Job interviews are a daunting experience, so we dig into 5 keys things to help you ace your interviews. For many students, interviews are the part of the application they fear the most. In this article we talk you through what you could be doing differently to ensure you give yourself the best chance of impress.
1. Know who is going to be interviewing you
Being prepared is key for an interview. One of the most costly mistakes made by students are down to not preparing for the right questions, even though they have put in the effort to find out about the company. Finding out who is likely to be interviewing you will help you anticipate the types of questions you are likely to be asked and is something that can really change the content of the interview.
For most interviews, particularly those before the final stages of the application process, you are most likely to be interviewed by either a member of the HR team, a manager of some sort or somebody from the team you are applying for. If you are interviewed by somebody from HR you are likely to be asked questions regarding your CV, work experience and competencies. Whilst if you are interviewed by somebody working within the business or a more senior member of staff then you can expect to be asked potentially more technical questions about the role and about the business.
Making sure your preparation is well rounded is still very important, but knowing what your interview is likely to cover can really be the key difference maker.
2. Check your appearance before meeting your interviewer
Most students will ensure they look professional and impeccable when they leave their homes before an interview, but not enough students take the time to check themselves moments before meeting their interviewer. Amongst the stress and anticipation leading up to an interview, this simple step is often forgotten, but is very important to remember.
First impressions are paramount when going for an interview, so be sure to make sure you look as good going into your interview as you did before arriving at your destination. Small details such as your tie being straight and shoes being spotless are things interviewers may judge you on, so make sure you are looking your best.
3. Be prepared to think on your feet
It is impossible to know every question you are going to be asked in an interview, so don’t assume that you know everything they will ask you. The interviewer is always likely to throw a curve ball or two.
The best way to deal with this is to answer interview questions slowly enough to give yourself time to think and to consider your answers carefully. Even if you are asked asked a question you prepared for, you don’t want to be in a situation where you respond quickly to particular question and then when given a more difficult question you stall considerably longer than you have for other questions.
Remember, the interviewer is likely to have done hundreds of interviews before, so rattling off a prepared answer at lightening speed is going to be caught very easily by them. At the same time, they want to see someone who demonstrates that they would be an asset to the company. By showing you are taking time to consider harder or less standard questions and are giving an answer which shows you can act professionally and with reasoned thought is a real positive.
4. Know your weaknesses as well as your strengths
In an interview you want to be putting your best foot forward and showing an interviewer what you are good at. However, the best way to avoid making a bad impression is knowing what you are not so strong at and improving upon those areas.
A question that interviewers love to ask in interview is about what you believe your weaknesses are, so you need to have something prepared to answer that inevitable question. Don’t try telling the graduate employer that you have no weaknesses, as everybody has their faults and denying you have any can come across as arrogant or complacent. At the same time, saying “I am a perfectionist and work too hard” just won’t cut it. Try to show some honestly without making yourself look unemployable.
5. Always sit up straight and look at the interviewer when responding
Body language is key to interview success and basic faults like slouching and looking down at the floor when answering questions can lead to an interviewer being left unconvinced by the answers you are giving, as well as unengaged and underwhelmed.
Also, answer questions with confidence and conviction to give the leave the best impression possible. However, if you are not sure or don’t know the answer to something you are asked, then don’t be afraid to tell an interviewer that that is the case. It is better than guessing, hoping for the best and the interviewer thinking that you don’t know what you are talking about. It can be a good tactic in interviewers to acknowledge that you don’t know a particular answer but make it clear you would be keen to learn more about what they are asking.
Have you got an interview coming up and not sure what to expect, make sure to check out all the questions that students have been asked by employers in past interviews to help you prepare for what you could be asked in your interview.