What really makes me cross is when a candidate has clearly failed to do their homework for an interview.
Researching the company and job role is the easiest way to differentiate yourself and yet in my experience, at least 50% of graduate and industrial placement applicants let themselves down badly here.
I’ve conducted 1000s of first interviews; online, telephone and face to face. Well researched and prepared candidates stand out a mile are a total breath of fresh air. They are exciting to listen to and generally perform well in the rest of the interview.
I couldn’t help myself last week – a candidate knew so much about the organisation they were applying to and what they would be doing in the job, that I quietly celebrated with a little dance.
‘Wow, you’ve done your homework!’ I exclaimed!
At the other end of the scale, I interviewed a candidate who had no clue whatsoever about what he would be doing in the role.
Failing to prepare, really is preparing to fail.
Being invited to interview is such a big step towards landing a job you really want and is your opportunity to shine. Interviewing unprepared candidates often feels like they’re after any job, not this particular one and they clearly lack motivation.
What interviewers like me really want to know is:
Whatever the format of the interview, you’ll be asked a selection of these types of questions.
1. Career motivation questions
Why do you want to work with us?
They want to know how much research you’ve done on the organisation, services, products, culture etc.
Immerse yourself into their organisation, initially through the website but also look at their social media posts and reach out to people on LinkedIn to find out more about what it’s like to work there.
2. Competency and values questions
Please give us an example of a time you’ve worked as part of a team?
This is your chance to show them how well you work with others and build relationships. They want to hear what your contribution was to the team and how you collaborated to achieve a goal.
You can prepare for these kinds of question by looking at the job description to remind yourself of the skills they’re looking for and picking out examples from your work experience, volunteering, course work or extracurricular activities.
3. Strengths based questions
What motivates you?
This is about being honest and open and helps the interviewer decide if this job would really suit you and if you’d enjoy it. It’s harder to predict these kinds of questions but going through your CV in detail and revisiting your experiences, will pay dividends and help you think on your feet.
4. Hypothetical questions
What would you do if…….?
Again this is about understanding what you’d be doing on a day to day basis and knowing about the culture of the organisation. Yesterday I looked up ‘what’s it like to work on an oil rig’ and now feel quite ready to wing my way into a job as a driller!
Practice practice practice
Once you’ve done your homework, the next thing is to practice articulating answers to some typical questions. I don’t mean heavy scripting though. Having some notes on things you want to include in your answers will help you feel confident but over rehearsing will sound robotic and unnatural and won’t come across well. Your interviewer wants you to build rapport with them and to speak spontaneously and authentically. Just be yourself!
Practice to your mirror, family and friends or record yourself on a laptop. Thinking about what you might say isn’t the same as articulating it out loud. It’s worth investing time on this last stage.
Interview Coaching for Graduates
If you really want to stand out and impress your interviewer, please get in touch. Our one to one interview coaching and practice interviews to help people like you to thoroughly prepare to nail their interviews.