Interview Hints and Tips
Here at e-Placement Scotland we don't just want to let you know about placements, we want to help you get them. So once you have the perfect Cover Letter and CV, it is time for the hard part… being successful at the interview. Below are some helpful hints and tips which will help you be more confident at interview. Don't forget to also read our page on confidence building.
Employer feedback for unsuccessful students
Many students lacked in confidence whilst being interviewed
Many students struggled to demonstrate their own ability and did not use examples.
Students did not display evidence of their contribution in many instances.
Many students displayed poor communication skills.
Little or no evidence of research into the company prior to interview.
Poor Timekeeping. You cannot be late for an interview.
Poor Personal Presentation.
So how do we combat this?
You should always be as prepared as possible before attending interview.
The first thing to remember about getting prepared for an interview is to ask questions at the time the interview is being set up.
When you get a call to set up an interview you’re probably pretty excited. Most people write down the when and the where but don’t ask any questions about the interview.
If you ask a few questions of the company representative on the phone you’ll be better prepared to do well in the interview.
A few questions you may wish to consider
Who will be conducting the interview (name and title)?
Is this the direct supervisor for this position?
Will anyone else be involved in the interview (and if so, their names and titles)?
Do I need to bring anything with me to the interview (like reference letters, work samples, drawings, etc.)?
Approximately how long will the interview take (if you’re interviewing before work or on your lunch hour)?
Will I be expected to take any tests (for measurable skills, personality inventories, etc.)?
The questions you ask will help to prepare you for your interview. It would be unnerving to go into an interview expecting to speak with one person and find yourself across from five interviewers. Asking a few questions will help you be on top of your game when you go in for the interview.
Displaying confidence in an interview is arguably the most important area to work on. Many employers will view how you react in this situation as a test of how you will perform in their company. Can you communicate effectively? Can you work under pressure? Can you sell yourself?
Employers want to know who you are and what you contributed. If you were involved in a group project, what did you contribute to that work? This allows them to decide whether you will fit into their team and contribute effectively to their business. Employers have your CV; now they want to meet the real you and get a feel for what you have done and where you are going. Where you say you have x technical skill, through questioning you, they want you to give examples in either work or your studies where you have used or applied these skills.
You cannot be late for an interview. Employers will see this as a red flag instantly and first impressions steer the rest of the interview. Research in advance where the interview is taking place, plan how you are going to get there and always allow time to be early and take a breather to calm your nerves.
Think about your answers before you speak. Whilst you will never know for sure what an employer will ask in an interview situation you can prepare in advance. Have in your mind relevant examples of where you have used your skills, examples of challenging situations, examples of success. Almost all employers will want to find out what you are capable of so its easy to pre-empt what they are likely to ask by being prepared!
Research the company
Employers want to see students who have a thirst for their industry, students who are the stars of tomorrow, and ultimately students who want to work for them. Research the company websites, check out the press, look at their competitors, and keep up to date with industry news. This is what could set you apart from the competition. At the very least you should google the company to find out what their primary function is. Remember a common interview question is “why do you want to work with us?” How can you answer this question well if you know nothing about the company.
Ask about future prospects
Many students didn’t enquire about future prospects within the company. Employers want to see students who are proactive, students who care about their career prospects and have some direction about what they want to do.
The old cliché first impressions count really is true if you turn up to an interview scruffy and offer a limp handshake that says to an employer you are not serious about the role. Always dress smart for an interview and if an employer offers to shake your hand show commitment and enthusiasm.
Leave a lasting impression
Finally - try to enjoy your interview. If you look as it you are going to enjoy the experience you will send out the right signals. At the end finish confidently with a smile and avoid any apologetic comments even if it hasn’t all gone according to plan. If you don’t draw attention to these things they are less likely to be noticed.
Check out our example CV as a great place to start bringing your CV into 2016. And remember, please do make sure you talk to your Careers Service for advice on your CV.