4 Steps to Prepare For Your Graduate Interview

4 Steps to Prepare For Your Graduate Interview


Once you have considered multiple career possibilities after university - from what career path you should take to what the most desirable skills are, how to network, what company you would want to work for and why - it is time to start preparing for that crucial moment: your graduate interview! 

 

Attending interviews is probably the most nerve-racking part of the process of finding a job, especially if you have never done one before. 

 

Interestingly, some of you may be a natural when it comes to meeting people and selling your best product (yourself), but for those of you who find it somewhat daunting - we are here to help! We will begin by taking you through the 4 steps to follow before your graduate interview, whether it’s online or face-to-face. 

 

 

Follow our top tips on graduate interview preparation: 

Step 1 - How to Prepare

Preparation is key to a successful graduate interview. Recruiters and hiring managers can always tell when a candidate is underprepared, and attending an interview unorganised and unprepared will only decrease your chances. If you genuinely want the job, you must make the most out of your time before the interview to prove to the employer how serious you are about this opportunity.

 

  • Research the company:

First things first: preparing for an interview, whether it’s online or face-to-face, it’s necessary to complete some research on the company you applied to. Completing research beforehand shows the recruiter that you are genuinely interested in the role they are advertising within their company. It’s also extremely beneficial for yourself since you need to make sure the company is the right fit for you, your career growth, and self-development.

 

It’s more than likely that one of the first questions the interviewer will ask is “What do you know about the company?” Completing some key company research beforehand and getting to know your potential employer can help you to start the interview off on a good note. 

 

Before attending the interview, take some time to browse their website, social media channels and other online communication. Use whatever is available online to get ahead and find out as much as you can, so that you can confidently impress the interviewer! If the company has not explicitly stated what their values are, try to reach a logical answer, but expressing these values in an interview shows the recruiter you understand the core and nature of the company. 

 

  • Practice beforehand:

As this is likely to be your first graduate interview, we always recommend practising beforehand. This is a great way to test your company’s knowledge, the role, and to see which of the common interview questions you need to work on further. Remember: Practice makes perfect! The more questions you practice, the better! 

 

If you need some assistance, consider reaching out to a friend or family member and ask them to test you via FaceTime, Zoom, or any app you prefer. Afterwards, remember to ask for some feedback on how you did and develop the best strategy based on what you hear. 

 

Depending on your industry and the company you are interviewing with, it’s likely that the interviewer will ask some industry-specific questions, but as long as you do your research on key topics and trends, you should be ready to answer almost every question that pops up!  Here are some tough interview questions that you can check out to help you with preparation.  

 

  • Find out what to wear:

First impressions count, so it’s important to look professional for your interview. The interviewer needs to be able to picture you in the role you applied to. Hence, take this preparation time to find out what the company dress code is but if you cannot find any information, a simple shirt/camise paired with trousers and a blazer is always a safe option. 

 

If your first graduate interview happens to be online, it’s still important to dress professionally. Although it may seem more casual due to the circumstances, you still need to represent yourself in a professional and approachable manner. 

 

Avoid any clothing with rude slogans, rips or inappropriate cuts. The dress code will depend entirely on the company culture and industry, but for (corporate) interviews, wearing general formal wear is highly recommended. Aim to stay away from athleisure clothing, even if you think it looks more professional than your day-to-day sweatpants. If you are given the opportunity, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter for advice on the dress code beforehand!

 

  • Make sure you arrive on time:

To ensure that you make a good first impression, one of the most important things you need to do is plan how you are going to get to the interview. This is not the university anymore - employers might not approach tardiness as leniently as some of your professors might have!

 

Planning your journey will hopefully prevent any mishaps from happening on your way to it. One way to do so is to Google the recommended route and decide on your method of transport. You can then analyse how long the journey usually takes at that exact time and allow yourself extra time for any sudden delays and unforeseen situations. 

 

For those of you attending a remote interview, one of the main advantages is that you do not have to physically travel to the interview, but it’s still extremely important to be on time. In addition, assure your computer or laptop is ready, check your internet connection and double-check you’re in a quiet environment. 

Step 2 - What to bring to your graduate interview

The recruiter will usually clarify if they want you to bring anything specific with you, such as your portfolio. However,  if they don’t clarify this beforehand, you can avoid any awkward situations by bringing the following essential items:

 

  • Copy of your CV: 

Arriving at your interview with a copy of your CV is always a great way to show off your organisational skills to the recruiter. Even if they already have a copy of your CV, just showing that you brought a copy for them is enough to impress them.

Extra tip: Sometimes it's a good idea to print off a copy for yourself as well so that you can quickly glance over your CV during the interview. This way you can make sure that you didn’t forget to mention anything important. 

 

  • Identification:

The recruiter will usually tell you if you need to bring your ID or any other documents with you. Some companies request it at the entrance for security reasons, while others to see if you are eligible to work. Even if they haven't asked, it's beneficial to take it along with you just in case. 

