Before the Interview: A Recent Experience

With my MGP role in the Careers Service set to finish in July, over the last few weeks I’ve been sending off job applications and attending interviews as I hunt down a graduate scheme or full-time role that would make a great next step in my career.

It’s not unusual to move jobs in the first few years after you graduate – in fact, 1 in 4 graduates expect to move jobs within their first 12 months of working. You don’t have to pick the job that you’re going to do “for the rest of your life” straight from uni. Just find one you think you’ll find interesting and enjoy, and that suits your skills and strengths.

In the last month I’ve had some interviews – two with a Manchester-based marketing agency and one for a graduate scheme at a PR agency in London. I thought I’d share my experiences to help you think about how you could approach preparing for any interviews you have coming up.

Before the Interview

So you’ve just received the email or phone call telling you you’ve got an interview coming up and need to be at this place at this time on this date. If you’re unsure of anything, ask for more details. Is there anything specific you need to prepare or bring with you? Who will you be interviewed by? Sometimes they might not give you this information, but it helps to know whether you’re facing a one-to-one or panel interview so you can prepare accordingly.

I cannot stress this enough but: Research. Research. Research. Below is an example of how I went about preparing for my interviews, but you might find you prefer to prepare in a different way.

interview guide

It’s key that you also think of some questions that you can ask in your interview, as this helps demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and the company, and helps you learn a bit more about the role. Coming up with good questions can be tough, but you can find lots of advice by Googling. (I’ll talk about the questions I asked in my next blog post.)

Putting together a “pre-interview playlist” really helped me get into a positive mind-set in the run up to interviews. Getting to the interview stage is something to feel good about – your application has impressed the employers, and you could be about to take a positive step towards your dream career.

Advice I’ve received since starting my role in the Careers Service is that you can never be too smartly dressed for an interview. The smarter the better – and the dress code definitely doesn’t relax for second interviews. Look professional throughout the process.

Make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. Google Map the location of the office and familiarise yourself with the route there. For my PR agency interview in London, I took the wrong underground, had to go back the way I came, and then struggled to find the building in the maze of streets around Charing Cross station. Didn’t need that added stress hours before an interview!

You can find more advice about preparing for interviews, including phone and Skype interviews, and find some example competency questions here.

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