For many graduates, interviewing is new territory. It can be challenging to learn how to best present yourself and how to prepare. Here are a few ways to beat the competition and make sure you ace the interview.
1. First Impressions Count
This isn’t a comment on how you dress, though this is an important decision based on what business you’re interviewing for. First impressions start from your initial application: from your CV to your tone on email.
Follow these three P’s:
- Promptness - get back to the person who’s contacting you quickly
- Personable – show your personality! Have you asked your interviewer about their day too? Get to know them outside of the parameters of the interview
- Punctuation – have someone read over your CV, or use Grammarly
2. Being Ill Prepared
A common mistake is rushing your preparation for an interview. One of the first questions any interviewer will ask is why you applied for the position.
Have a checklist ready:
- What does the company do? Any recent achievements?
- Why have you specifically applied to them
- What is the role? Can you list the requirements needed and compare your own skill sets against this?
- Research the interviewer - check them out on LinkedIn or their company website. How long have they worked there? What questions do you have for them specifically?
- Have questions prepared! (more on this in point 3)
3. Asking Ordinary Questions
A great interviewer will probably have answered the average questions: what will I be doing; what’s the company culture like; what are the working hours.
Here’s your chance to show your enthusiasm for the role. If you don’t have any questions, it can often leave the interviewer feeling like you’re uninterested.
My top tip is to prepare some questions but also to be prepared to jump in with questions throughout the interview. The most important thing is to find out if this is the right role for you:
- Do you fully understand what’s expected of you?
- Do you know how the role is going to change? For example: what can you expect in week one but also 6 months down the line?
- How have other graduates done in this role? Can the interviewer give you any examples of success stories in the business?
- Go deeper! What motivates you? What can you ask that will help you better understand whether this is the right place for you?
4. Poor Table Manners
Super easy to get right but if not followed, these steps can be hugely detrimental to any interview:
- Showing up late… or too early! Get to your interview with 5-10 minutes to spare. Ideally you want to be within walking distance with 20 minutes to go so there’s no chance of transport issues. Grab a coffee/sit down so that you’re relaxed when you arrive.
- Leaving your coat on. Sounds obvious, but there’s been many a time where I’ve seen candidates leave their coat on. It creates the impression that you’re ready to leave!
- Phones off. And that included off the table. Be present.
5. Don't Forget to Follow-up
Just because you’ve been invited to interview doesn’t mean you need to leave everything in your interviewer’s hands. Following up on text can be a great way to stay front of mind and remind the interviewer that you’re interested.
Using email or text (and adding them on LinkedIn!) to connect with them with any follow-up questions shows your interest.
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