Whether you have had an interview before or not it’s always nerve racking when you get the call / email inviting you to come along. The more you want the job the more daunting it feels!
There are lots of different ways to interview but essentially the employer is always looking for the same thing.
- Someone who understands what the job involves and wants to do it!
- Someone who can demonstrate that they have the right skill set to be able to do the job.
The good news is if you have been invited to interview the employer already thinks you CAN do the job. Now they need to see which candidate would be best.
- These look at your reasoning for why you want to do this job to see if you really have enthusiasm and passion for it
- They also want to see if you really understand what you have applied for.
- Do you understand what they company does / makes
- Do you understand their values and the way they do business (are they your values too)
- Do you know what the role involves
The expectation is that you will have done your research, this might be:
- The company website – find out about the job, internship. Read profiles of staff who do that role if available. Look at the website as if you were a client going to buy a product or service. Why would you pick them, what are their unique selling points, who are their competitors?
- Talk to staff at events & fairs on campus, even ask questions on social media if available.
- Understand WHY YOU want to do this. Where has your interest come from?
Skills / strengths / knowledge / personality
- Knowledge could be gained through your course e.g. specialist knowledge of engineering or economics. Or could be gained through work experience, volunteering or other activities.
- Skills / competencies – could be a technical or specialist skill, but just as likely to be skills like problem solving and leadership that you could gain at University or in extracurricular activities.
- Strengths – what are you are good at and what do you enjoy doing.
- Personality – now this really is a difficult one. I use it to mean right fit for the role. There may be 10 candidates who can all do the job BUT a combination of the way they answer questions, the examples they use and the enthusiasm in their voice will indicate that which one is the best fit for the team or role.
Your research would include:
- If specialist knowledge or skills have been asked for it’s likely they will be needed in the role. So think about where specifically these might be needed and what you might be expected to know or be able to do. Do you need to find out about particular process and how it works, understand formulae or data, know the state of the market and how various factor might influence it?
- Know yourself and where you can demonstrate good examples of having used skills or strengths. Some may be in a relevant context others may not, so think about how you are going to tell that story to make it relevant. Consider not only examples of when things went to plan but also when you had to overcome problems.
- Understand what the organisation is looking for in a candidate and what type of person would succeed in that role. It’s really not something you are going to be able to fake successfully – this is why Situational Judgement Tests are often used.
And there’s more good news… if you did a good application you should have already done much of this research. The bad news is you probably researched a number of companies so now it’s time to recap and go the extra mile!
Finally… Think about some questions you can ask in the interview.
A great interview is like a natural conversation where both parties may be sharing information and asking questions. However you will find that most interviewers have set questions they have to ask and your questions may be at the end.
Your questions should not be about things you can easily find out on the website – that looks lazy. Consider…
- Questions about the company or the interviewer. What do you think is the most enjoyable thing about working at XXX? What are the biggest challenges? What does an average day look like for a new starter, intern etc.
- You can ask about specific aspects of the role you are interested in.
- There are cunning questions that may allow you to introduce new information or emphasise a skill. e.g. You mentioned earlier growth in your overseas markets is that something a new graduate would be involved in – i’d love an opportunity to use my languages?
- Questions about salary, working hours, holiday – can be asked but be careful. I would probably leave these until you have a job offer on the table.