Written by Alana Foster
The time has come to enter the big wide working world. You have studiously spend the last few years slaving away at university, attending all those lectures, noting all of your readings and of course submitting every assignment in on time (I see you nodding). But where to from here?
You have that fabulous graduation certificate in hand (all those late nights were worth it right?) and a brain bustling with knowledge, you are ready to hit the ground running towards your dream job. Even for those of you in transit from first year to graduation day, these helpful interview tips will have your future bosses ticking all of the boxes before you have a chance to flash them your freshly printed CV.
You’ve just landed an interview for the job of all jobs… or something of equivalence. It will pay the bills, is in the area of your chosen discipline and will let you work your way up to success with (let’s be honest) a bit of shit kicking in-between. Whilst your application was impressive enough for a call back, it’s your interviewing skills that will have them leading the way to your new office.
Punctuality: Is essential in proving that you are organised and excited by the job prospects. There is a fine line between on time and overly eager; so around the five minute mark is a good time frame.
Enthusiasm: Do your background research. Google is there for a reason people so read up on the company, the job and the working environment. Even your interviewer so you can drop in a line like… “I am extremely impressed in your drive and success in developing this company, it is something I would love to be involved within”. Eye contact is always essential!
Personal Goals: Knowing what you want from this job and how the job can benefit you. Cross promote yourself and the company; giving examples of how you can utilise the company’s principles in your role is something that will be highly appraised. There is nothing better than networking so talk about the opportunities for you and the company and how “eager you are to grow/learn/develop”.
Ask Questions: Be assertive and ask as many questions throughout the interview, – try and avoid anything to do with a salary or holidays – using your research to fuel your questions it will show initiative and a valid interest in the job.
Put a positive spin on anything negative, for example if they ask you to discuss “one thing you could improve on as an individual”. So you answer spins a negative with a positive, “I sometimes have difficulty working towards deadlines, but by creating and prioritising ‘to do’ lists I ensure the work is done on time”. This highlights a positive trait (organised) and answers the question.
Prepare: Whether this is over the phone or via email, always ask what they will require you to bring, a résumé is a given so ask about a portfolio of work or written references. You want to be prepared with as much information before you enter the interview. This means triple editing your cover letter and résumé, having examples of work handy (printed or online like a blog is a good idea).
Practice: Answering the basic interviewing questions that will no doubt be asked, like “tell us about yourself” or “why this job”. Try and avoid sounding generic, be honest and don’t second-guess yourself because you are under a test, you want to present the best you there is. Remember to stay calm, talk at a normal pace and don’t swear (something I am always scared of doing is dropping the F bomb without even realising until it is too late).
Dress: To impress. It’s better to be over than under dressed; smart corporate style is the way to go. Ladies heels are always a good option but make sure you can walk in them without looking like you’ve had a few drinks. Gents, a no-no is sneakers, wear your best leather shoe and you should have no problem.
Thank-you: At the conclusion of an interview shake their hand and sincerely thank them for their time. This is a small gesture that will not go unnoticed.
Put yourself in the shoes of your future employer. You need to possess strengths that they themselves hold within their own jobs, show them you really want to work for their company. You can never go into an interview too prepared, remember that you haven’t got the job just yet, while thoughtful suggestions and ideas are showing your enthusiasm and career aspirations for the job, ensure there is a balance between knowing it and being a know it all. Remember who is boss!
Now you are ready to ace your interview and score that dream job, good luck!