You’ve completed the stress inducing application form that asked you so many questions… you’ve battled those horrible psychometric tests and then you get the email/phone call inviting you to an interview. Do you celebrate or do you shiver with fear?
An invite to an interview means that you’ve caught the company’s eye, they see the potential in you but the real question is.. Are you going to sell yourself enough?
As you can guess today’s focus is on interview prep.
I’ve been to a fair few interviews over the past 6 months for placements and if i’m honest they have been a mix of stressful and joyful experiences – they have been stressful due to being thrown off by questions that I didn’t expect to be asked such as ‘If you were a biscuit what would you be?’ but they also have been joyful especially when I have managed to build rapport with the interviewer which made the interview feel less tense for me.
Here are my quick tips for success when it comes to interview prep and interviews.
- Research, research and more research – Researching the company and industry it is in shows that you are genuinely interested in the company and it also shows that you know your stuff. Have a look at their corporate website, check their history and pay special attention to the industry they are in. If you want to take researching to the next level, have a look at the company’s financial reports and grab some facts out of there. It will go down like a treat with the interviewers. To read more about researching for an interview, click here
- Do a self-evaluation of yourself – This is something that helped me a lot. Write down everything you have done and have achieved over the past two years. This can include activities inside University such as being a Senior Course Rep to external activities such as participating in volunteering projects. This will help remind you of everything you have achieved and this also allows you to have a wide variety of experiences/achievements ready for when you have to answer those pesky competency based questions.
- STAR will be your new friend – Situation/Task/Action/Result. Gone are the days when you could waffle your way through an interview, interviewers these days want clear answers with a variety of examples. Using STAR will help you structure your answers giving the interviewers the info that they want.
Situation – Set the scene (no waffle please)
Task – What was the task/ what was required of you?
Action – What did YOU do (It’s all about you so avoid saying ‘we did this’ or ‘the group did this’ make use of ‘I did this’ or ‘my role was to carry out task x’).
Result – What was the outcome? What happened in the end?
- Dress to impress – Seems obvious but you would be surprised by what people interpret smart or business smart as. It actually reminds me of a time when I had a placement interview in September 2013, the email brief stated ‘Business Smart’ very clearly which I complied with, however when I came out of my interview, I saw the candidate who was due to be interviewed next wearing Uggs, ripped jeans, a Run DMC t-shirt and a biker jacket. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then I don’t know what does. Dressing smart shows you are a serious candidate for the placement as you’ve made the effort to dress smartly. Don’t ruin your chances by dressing casually; even if the email brief doesn’t state a dress code play it safe and dress smart.
- Book a mock interview with one of the University’s Careers Consultants – You know what they say practice makes perfect – so get some practice by having a mock interview with one of the University’s careers consultants.
By doing this you get feedback which allows you to tweak your interview technique, you also get a taster of how the interview will be, this will make you feel a little bit more confident come the day of the interview as you would of already practiced.
So that wraps up my piece on interview prep. Any comments/thoughts? Leave a reply and I will get back to you.
Helpful Links for preparation
Bloomberg News (Very good website for researching industries/markets/companies): http://www.bloomberg.com/
Guardian STAR Guide with a good example:
PSA Peugeot Citroen’s AC Survival Guide (Has a good section on interview prep): http://www.peoplebank.com/pb3/corporate/PSA/shared/download/Assessment_Centre_Survival_Guide.pdf