THE WINNING INTERVIEW GUIDE This guide is based on cumulative experience and feedback from company managers. YINI students rarely fail an interview on academic ability but lack of preparation is a common fault and one that can easily be addressed, so please read these notes carefully!
PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION!
Check out the company web site and job profile. Re-read your CV before the interview.
Ensure you research their web site thoroughly and ask questions at the interview. Think about how your skills and academic knowledge fit in with their company / environment etc and be prepared to talk about them.
Think about the questions you may be asked and write down some questions to ask the interviewer – this demonstrates enthusiasm.
NB: Lack of research (on the company particularly) is a very common complaint from interviewers and it costs otherwise excellent candidates job offers every year!
ON THE DAY Dress appropriately and smartly. If in doubt, dress conservatively – try not to stand out too much! NO casual wear or trainers!
Lads – polished shoes, shirt and tie, jacket if you have one or a suit. Avoid bulky coats or comedy ties. Girls – as above avoiding short skirts keeping make up to minimum. Generally if you wear it for clubbing, it is probably not right. Check all clean and ironed night before.
DO NOT BE LATE! Know where you are going (check your route) and allow yourself plenty of time to get there. If you are delayed i.e. traffic – ring the company to explain.
Remember the interview starts from the moment you arrive on the company premises and doesn’t end until you leave. The receptionist/secretary may be asked for an opinion.
AT THE INTERVIEW
Take off your coat. Give a brief firm handshake and don’t be afraid to smile! You are pleased to be there; it’s an exciting opportunity.
Sit up straight and look at the interviewer.
Speak clearly, don’t fidget and be yourself.
Take a copy of your CV and record of achievement along, and use them as a memory jogger. Offer the interviewer a copy. (Take certificates of achievements your are proud of and examples of projects you have completed. NB: not a suitcase full or tatty carrier bag, but an A4 folder)
Be friendly, polite and enthusiastic. You need to let the interviewer know that you really want the job.
Ask questions about the placement and company. NB - This is not the time to ask about holiday entitlement and don’t mention salary unless this is mentioned by the interviewer first! These are details we can clarify at the point of offer.
Show interest and be positive.
Avoid yes/no answers but don’t waffle. Listen to the question and think before you speak. When the interview is coming to an end, thank the interviewer for seeing you. Re-state your interest and ask when decisions will be made. It is ok to do this; it shows you really are interested.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW If you are offered the job ask yourself whether you are genuinely excited about the prospect of working for the company for a year and talk to your Year In Industry contact. Do not wait several weeks before saying ‘no’. There may be another student who genuinely wants this job. Try to make your decision within a week of the offer being made.
If you are not offered the job Review you performance objectively with yourself and ask your YinI office for any useful feedback.
TYPICAL QUESTIONS FROM COMPANY INTERVIEWERS
Education Your predicted exam or module results; what you got out of school or university; your reasons for wanting to study your chosen course; you may be asked to talk about your academic interests and current knowledge. Be Prepared!
Interests/ activities How do you use your spare time? Activities you have organised; your interests and hobbies; what have you gained from these activities – i.e. Duke of Edinburgh, football/rugby team etc.
Work experience What did you learn? (Your list should include things like: developed team working & communication skills – things that employers value) Did you have to deal with any awkward people? (can you keep your cool and diffuse awkward situations or do you know when to involve a supervisor?) What aspects of the work did you enjoy most? Have you a part-time job – e.g. Saturday job?
What do you want out of life?
How would you sum up your strengths?
Why are you interested in this job? What other jobs are you applying for? Why should I employ you?
What can you offer the company? Have you any questions?
What are your weaknesses? NB: for this one, think of something you had a problem with but have already found a solution for.
When thinking about answers to these questions, remember to ask yourself why a company manager might ask you a given question and what kind of answers they will actually want to hear; essentially, they want to know if you will turn up every day, fit in with the team you will be working with, be proactive and ask questions when you need to, follow instructions and focus on the job in hand.
Most employers today will also want to see evidence of these core skills: communication; teamwork; initiative; innovation; problem solving and personal development. Think of personal examples where you have used or demonstrated these skills and incorporate them into the answers you give.
Company managers are looking for enthusiastic students who are genuinely interested in working for their company and learning as much as possible; are knowledgeable about their chosen study subject, beyond simply being able to pass exams; have a ‘can do attitude’ and are motivated by the desire to: learn; experience the working environment; inform their career choices and make a positive lasting impression on the company and colleagues when the placement is complete. Your answers to interview questions should reflect these qualities. Research and practice are essential.
THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE BUT IF YOU HAVE CONSIDERED ANSWERS FOR THESE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO IMPROVISE A RESPONSE TO MOST INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.
Please do contact your Regional YINI office (See contact page) if you would like to discuss your company interview. We will be delighted to help. You can also visit this useful link: http://www.careersbox.co.uk/where you can watch 3 short films to help you prepare for interviews (find the BT Level 1 Application and level 7 Interview techniques movie under the latest films listings).