For some more interview practice and a list of just about every question you might be asked, take a look at the 'Other resources' links to your left.
Graduate Careers Advice Video: Graduate Interview Questions
Presenter: There's nothing quite like an interview to turn the normally consummate professional into a blithering wreck. What is it about that situation that makes us talk such rubbish? Fortunately, I've got some CareerPlayer friends who gave me their top tips on how not to balls up an interview.
Prior planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance!
Obviously come prepared, know about the business that you're going to see, know about the industry as a whole, know about the latest news items, have an opinion as well. I think it's very important to come in with an opinion. There's no right or wrong answer. If there is a right or wrong answer it doesn't matter if you've got the wrong answer, but be able to back it up, be able to demonstrate some thinking behind it.
Before, when I've interviewed people, who, when I've asked them perhaps what's gone on in the marketplace in the last week, they've got no idea. So if you want to come into the industry do a lot of research, do a lot of reading.
Make sure you've done a bit of research and you've actually practiced if you are going to do a presentation. Actually put some time aside. Practice, rehearse, it will make you feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less nervous.
First impression, if you want to stand out, turn up smart.
I think big turn offs in interviews are arrogance and ignorance. Arrogance because there is nothing worse than people showing up thinking they know it all and they're not prepared to adapt their view and their opinion to what they hear. And ignorance because if you don't do your homework it shows straight away and it's unforgiveable.
Presenter: So i get it, preparation the key but what exactly should you be preparing?
Make sure you know your application inside and out because this will form the basis of your interview.
You will always get asked why you want to apply to X firm when you are applying.
Most interviewers will ask you about what challenges you've faced, what's your motivation so you can always prepare these kinds of questions in advance. Don't recite an answer you've learned off-by-heart but at least have some idea in your head so that when you get asked that question, you don't become completely flummoxed and you don't have an answer.
Try and find out the key criteria and the way to do that is by reading a lot of the company publications. If you read enough of the company publications you will finally find something, or it will be called the "Key Global Skills" or the "Key Global Behaviours" and there will be a list of about 8 things and they will be fluffy to an extent but there will be substance behind them.
Look for the examples that you can bring whether it be from work experience, activities you've done at university. How can you demonstrate these competencies that they're looking at.
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.
Presenter: The thing is, they’ve seen your super CV and they know you’ve got the skills they want. So why the need to quiz you like this?
Your CV may be fantastic and you may be the world's biggest brain. If you don't come across as somebody, who at the end of the day they might want to go to the pub and have a beer with, or they want to chat a case through with, then they're not going to offer you a place.
It comes down to people's personalities; you get the right person and you teach them how to do the job and somebody who's got the right attitude and the right mindset and attitude that they can do anything, will do anything.
Don't be afraid to be yourself. Half the time they're looking for a personality fit so you need to know that you'd get on well in that company as well as them knowing that you would like to work there.
The second part of that is really caution not to rely too much on the force of your personality because a lot of people think that just by being themselves and by showing how wonderful they are that's going to be music to the ears of the interviewer but it often is not.
One thing I would encourage anybody to do is not to try and be something they're not. It's tempting to try and develop some kind of persona that you think might be attractive to an employer but in fact it's easy to see through that and people have got to be themselves.
It shouldn't just be, I'm going to impress this person and make them want to hire me, it should be on a more equal footing. I want to go in here and I'm going to be calm because I want to know about them, I want to know if I want to do this job and I'm going to be happy in this environment. You don't want to end up somewhere committing to a graduate scheme realising after 2 months you don't want to do it.
A lot of people have these wonderful CVs and they have all these wonderful ‘A's and all the rest of it, and it's marvellous, and they send in their CV and you think, this guy looks great, this girl looks great, get them in and they arrive, and they're a plank. They sit there and they're scared, they don't say much and they give one word answers or even worse, they've read the company's annual report backwards and they trot out these lines that don't mean anything like a robot and all this wonderful potential you've seen on their CV turns into this robotic, very unimaginative and actually very uninspiring performance.
Presenter: Sometimes nerves do the get the better of you and you just can’t think fast enough...
Never be afraid to pause. If somebody says, what do you think about so-and-so you shouldn't be frightened to give it a moment's thought and to say, if necessary, let me think about that.
Keep looking at the interviewer because the interviewer is a good source of information actually because if they're getting bored, the eyes go slightly so "Cut", let's get out of this one, I've done enough!
Be prepared to take the conversation to the interviewer so be prepared to lead the conversation. Rather than sitting back and waiting for the next question to be asked and get your answer out as soon as you can, take the opportunity to lead the conversation, lead the debate, ask questions of the interviewer. As long as that doesn't come across as too aggressive, as long as you manage to do it in a way that doesn't make someone sit back in their chair and think what the hell they've got on their hands.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket - when you apply you don't just apply to one place - so when you go into an interview its not the be all and end all.
Sometimes in an interview the right outcome is that you're not right for this job. Phew, thank goodness - that would have been terrible.
The single top tip is if you get sat on the other side of table from me or anyone else, look like you mean it, look like you want it. If I can see it in the eyes, if you can see that level of enthusiasm, that focus, that drive, that commitment, that energy, that's someone I can see rolling their sleeves up, learning what they need to learn, and making a shot of this job. That's someone you can see yourself sitting next to every day.
Presenter: Personality goes a long way, but not far enough it would seem. Nothing replaces good old-fashioned preparation. It’s also the best-known cure for nerves.
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