This article was authored by The Graduate Group. Follow them on twitter @GradGroupUK for more advice on how to secure a graduate role in the City!
Interviews are unescapable and probably the most daunting stage in the job application process. However, fear not! Any nerves and anxiety that you may face in relation to interviews can often be minimised with good preparation – after all its commonly said that “proper preparation prevents poor performance”. So take a few minutes to read our magic 3 P’s to help you get ready and be well-equipped to impress any employer!
- Know and understand the format of the interview you are going in to – there is nothing worse than being surprised when you arrive at an interview. As soon as you receive an invitation for the interview, ask the recruitment team what format it will take. For example it may be a competency based interview, there may be commercial / technical questions to answer or it may be an “informal chat”, either way base your preparation around the style of the interview.
- Research, research, research – you will need to conduct research on:
- the organisation;
- the role that you are applying for; and
- the people who will be interviewing you.
Having sound knowledge on these three areas will enable you tackle questions such as “Why have you applied to work at Company X?” and “What do you think will be expected of you in this role?” as well as helping you to build a rapport with the interviewers. Overall, good in-depth research will give the impression that you know your stuff.
- Make sure you know yourself and what you have to offer – write down 7 key achievements that you have accomplished within the past 3-5 years. Then, list what skills you have obtained from each achievement e.g. communication, dealing with difficult people etc. This will enable you to answer competency and strength-based interviews such as “Tell me about a time that you worked in a team and had to overcome an obstacle?” or “Tell me about your strengths and/or weaknesses?”
- Prepare some questions to ask the interviewers – have questions for your interviewer/s, but make sure they are appropriate (this is where your research will come in handy). For example, if you are being interviewed by HR staff, there is limited value in asking them what the strategy of the company is for the next 5 years. Similarly, try not to ask senior management questions that may not be well equipped to answer e.g. what CSR initiatives the company has.
- Practice out loud – As cringe-worthy as it may sound, practicing your responses to questions and hearing the sound of your own voice, can often help to minimise your nerves and perfect your responses. How? you might ask. Well, it will enable you to:
- correct any mistakes that you may have with the structure of your answers, as you will begin to realise whether you are rambling on or being clear and concise;
- learn how to talk and think at the same time, as you will have to be conscious of what you are saying; and
- adjust any bad habits that you have with fidgeting and eye contact.
- Wake up early on the day of the interview and run through your notes – On the day of your interview, it is important that you are early and relaxed rather than frantic and on-edge. Starting the day by briefly reviewing or reflecting upon the notes you have prepared should help to focus your mind and calm you down.
- The interview starts at the door – make sure you arrive 15 minutes early, and be nice and polite to everyone you meet from the moment that you walk in to the building. You never know who is watching, so it’s important to create a positive impression from the outset.
- Calm your nerves – take a moment before the interview to go to the toilet and take a deep breath (or whatever your routine may be), in order to destress.
- Ask for a glass of still water (not sparkling water and not tea) – this is a great trick! When you are asked a tricky question and you need a moment to think of a response, take a sip of water. This will buy you some time (up to 1-2 minutes), and enable you to think about your answer calmly.
- Take your time – When responding to questions, take your time to answer (practicing out loud will help with this). If you make a mistake, calmly ask to start your response again, and if you don’t know the answer, there is nothing wrong with saying that you are unsure of the exact answer.
- Ask questions – Never leave an interview without at least asking 2 questions (3 if you have the time). This will show that you are genuinely interested in the company and/or role that you are applying to. Also asking well-thought out questions, can allow you to end your interview on a positive note.
So there you have it – the 3 P’s to interview success with plenty of tips in-between. Take these on board, go forth and conquer!
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