We are sure when you started university and throughout your studies you will have taken every opportunity at your fingertips, taken on roles of responsibility including any work experience that gives you that edge over your competitors.When you are in your final year at university, you should be applying for roles, schemes and preparing yourself for the place of work. Although your recent accomplishments will help you in starting a career, you must keep in mind that the current job market is extremely competitive. There are thousands of graduates hunting for the perfect role or GRADUATE training scheme. So how do you get the competitive edge over the other graduates who are being interviewed and assessed for the same job? If you follow these steps you’ll be guaranteed to make a successful impact during the interview process.
Your Online Profile
Before you even start applying for roles you need to ensure that your online profile is professional, up to date and if you are using certain social media sites including facebook.... you have privacy settings. Many companies will use your online presence as a way of deciding if they want to invite you for an interview. Start by ensuring you have a presence on LinkedIn in but remember make it relevant and true to your cv.
Before even attending an interview you need to prepare and research into the company, the role and think DRESS CODE!
With such a lot of company and Director information available on the internet, companies expect you to have researched into their business, who works for them, their products and services, their competitors and fully understand who they are, this includes getting a feel for their culture. Along with company research you also need to ensure you have read through the details of the role, understood what the key tasks and skills are so you can start to prepare questions and understand how you are going to sell yourself to the interviewer/s. You need to demonstrate that you are the ideal fit and there may be many things not on your CV that could really add value to the role and put you ahead as the chosen candidate.
Although it is rare in this day and age, if a company does not have a website you must still make sure you learn about the industry they operate in so at least you can demonstrate your research skills. Use your local or university library and speak to the people around you, they may have company or industry knowledge that will help you.But remember to make your own mind up about a company, sometimes someone elses experience can shadow your feelings..... make your own mind up.
If you are working with an agency they will be able to provide you with a breakdown of the company history and also assist you with interview preparation, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.But if working with an agency ensure you keep them updated and be honest about other applications you have and stages you are at. Your consultant will work on your behalf but there needs to be open honesty for this to happen.
Before attending an interview, remember to find out whether it will be an assessment interview, competency based, panel interview or just one on one as well as finding out their process and if testing will be part of the interview. Remember it’s all part of the preparation. No one expects you to attend an interview without being able to prepare fully, so dont be afraid to ask.
What to take with you
It is always a good idea to take examples of your work from university, ie your dissertation or a project you excelled in and is relevant to the role or graduate scheme. Anything you take with you must be presented professionally and you must be prepared to answer questions based on your work. Neve take someone elses work and try and pass it off as your own, this will not help you if you get the role based on someone elses talent, stay tru to yourself.
Most companies will expect you to take a full CV. This must be free of errors, presented clearly and identify you as a candidate who matches their person specification. Don’t fall down by having your CV state you are looking for a Graduate Marketing role when you are attending an interview for a Graduate Accounts Scheme.
Some companies will also ask you to bring your degree certificate, transcript - this is clearly if you have already had your graduation ceremony
A Level certificates to prove UCAS points
Photo ID with you.
It’s always a good idea to take details of who is interviewing you, a job description and person specification they have provided with you and a map of how to find them. It’s amazing what you can sometimes forget when under duress, so prepare all of this the night before the interview. Make sure you have planned your journey well in advance, especially if it is winter time and there may be delays. Being late is NEVER acceptable.
Interviews are a time to impress and show a potential employer that you really want their job. Shabby clothes and shoes just don’t cut it. You need to dress to impress, make sure shoes are highly polished, everything is clean, head to toe!! Remember if you are going for a role or scheme in the corporate world you will have to dress appropriately and the same goes if you are going to work in the creative field.
Make Sure you arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Please do not turn up for the interview 1 hour early. Even if you find the business early, go and find a coffee shop and go back when it is nearer your interview time. Turning up too early for an appointment will make your interviewer feel very uncomfortable and is not a good start.
During the Interview
- Make sure you give the interviewer your full attention
- Be friendly and acknowledge their questions and answers throughout the interview
- Wait for them to finish speaking, before you answer the question
- Make sure you ask open questions, to ensure you get full answers
- Check you understand everything that has been said
- Check you understand when a decision will be made
- Ensure the interviewer knows of your interest in the role
- Thank them for their time at the end
After the interview
- If you get offered the position or the place on the training scheme then well done. Remember many graduates do not get the first position they are interviewed for.
- If you don’t get the job ask for feedback. If you have applied through an agency they will be able to provide you with reasons for your unsuccessful interview.
- If you have applied direct, contact the interviewer and ask for feedback. You must remain professional and ask in a positive manner. Most interviewers will be more than happy to provide you with feedback.