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Congratulations! You’ve gotten over the first hurdle and made it through to a face to face interview. That means your potential employer already likes the look of your graduate CV, so you can go in relatively confident.
But how do you best prepare, and make sure that you stand out from the crowd in a good way? Your CV will only get you so far – you need to impress them with your conversation and personality.
My background is in science PR and I’m currently a Comms Consultant on the STEM team at TopLine Comms, a B2B PR agency. I’ve been on both sides of the interview process - so thought I would share with you what employers are looking for in your face to face interview.
The face to face interview is when the employer will decide if they think you’re right for the job, and the right fit within their company. But it’s also a chance for you to decide if you think you would want to work for their company.
A face to face interview is the perfect opportunity for you to show off your communication skills. Employers will be looking out for what you say, but also how well you answer their questions and how you communicate your response.
Make sure you speak clearly and try not to go off on tangents about things that aren’t relevant. You want to convey enthusiasm, sound upbeat and keen on the job role that’s being offered.
This one sounds obvious; but it’s surprising how many people neglect to do this. Make sure you’ve read through the company’s website and have a few snippets of information about it ready to drop into the conversation – this might be case studies that you really liked or a particular blog that resonated with you.
Not only does this show that you’re proactive, but it also shows that you really are interested in what the company does (and you’re not just applying to get any old job). It’s also a good idea to research the employer too, so don’t be scared to look them up on LinkedIn.
Make sure that you’ve also read the job description a number of times, and try to mention the requirements in your answers as much as possible.
You can almost guarantee that you’ll be given some situation-based competency interview questions, like ‘tell me about a time you had to deal with a stressful situation’.
These questions are your chance to shine and prove that you are suitable for the job, based on experience and skills you have gained in previous graduate jobs or through your education.
Make sure you prepare some examples for these sorts of questions and have some experiences to hand that you can talk about. For example, if you worked part-time while at university in a restaurant, you could talk about when you had to deal with stressful busy times in the restaurant and what you did to ensure full customer satisfaction.
As a rule, don’t ever say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘pass’.
At the end of a graduate job interview, an employer will always ask "Do you have any questions for me?" Your answer should always be ‘yes’ and you should always ask at least three questions. Some good questions to keep in your back pocket include:
As a general rule, avoid asking basic questions like ‘Can I wear what I want to work?’, ‘What does your company do?’ and ‘How long until I’m promoted?’.
Unless an interviewer tells you that it’s okay to dress casually for an interview, you should always make sure that you’re dressed smartly. This is the first time that an interviewer will see you, and you want to make the right impression.
Looking sloppy or like you haven’t made any effort will give the wrong impression straight away. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just an outfit that looks clean, smart and tidy. You only need one outfit that you can wear to any graduate job interview.
You’ve made it this far because the company likes you and your experience, so it’s really important to be yourself.
It might also be the only time you meet those in the company face to face before starting the job, so you want them to buy into the authentic version of you, rather than a fake, interview-only version.
Then, if you don’t get on, you know it’s not going to be the right job for you anyway - and there are plenty of other graduate jobs out there.
Face to face interviews don’t have to be stressful. Remember, the employer wants to impress you as much as you want to impress them. Go in confident and remember the tips above and you’ll be in a good chance of getting the job. Good luck in your graduate job search!
This article was written by Jodie Brazier, Comms Consultant at TopLine Comms.