Recent Graduates: How to Prepare for Interviews

Interviews can sometimes feel very daunting, especially for those that haven’t had a huge amount of experience in this area.

Walking in to your first interview can be an intimidating situation. Whether your interview is face to face, online or on the phone, we’ll get you prepped and ready to impress any organisation.

How to prepare for an interview

Research is key 

Look up on LinkedIn/socials and the company website to find information about projects they are involved in, their values, any press coverage and any blogs/articles written by staff. 

Often, companies will ask, “why do you want to work for us?” Understanding the company in detail will allow you to answer this really well and reassure the company you want to work for them, and you’re not just applying for anything. It also shows your dedication to your job search and your ability to prepare. Finally, preparation will make you feel confident, which is key to success. 

Study the job spec

Go through the job spec with a fine-tooth comb and make sure are confidently able to answer the question, “what is your understanding of the job role?” Make notes next to the responsibilities section of which areas you have experience in (with good examples for each) or if you haven’t done that specific responsibility previously, how your transferrable skills would help you. 

Basically, you want to write down any parts of your own experience/CV or things about yourself that come to mind that you know demonstrate you have something to offer that directly relates to each point. You can take the notes with you or refer back for inspiration when asked about the job spec. 

Practice competency-based questions

Competency based questions will ask you to describe a time you have achieved something in particular. As an example, they may say “Can you tell me about a time you’ve had to deal with a tricky customer?” The best way to approach these questions is by Using the STAR method

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action Result. 

Situation: What was the situation surrounding the example you’re using? 

Task: What was it that you had to do? 

Action: What did you do to get the task done? 

Result: What was the outcome of your actions and what was achieved? 

Using this format means your answer will be structured, concise and not rumbly. If a question takes you a little left field, give yourself a minute to think of a great example rather than panicking. 

Tell the interviewer, “let me have a second to think of an example” and formulate your response. Why not grab a family member or friend to practice these questions on and get their feedback, you can find lots of examples of competency based questions online.

How to prepare for an interview pdf

Preparing interview questions

Prepare questions of your own. Interviewers pay attention to the questions you ask so make sure they are informed and show your engagement. Questions will also allow you to uncover more about the organisation to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Make sure it’s not something that’s already been covered early in the interview, as this won’t look good.

Good questions to ask could be: 

“Are there any areas of the role you feel I would struggle with?” 

“Can you tell me about the company culture?” 

“What would progression look like in this role?” 

“What’s your favourite thing about working here?” 

“what do you think are the most important qualities for someone to succeed in this role?” 

And at the very end, “What are the next steps?”

good interview questions

How to have a successful first interview

Plan out the day. Always double-check the time and the date, and consider the following:

  • If the interview is in person, how will you get to the office?
  • You’ll need to arrive ten minutes early, so make sure you account for that.
  • You’ll need to dress to impress, so get the outfit out ready.
  • Make sure you have your notes and a pen with you.
  • If your interview is on the phone, make sure you are in a quiet room with no distractions (and nobody coming in), good signal and a glass of water nearby.
  • If your interview is online, find a good location where nobody will come in and you have a nice neutral background.
  • Make sure the space is clean and tidy and there is nothing embarrassing around and not too dark.
  • You’ll also want to test the software in case of any glitches, and log in earlier to the time to make sure you can connect.
  • For face-to-face or online interviews, make sure your phone is off or on silent.

Don’t forget to stay calm. During your preparation and getting to the interview, try and remain calm and composed. You have done everything you can to be successful so focus on you. Exercise, eat a good breakfast, whatever will make you feel ready for the day and prepared to take on the interview process. 

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