During the Interview: A Recent Experience

In the last month I’ve had some interviews for full-time graduate jobs – 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.

During the Interview

On your way in, be polite and friendly with everyone you meet – from staff at the reception desk to the interviewers themselves. You want to leave a good impression with the company as a whole.

My first interview with the Manchester-based company focused mainly on the role, the skills it required, and my personality. The position I had applied for, whilst in the marketing sector, was quite different to the sort of work experience I had done before, so the interviewers were keen to hear why I was interested in this line of work and to determine whether or not I was up to the job.

The interview itself flowed more like a conversation than an intense questioning, and I was excited to see what questions they would ask and work out how I would answer them. We discussed the ins and outs of the job and current trends in the industry, and I was able to talk about some recent campaigns I liked that I had read about in the weeks leading up to the interview. The interviewers had obviously looked through my CV in detail, and asked me lots of questions about some of the things I had mentioned, including my study abroad period and my love of Formula 1. In return, I asked some good questions about what the goals of the department were around this role, about their reactions to industry trends, about the challenges of the job, and about the next stage of the process.

uppsala snow
Studying abroad in Sweden enhanced my ability to adapt to new situations – such as carrying two huge suitcases through four feet of snow!

The second interview for this role was a lot more intense. The very first question was “Describe our company as a brand”. Obviously I had researched the company and its values beforehand, but what a question to walk into! Then we chatted a lot about my study abroad period in Sweden and how challenging that had been and how I had adapted to living alone overseas. This interview wanted me to prove that I would throw myself into this new and different role and pick it up quickly. We talked about negotiating and building relationships, and the previous experience I had of this, and I was asked about any digital marketing work I had done during my current role. Again, I had some good questions to ask – I asked about a recent sponsorship campaign that I knew one of the interviewers had been involved in, and again asked about the challenges of the job, what their goals were around this new role, and about the next stage in the process. Don’t feel like you need to leave your questions until the end; if you’re chatting and the topic comes up, ask away.

Then, finally, I was asked how many petrol stations I thought there were in Manchester. They didn’t expect me to know the answer, of course, and the interviewer revealed that she didn’t know the answer herself. Unexpected questions like these are designed to test your reactions and how you would approach answering them. I made an educated guess based on the number of petrol stations just in my small local area of Manchester.

On your way out, thank the interviewers for their time and the opportunity, and be polite to those you meet as you leave.

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