In modern graduate application methods, employers can often make graduates jump through hoop after hoop before they get anywhere close to getting the job - but if you've made it to interview - Well Done! We are always told to prepare for interviews and make sure you're ready, but one of the main reasons interviews are a useful tool for employers to assess your suitability is because you are unable to prepare or rehearse answers and any response you give is instant.
So what do you do? How the hell are you supposed to prepare for the unexpected?
Why of course you can trot out the dusty old clichés of "Fail to prepare - prepare to fail" but how exactly? This is not just related to graduates but across the job hunting population, and with the market being as competitive as it is employers are having to be ruthless in interviews to really separate the very good from the excellent. There are three key areas that I would recommend you clue yourself up on. You won't know what they're going to ask you, you won't know the extent of their digging on you, but what you do know is that the quality of your answers may secure you the job - so the pressure is on.
1. Your Story
One of the things that often slip past graduates, and can sometimes let you down, is not being aware of what you're offering. You will have given them your skills and competencies, your experience and employment history, but that's about it. They won't know you from Adam, so the first thing to prepare is getting your story straight. The likelihood of them asking about your employment history or achievements in your last position is high so make sure you've got something to do say. Tips for this would be re-reading
and having a think about any application form questions you had to answer. This is more than likely all the employers will know about you so be ready to build on it. This also goes for any
, shall we say. I am certainly not advocating it, but if for whatever reason you've been creative with either your grades, experience or just exaggerated your importance in a previous job - make sure you've got something to say about it.
2. Purpose of the interview
In the hullabaloo and nerves around interviews, graduates can often miss the overall point of the interview - you are there to potentially work there for the foreseeable future. This means you need to know your shit about the role, the responsibilities and most of all the company. And I'm not just talking about them just being an insurance firm or a media agency. You need to know exactly what kind of company they are, where they sit in their market, what their specialities are, what are their recent developments. Remember the interviewers spend at least 40 hours a week at these places so they take it pretty seriously.
For this you want to be reading the job description, scouring their website, reading around the industry and researching and reading everything you can about the company and the business it is in. I know it is a lot of effort to put in but it is much more preferable than putting your foot in it during an interview.
3. Sort out the basics
I know you're not stupid people, but graduates have unfortunately developed a bit of a daft reputation for themselves. There are several ways that graduates have rendered the interview entirely pointless and can be easily avoided with as little as 5 minute's preparation. Things like the location of the interview, the time, the interviewer and the exact job title. These are all very simple things and can be sorted out extremely easily. If you are not sure 100% and entirely sure where the interview is double check, use the postcode and the street name separately and plan your route. Whatever you do make sure you're there on time. This last point does seem a little harsh on graduates and it is not meant to be, but there have been occasions where what could have been promising graduates have let themselves down because a lack of preparation. Ultimately, there is only so much preparation you can do. Yes, you might have got your 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses nailed but employers are more likely to be impressed if you know the company as well as the managers do. Heading into the unknown of an interview is tricky work, so what preparation you can do should be done well. For more interview advice, check out our
to see if somebody has given you the inside track.