So, your CV has got you past the first hurdle and now it is on to what is probably the most important part of the process in getting your new job – the interview. Love them or loathe them, the interview stage is one that has been around since the early 1920s and doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon.
As a company we work on roles right from entry level to CFO, so to give blanket advice for interviews would be a near-impossible task (though of course there are certain things that will always ring true no matter what the salary is). With that in mind, we give you the first of our interview tips blog post, tailored specifically for graduates and those in more junior roles.
How to prepare for your interview
This almost goes without saying, but great preparation often makes for a great interview. Start with the company (their website, their social feeds, their news pages) and then move on to the job specification itself. How does your experience match with what the job spec is asking for? Your interviewer is more than likely going to base their interview questions on the job specification you’ve already seen, so preparing for this in advance and having your relevant experience at your finger tips is going to be hugely beneficial.
For those of you who are fresh out of University, then a great tip is to revise for a job interview as you would for an exam. You need to know everything (your CV, the job description, the company) back to front and top to bottom. You should be able to talk through your experience clearly and succinctly, and be able to highlight where your achievements and responsibilities are relevant for the job you’ve applied for, so practice doing this before hand!
To take this a step further, very often a business will document competencies needed for a role, either on the job spec itself or on the career pages of the company. If this is so, then you need to think of some examples that demonstrate that you possess these competencies. Use the STAR technique to answer these types of questions. Find out more about this technique and see some examples here.
When offered the chance to ask questions, use the research you have done beforehand to ask informed questions that show you have a genuine interest in the role. If you have been told who will be interviewing you in advance then check them out on LinkedIn as well and see if their past experiences lend themselves to good interview questions. If all else fails, this at least gives you the opportunity to pick the brains of someone who has been in the industry for some time.
Before your interview, start to think about what you’re going to wear and how you are going to get to your interview. For most of the jobs at this level in our sectors a slightly smarter than ‘smart-casual’ dress code is fine, but definitely check with your consultant before you go in as they will be able to give you the best advice on a client by client basis.
What to look out for on the day
It’s sods law that on the day there will numerous delays and planned engineering work on the day of your interview, so be sure to keep your eye on apps like CityMapper or the TFL website and plan an alternate route if your main one is going to be affected. If you end up running late, then let your consultant know and they can inform your interviewer. That said, it is much better to leave earlier just in case to allow yourself some time if there are delays – even if that means you arrive at the interview well in advance.
Arriving early has the benefit of being able to use the extra time to calm your nerves and get settled before walking in. Preparation means nothing if you forget everything the moment you walk in, overridden with stress. Arriving at your interview earlier gives you the time sit down and compose yourself before you go and sign yourself in at reception.
During the interview
It is said that people make a decision about someone within the first thirty seconds of meeting them, so you need to make that first impression count. Keep your smile bright, your hand-shake strong and maintain an appropriate level of eye contact when you first meet your interviewer.
From then on it is really down to you! If you have prepared well then you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure to listen to the questions you are being asked and try to answer them to the best of your ability.
There are of course many other factors outside of our advice that lead to a successful interview and a job offer being made. Sometimes the face-to-face interview is just one stage of many that may also include other methods such as online tests, but you will know this well in advance. Our consultants at Talentedge are very informed on all the methods our clients use, so when it comes to interview time we can guarantee that you will get a tailor-made set of advice for the interview process you are entering into.
If you’ve got any tips of your own you’d like to share with us, then let us know in the comments section below!