Preparing for a job interview
Effectively preparing for a job interview is essential. We explain how.
Graduate Job interview preparation
Many students have a part time job whilst studying. Below is some interview advice for students:
- Read the job description well. Make sure you are aware what is expected of you.
- Research the Company. Familiarise yourself with what they do. Look on their website.
- Work out what to take to the interview. What have they asked for? Is it worth taking a summary along of your skills along to hand out in the interview? You should also take your CV along, examples of your work that may be relevant, a notebook and pen, and prepare questions to ask in the interview.
- Practice for your interviews – see competency tips below.
- Work out the travel logistics. Make sure you arrive early.
- Familiarise yourself with basic interview etiquette. Try not to be nervous and think confidently.
- In the interview, make sure you speak slowly. Take your time to answer questions.
Interview questions to prepare for
Here are a few pointers to help you develop your interview technique when you are preparing for a job interview. It is worth having a good look at online resources. which describe likely competency based questions for interviews.
Make sure you consider which interview questions to prepare for and practice your answers beforehand. Even write down different examples under core competency based questions including:
- Time management / planning / organisation skills
- Team work
- Communication skills
- Problem solving ability
- Initiative and enterprise
- Learning and use of technology
When preparing for a job interview the other things I would advise you to do is to have a good look on their website as they are bound to ask why you want to work there and why you want that role. Prepare an answer for those type of questions. Make sure you have done your research thoroughly on what the company offers (products, services, progression, facilities and approach).
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We would recommend the following interview questions to prepare for:
- First degree choice? [Preparation for career choice, enjoyment]
- What can you bring to the company? [Your passion/enthusiasm/unique skills etc]
- What are your weaknesses? [Turn a negative into a positive. Talk about being a perfectionist, spending too much money on books, trying to do too much which has made you realise where you limits are and being good at managing your time]
- Discuss work experience you have undertaken and what you learnt? [Be prepared. Talk about broadening your skills, gaining experience in a subject area, time management, managing difficult situations etc]
- Longer term career plans? [Be focused and aware of CPD]
- What is the achievement you are most proud of? [Prepare response relating to academic achievements and subject relevance]
- Why should we offer you this role? [Summarise your skills and what you add]
- What are you reading? Last book you read? [Read something topical and appropriate!]
- What will you contribute to the team and how will you work with other colleagues? [Prepare examples of how you have successfully worked in teams and engaged colleagues in tasks]
- Talk about your skills [prepare STAR competency examples – situation, task, action and result]
- They may include short teamwork exercises to see how you integrate and work with colleagues
How to answer interview questions
Many interviews will ask questions and expect examples of your skills and when you have done things. The STAR technique is very useful. It may help you prepare for your job interview by running through competency based examples using the STAR technique:
Situation – setting the scene
Task – describing what you want to achieve
Action – what you did
Result – how was the situation resolved?
Useful examples that you might want to prepare include: examples of when you have solved problems, your analytical ability, team work, leadership qualities, writing skills, presentation skills, IT literacy, creativity or marketing/social media skills.
Effective preparing for a job interview requires you to understand and articulate your passion, enthusiasm and breadth of experience. Remember to sell that! This is what makes you unique from other candidates. In particular, talk about any work experience or voluntary placements and internships you have worked on. Really draw on what you have learnt through all your positions at the university and in these types of roles. Ensure you have considered the right interview questions to prepare for. Use multiple examples in answers to their questions.
Prepare questions for them. They are likely to ask if you have some for them. Draw on some aspect of business that interests you.
Finally, follow the usual interview etiquette. Shake their hands when you enter and leave. Thank them for considering you. Be confident and try not to fiddle with you hair or paper etc. If they ask a question that throws you, you can always tell them you would like a minute to think about it or give a broad answer and then lead the conversation back to an area you know really well.
I hope this helps you in preparing for a job interview. It really is practice that makes perfect. Spend time considering what interview questions to prepare for and working out what examples you will give.
Good luck with the interview.