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Graduate Careers Advice Video: Graduate Interview Technique
I thought there was only one type of graduate interview but you've mentioned that there are other types, can you tell me about them?
Yes there are and it's always a good idea to find out which type of interview you are going to get before you go. The Competency based interview which I talked about before is an interview looking back on what you've done before, your past experience, so all the questions are going to be around "give me an example when" and the tip on how to prepare for those well is if you know what the competencies are, you can then start thinking about examples. For instance, if communicating and influencing is a competency against which you are going to be interviewed, make sure you are thinking about times when you communicated well in a number of different scenarios because there is nothing worse than a candidate who has thought about communicating and influencing but has only prepared one example and the question doesn't fit, and they are flummoxed.
Biographical interviews are around the CV, very much going chronologically through your CV, why did you make that choice of course, why did you leave that job and probably lots of "what if" hypothetical questions. That's quite similar to a business line interview as well. A business line interview is around very much your business experience and would probably ask questions about what specifically you did in that situation related to an area of your expertise be it marketing, IT, HR, whatever. The technical interview will either relate to your work experience or your degree and with a technical interview you will either know the answer or not, there's not an awful lot you can do to prepare.
Will they use all of those interview methods or just one or two?
I think the biographical interview is less frequently used these days; working through the CV is not something that often happens in my experience. The most common interview is the competency based interview coupled with the business line interview and then if it's a very specific role, the technical interview may follow at a later stage.
A lot of companies I have talked to have done telephone interviews. Why do they start with them?
For one thing, its expediency, you can reach people quickly and you don't have to arrange travel because you can interview people in their own home, you don't have to arrange offices so it's in order to be quicker to market. It's more cost effective as well. The pluses for a candidate are that they can sit there in their pyjamas or whatever they are comfortable in, they can have their CV and job description out, they have to be prepared, they can have all their information in front of them so its shouldn't seem quite like such a test. The downside is there is no body language exchange so you don't know how you're doing so the tip for a candidate is to really listen for those signs that you've said enough because a telephone interviewer will have a schedule of interviews to do that day so it's not unlimited time, so if you waste your time too much on one particular question you could ruin your chances. The interviewer should be giving you some clues like, "that's very interesting, thanks for that", "thank you". That means in interviewer language, "shut up, we need to move on".
When you get to a face to face interview, what are some of your top tips?
It's so easy to get it wrong. You could do all the preparation in the world in terms of research for the company but you're likely to be asked "Why do you want this job?" and in actual fact if you've applied to 50 companies and you can't remember why you've applied for this job, it's not going to work. Be motivated about the company and listen to what people say.
Is there a way to prepare for an interview?
I would suggest you get someone to interview you, show them what the competency questions are, see if you can think what some competency questions might be and then see how you would answer them. The best method to follow in order to answer a competency question is the "STAR" method, to think about the Situation, the Task, the Action and the Result. So in terms of answering a question, which might be "Give me an example of when you explained something complex to a wide audience" you then think about "the situation was this, the task I had to do was this, so the actions I took were these, and the outcome was this", and in that way that should keep you on track because what a lot of people do is they get very caught up in the situation and they talk a lot about that and they talk a lot about the outcome but nothing about the middle and a competency interview is all about the "how", how did you do it? The reason for that is because unless you know how somebody did it, they may not necessarily have done it themselves.
Can you give me some typical interview questions that I'm most likely going to get.
Typical questions are always going to be the one about "why do you want this job?" and why shouldn't they ask that? The typical ones are going to be the most basic ones, things people throw in like, "what are your strengths and weaknesses?" The tip there is talk about your strengths, you will get probed until you get to a weakness but always demonstrate it in a positive frame. For example, my weakness is detail; I have problems with detail so I would talk about the steps I've taken to overcome that so even though it's a weakness, it's displayed almost as a strength. "Where do you want to be in 2 or 3 years times?" It doesn't really mean anything it's just that they're looking for some kind of view so think about it. Think about some questions that they might ask, put yourself in the employers shoes.
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