Extra tip: It's always handy to have your ID or at least a copy of it spare if you need to fill out job applications or other documents in the interview. For instance, some forms may require your passport number. 

 

  • Bottle of water: 

When attending an interview, it's always good to have a bottle of water nearby, as you never know when you might get the syndrome of a nervous dry mouth. Unfortunately, dry mouth is more common than it seems during interviews and stressful situations. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Extra tip: Sipping from your water bottle between responses can also help to prevent any silences between questions and your responses, it will also give you a few seconds to think over what you are about to say! 

 

  • Notebook and pens:

Bring a notebook and a couple of pens with you to take notes throughout the interview. Why? Interviews can be particularly stressful situations and taking some quick notes can help you to remember the most important details that are mentioned. 

Extra tip: Although it’s good to take some notes, don’t write down every single thing the recruiter said to you. It’s important to keep engaging with the interviewers whilst maintaining eye contact and good body language. Aim to write keywords that will trigger the memory instead of sentences - your attention needs to be on the recruiter, not the note-taking process.

 

  • Bag or Briefcase:

Bring a briefcase or bag with you to keep your documents neat and well presented. It will look extremely unprofessional if you hand over a creased CV to the recruiter so keep everything neat and professional. 

Extra tip: Make sure your bag or suitcase is small and professional-looking. Remember, first impressions count, so keep it simple.

 

  • Printed directions: 

This applies to those of you who are attending an interview in a location that you are unfamiliar with. If you suddenly experience some technical difficulties and you are unable to find the location on your phone, at least you can find your way there the traditional way. 

Extra tip: Even try the journey beforehand to make sure everything goes smoothly and so that you arrive without any complications. It will help you if you tend to be anxious in situations similar to this.

 

  • Questions:

After you’ve done company research, you may have some extra questions you would like to ask and it's always a good idea to arrive with your questions already prepared. This gives you one less thing to think about during the interview and will help you to end on a good note!

 

It’s important to engage with the interviewer by asking questions; it helps you to appear interested, engaged and prepared! This is also a great time to ask questions related to the position you applied to, especially if there is a task that seems unclear to you.

 

Extra tip: Make sure you listen throughout the interview, the worst thing you can do is ask a question about something they have already covered during the interview.

Step 3: During the interview - Your time to shine!

Now that we have covered all of the essential preparation tips, you will soon be ready to enter your first graduate interview feeling confident and ready to shine!

 

Even if you are the perfect match for the job on paper, you need to ensure that you perform the best you can during the interview to show the recruiter that you are the right fit for the job, no stress.

 

Your performance during the interview is judged in a variety of ways: from how you present yourself to how you engage with the interviewer, the answers you provide for each question, the language you use, and the questions you ask! This may seem like a lot, but as long as you are aware of how you should act during your interview, you will be on your way to success.

 

  • Body language:

Recruiters are experts in reading people without them even speaking, so you need to ensure that you portray good body language. Avoid slouching and do your best to maintain eye contact throughout the interview; make sure to never cross your hands in front of your chest as that automatically will be interpreted as a bad sign.

 

Remember to smile to express confidence and to keep any hand gestures and fidgeting to a minimum, albeit using your hands for specific words/sentences, such as listing attributes, will increase your amiable nature. At the end of the day, make sure the attention is on you and your amazing answers.

 

  • Engage:

Try to keep the interview balanced by engaging with the interviewer throughout. Ask questions to find out the key things that you want to know and try to make conversation. However, bear in mind you are not the interviewer, so asking too many questions can be off-putting; keep them to a minimum during the interview and leave the rest for the end. 

 

Address the interviewer by their name, listen carefully to what they are saying, and do your best to show off your company knowledge in your answers to demonstrate your motivation towards the job and the company. Additionally, try to connect the company's values to your own since most organizations enjoy seeing that correlation. 

 

  • Be polite:

At the end of the interview, make sure that you thank the recruiter for their time and ask when you should be expecting a response from them. This is so important and will hopefully win you some bonus points, and show you are eager to hear back from them.

 

Employers want to hire people who are polite and friendly and can represent their company in a positive light, so this is a MUST! If appropriate, offer a handshake too, although this is not the best advice at this moment in time, it may be again in the future. 

Step 4: How to follow up

To prove that you are genuinely grateful for their time, it's beneficial to send a thank you email 1 or 2 days after the interview. Luckily for you, only 43% of job seekers send a thank you note to employers. This is a simple, yet effective way to stand out against the other job seekers by taking your time to write a thank-you note that will impress the recruiter. 

 

Here is an example of a thank you note that you can send after your interview: 

 

"Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of (add title) on (add day). I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you, meeting other members of the team, and learning more about the job role and company. I am extremely interested in this role and the opportunity to become a part of your mission."

 

We hope you feel enlightened by our job interview tips and know how to prepare for a graduate interview! In case of despair, follow the advice to secure your dream job straight out of university! As long as you are prepared, engaged, qualified, and show off your motivation & desire for the job, you should be on your way to a winning interview!

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