Graduate Interview Tips
For many graduates leaving university you will be facing your first job interviews. This can be quite a daunting prospect when you have little or no previous work experience, but we have several tips for you.
Research the Company
This cannot be stressed enough, but it is surprising how common it is that a candidate goes into an interview knowing little more than there is a job on offer. An employer will often begin the interview with an introductory overview of the company, although this can begin with the question,
"What do you know about us?"
It is not a good start to reply, "Not a lot."
Background knowledge of the company will demonstrate your interest in the role and give you something to discuss in the interview.
What to wear
For any job role it is always best to dress in a formal, conventional style. Interviewers aren't looking to judge you on your fashion sense but if you turn up in a tracksuit and trainers it is unlikely the interviewer will be able to imagine you in a position of responsibility.
Male candidates should wear a suit and tie, black leather shoes and black socks. Female candidates should wear a dress or skirt, long sleeved shirt or blouse and medium heels. Jewellery should be kept to a minimum. Safe corporate colours such as blue, black and white will give the best impression.
Research has demonstrated that body language can actually be more important than what you say in the interview. It can be difficult to control your every action, especially if you are concentrating on answering an interview question, but there are a few things you should try to keep in mind. Keep good eye contact, although you should avoid having a staring contest! Don't cross your arms during the interview as this appears as very defensive. Try to appear relaxed even if you aren't! Sit up straight and still, don't fidget and speak in a clear and calm voice.
Turn up on time!
You should arrive to an interview 5 to 10 minutes early to show that you are eager, but don't arrive half an hour early or you will get in the way and make yourself nervous. Before going to the interview, check the address of the interview location. Don't assume you know where you are going even if you check an organisation's address on their website, or on a job advert. Many companies have more than one office, or have changed location but not updated their website details.
If you contact the company well before the interview date you will demonstrate that you are keen and well organised. You will also avoid turning up 5 minutes before your interview at a deserted building 6 miles away from where you need to be!
Prepare for common questions
Interviewers often ask a similar set of questions. It is essential to be prepared for as many of the most likely questions as possible. Remember, a prospective employer is not trying to catch you out; they want to know if you are the right person for the job but they have a limited amount of time to find out. Use this to your advantage and offer any information you feel is beneficial if it doesn't come up in the interview. As well as appreciating the insight, it will come across as pro-active behaviour.
Have a look at our Common Interview Questions page for more advice.