and role you’re applying for when putting together your outfit. Does it require a high degree of professionalism? Or does the company have more of a start-up culture? If you’re unsure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and wear something more formal than you expect to be necessary.
Making an effort with your outfit and general appearance will show potential employers that you’re taking the position seriously and will help you appear more confident.
5. Show your personality
Interviews are the perfect opportunity for employers to see what you’re really like, so it’s important to let your personality shine through.
Be conscious of your body language and try to sit up straight and maintain eye contact to make yourself appear friendly and attentive.
Employers look for candidates who seem excited to be at the interview, rather than those who are overly rehearsed or appear disinterested. Make polite conversation with the interviewer and ask thoughtful questions to show that you’re genuinely interested in the job.
6. Avoid rambling
Rambling in interviews can be hard to tackle, especially if you’re nervous. However, making sure that you have prepared your answers in advance can help you keep your nerves in check.
Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Response) to structure your responses in a way that clearly conveys your abilities. This will also help stop you from repeating yourself and ensure that you’re giving clear answers.
Additionally, taking a deep breath and slowing down your speech can help you to avoid excessive talking. You’ll appear composed to the interviewer, and you’ll stop yourself from losing your train of thought.
7. Ask the interviewer questions
You’re at the end of the interview and the interviewer asks you “do you have any questions for me?”
The answer should always be yes!
Neglecting to ask the interviewer questions could lead them to believe that you aren’t really interested in the role or the company.
Make a list of 2-5 relevant questions, and make sure you put some thought into it. If you ask for information that’s readily available on the company website or in the job description, they employer might conclude you’re not serious about the job.
Here’s some examples of potential questions you can ask:
- “How would you describe the company culture?”
- “Is there any opportunity for progression within this role?”
- “What does a typical working day/week look like here?”
8. See it as a learning opportunity
Finally, this is a very important tip. Whether you get the job or not, interviews are great learning experiences.
Take note of what you did well, what could be improved, and how you can be better prepared for future interviews.
It’s highly unlikely that your first graduate interview will be perfect – experience is key. The more interviews you do, the better your performance will become.