Graduate Interview Advice
Sam Wilson, June 10, 2015
So the world of work awaits! Whether it is the 1st step on your desired career ladder or a stopgap whilst you work out what you want to do, your 1st job after leaving university is an exciting prospect but the interview can be a rather daunting one.
In this article I will discuss how to tackle those first interviews, using the experience you have and setting you on your way to your first graduate job.
Always go smart
There are literally countless articles out there in internet land that have advice on interview dress so I’ll keep this point brief. There are many that will tell you that different industries have different dress codes and you should dress accordingly for your interviews.
Whilst this is true, you wouldn’t necessarily be expected to know this going into your 1st interviews and it is something that is easy to get wrong. My recommendation would be to go as smart as you can (to an extent, top hat and tails can be left at home). Dressing too casually can quickly convince employers that you lack professionalism and understanding of the workplace. On the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that you will be judged negatively for dressing too smartly.
A smart appearance demonstrates a respect for the employer as well as your desire to give a good impression, both of which are very desirable qualities.
Know your stuff
A source of anxiety for those going into interviews for their 1st jobs is a lack of work experience which will be judged negatively. Firstly, don’t worry. The person interviewing has read your application and is fully aware of exactly how much experience you have.
The important thing in this situation is that you can demonstrate that you have gained experience, skills and knowledge in other ways.
As well as being a great topic of conversation, discussing your dissertation or any other large projects is an effective way of demonstrating transferrable skills and knowledge.
Skills that can be demonstrated include:
• Data analysis
• Time management
This is also an opportunity to show passion for a piece of work that you have done, this is an incredibly desirable quality for an employer as it suggests that you may apply similar passion and interest in the work you would be doing for them.
Similarly, if you have been part of any sports teams or other extra-curricular activities this can be another way to demonstrate skills and passion. These include:
• Working under pressure
Finding topics that will spark conversation and interest is key. In an ideal world, the interviewer wants to do as little work as possible in your interview. This isn’t to say that they won’t be trying or that they are not interested, just that they want the interview to flow smoothly and to be made up of engaging conversation. Finding topics such as your dissertation or extra curricular activities that you can talk about passionately and at length will definitely work for you in this regard.
Know their stuff
It has been said time and time again and will continue to be said for years to come, it is absolutely essential that you research the organisation you are interviewing with in significant detail.
Your interviewer is under no disillusion about the number of jobs you will have applied for you however it is still important that you show that you know about their organisation. I have discussed this at length in previous articles so I will give you the quick version.
• Don’t just remember random facts and figures (your interviewer knows when the company was founded and how many employees they have)
• Think about how the organisation’s values align with your own
• Think about what it is about what the company does that makes you want to work for them
• Think about what your role entails and how that fits into the bigger picture in terms of departmental and organisational goals
Showing this level of in-depth understanding and interest will stand you in good stead when it comes to seeing off your prestigious competition.