Interview tips for graduates

January 12, 2018 / Keith Osborne
Interview tips for graduates

Even with a great degree to your name, the search for the job and career path you really want can still be tough, with lots of competition for the very best roles out there.

Here, we take you through some of the best preparation and interview techniques to apply in order to maximise your chances of ‘sealing the deal’ and getting that job.

Talk about the company

There’s a high chance that an early question will be along the lines of “What do you know about us?”, so it’s worth doing some research before your interview to demonstrate your interest in your potential future employer. Take in a little of their history and an overview of their current projects. Tell them what aspects of what they have achieved and are currently doing appeals to you and where appropriate, how the strengths you have fit in with their ethos.

Their own website is a good first stop, but try to find them in news stories and industry organisations, too, and get a broad sense of what they do and how they do it.

Talk about the job

If you don’t already have a good idea about the role itself and what it entails, try to find out more about day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Go into the interview with a good idea about how it fits in with your own career ambitions and also what the company may offer in career progression, eg related projects and roles as well as further training and qualifications. While you may be familiar with the duties, this might be an opportunity to get the interviewer to talk about a typical day and how particular tasks are organised at this company.

Talk about your experiences

You’re bound to be asked to “Tell us something about yourself”, so it’s worth thinking beforehand how you’d go about it. Try to keep it focused on your academic and work experience and achievements. Make sure what you say fits in with what you’ve put on your CV! Remember the details about dates and duties for relevant work placements. This is also a good opportunity to talk about what you’re looking for in a job and how this company is the best one to help you achieve that.

Talk about your abilities

If you’ve already gained good experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s important to communicate your competency. This doesn’t have to be 100% focused on industry work experience – you might have occasions when part-time jobs or leisure activities gave you a chance to shine. Think of some examples of the ways you approached your duties and resolved any problems you faced so that you can clearly demonstrate that you understood what was needed and had the abilities to achieve it. If you have more than those you may have written about in your job application, even better.

You may also be given a work-related scenario and asked how you would react in that situation, in order to show you have the abilities and attitude that the company is looking for, for example, calmness, adaptability, confidence and application, to name just a few. You’ll be very fortunate to have experienced the exact circumstances described to you, but you could try to apply it to other situations you’ve been through where you’ve shown the values they are looking for.

Talk about your potential

You may be asked about what you think you could bring to the role. Answering well shouldn’t involve being arrogant, but there’s no advantage to being too modest either. The best solution here for a response is to combine your ability to do the job with personal qualities that will help you achieve this. So your answer might include technical know-how and proven achievements alongside how the way you think and behave will be a benefit to the team you work with and the company as a whole.

Ask your own questions

You should be given an opportunity to ask your interviewer about anything that may not have been raised in the rest of the interview. Asking the right questions can help in giving a very positive view that you’re the right person for the job. Your previous research into the company might be useful here, as there may be details on certain projects or company policies that you’d really like to know. It can also be a chance to find out what the company’s ambitions are in the medium term. Asking the interviewer about what they enjoy about working for this company is also a good idea.

Expect the unexpected

Some job interviews – particularly at graduate level – can take an unexpected angle from time to time. Many interviewers feel they can learn a great deal about a candidate very quickly by getting their reaction to an unusual question!

Your answers to these ‘curve balls’ might be an important element in differentiating you from the competition, so be sure to keep your composure with your response. There’s often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer – the test is probably to see how you think through it and your creativity. Try to be confident about it and talk thorough how you come about your answer.

Here are just some of those many off-beat things that you might be asked:

  • Can you describe yourself in three words?
  • If you could spend a day on a desert island with one person, who would it be and why?
  • What kind or car would you liken yourself to?
  • In a film about your life, who should play the role of you?
  • How many footballs would fill this room?
  • How do you rate me as an interviewer?
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