Painful though they may be, interviews are an essential step towards landing your preferred job. Hiring somebody (especially a graduate) is a big investment and the employer aims to minimise the risk of a bad hire by being thorough in their application assessment, including the interview process. To do this they assess your background, skills, personality and general attitude to determine if you are a good fit for the company and the role.
This can be a bit of an eye-opener for applicants new to the world of work. Do you meet the employer’s requirements?
Here are some essential points to note on how to impress at graduate interviews:
Interviewing is about the employer’s needs
If you think the interview is about you then you are wrong. An interview is entirely about the employer’s needs - which is to hire the right person for the job. The role you are applying for will perform specific tasks for the organisation so will require a specific set of skills, talents and abilities. Your job is to respond to these needs in the interview and show that you meet their requirements.
Research the company
To respond well to a company’s needs you need to be familiar with the company. Research via the company web site, recent press releases and news articles. Before you turn up for the interview you should have a good understanding of what the organisation does, what its products and services are and what they declare as their culture and values.
Research the job
In addition to knowing about the company you must figure out what the job entails. What does the job description and application information tell you about the role? How does your experience prepare you to perform well in such a role? Can you come up with any examples from your studies or career that illustrate appropriate skills? Do you have any contacts in a similar role who can tell you what to expect?
Review your resume
You need to look at your resume though the eyes of the employer. Are their any ‘red flags’? What aspects of your resume are going to prompt questions? Did you take a gap year and if so what did you do that can support your candidacy? Are there any subjects where you performed poorly?
Most importantly, be prepared with more detail and examples for those parts of your resume that show that you are the right person for the job.
Be confident (but not cocky)
If you have been invited in for interview it is because your application has shown that meet the basic criteria for the job. You now have a shot at showing them why you are the right fit for their needs. So prepare well then walk in with confidence believing in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, it is going to be a lot harder to make them believe in you.
Everybody loves a story
Review your skill set in advance, learn the needs of the employer and be ready to showcase examples of how you meet those needs. Focus on your strengths – what you have that you know they need more of – to get this message across. We recommend that you do not try to learn your answers word-for-word as this sounds very wooden. Instead, you should think about the questions you may be asked and consider how you can use good success stories from your resume to answer the questions. Telling stories is far more natural than reciting learned responses so your your answers will be both more convincing and more comfortable.
Avoid telling and interviewer what your DON’T have. When given a shot at the interview you need to tell them your strengths – what you bring to the table – so focus on what you’ve got, not on what’s missing.
Remember, your job is to emphasise the positive.