Posted: 2nd of August 2013
You’ve left school and applied for a new role and been invited to attend an interview – what next?
The first thing to consider is how dedicated you are to the role. There’s little point preparing for and attending an interview if you’re not that keen. This is your future and you should be enthusiastic and excited!
Once you’ve committed to the role and have a pending or scheduled interview, make sure you have enough time to prepare. To help you, we’ve put together a ‘quick fire’ guide with interview tips for school leavers.
Before the interview
- Do your research – familiarise yourself with the firm you’re applying to and understand the job profile. Consider why you would like to work for them. What do you know about them? Review the website in detail and ensure you know about the industry and not just the firm.
- Consider your motivations – why did you apply for the role? What are your long term goals? Why are you looking to leave your current role? These are common interview questions so it helps to ensure you have answers ready.
- Confirm the interview details – know when, where, how long and with whom the interview will be. Search online e.g.: Google / Linked In. Your interviewer may have a profile and you can learn about them in advance.
- Plan your route - check for transport closures, road works etc. Allow extra time for transport delays – if you’re very early take some time to compose yourself, perhaps grab a coffee at a local coffee shop and take a few moments for final preparation.
- Dress code – consider if the organisation you’re applying to will have a dress code and always ensure you dress accordingly.
- Prepare requested documentation – ensure you take with you any pre-requested documentation. Interviewees are often asked to provide their passport, professional qualification certification etc.
- Check the format of the interview – will it be competency based or involve a presentation or technical tests? Also consider the stage of the interview, as first and second interviews may focus on different requirements.
- Know yourself, skills and experience - remember your CV, educational background, professional qualifications and career history – you will be asked about these areas. Consider how your skills and experience are relevant for the role you’re applying to, and how you can best demonstrate them at interview.
- Prepare your own interview questions – for example, what do you want to know about the role, the team, the organisation, culture, clients, future plans.
- Revise– consider the type of questions you expect to be asked and practice your responses.
- CBI- familiarise yourself with competency based interviewing (CBI), a common technique used for interviewing.
- CBI is used to examine how candidates previously reacted or behaved in specific situations
- This provides interviewers with evidence that you may/may not have the exposure required for the role
- It also serves as an indication as to how you may behave in a variety of situations in the future.
- You’re a STAR – familiarise yourself with the STAR technique used with competency based interviews. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This means you will be asked to recall your past experience to,
- describe the Situation,
- recount a specific Task, event or activity
- discuss your own Action or reaction to the event of situation
- highlight the Result of your actions
- Practice your responses to potential questions using this method.
On the day
The interview day has arrived. You’ll usually have around an hour to impress and be impressed. Remember that the interview goes both ways – while they assess you as a potential employee, you are also assessing them as a potential employer.
An interview can typically be broken down into the following three areas.
- Know your host - ensure you ask for the right person at reception. If you’re offered, accept the invitation of hanging your coat up or storing excess bags away.
- No interruptions - switch your mobile / blackberry / ipad (etc) off before you enter the building. You don’t want any distractions during the interview.
- Make a great first impression - meet and greet your host with a firm handshake and a smile.
- Relax- try to relax and be yourself. It’s important to let your personality shine through.
- Refreshments – it may help calm your nerves if you accept a glass of water.
- Understand the questions– ensure you understand the questions. Answer the question asked and if you’re not clear on what they are looking for, ask your interviewer to clarify the question. When structuring your response, provide enough information, but ensure you don’t waffle or go off track.
- Be honest - if you can’t answer a question, perhaps due to technical content or not having direct experience, say so. Potential employers respect honesty. It’s not always a bad thing to be short of experience.
- Consider body language – Body language can say a lot. Remember the following;
- retain eye contact
- include all interviewers in the conversation
- try not to ‘talk’ too much with your hands
- nod and smile to show interest.
- Ensure you’ve asked all your questions – now’s the time to make certain you have enough information to ensure you can determine if you would accept the position offered.
- Express your interest in the role - assuming that’s the case of course. Ask what the next stage will be.
- Thank everyone for their time -say goodbye, shake the interviewer/s hand and tell them you look forward to hearing from them.
After the interview
- Review the process – Evaluating how you did will help with future interviews. Consider what questions you were asked, if you answered them as best as you could? Would you answer the questions differently if asked again?
- Consider what next – would you want to attend a 2nd interview? Why? If offered the role, would you accept the position? Why? Now you’ve met the firm/organisation and potential work colleagues, can you see yourself working there? Do you want to build a career with the firm/organisation? What can you offer them in return?
- Establish the outcome – contact the relevant sources to establish the result of the interview and respond accordingly.
Interviewing can be a stressful experience, but taking the time to prepare will help you remain calm and professional on the day. Remember, this is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are the best candidate the interviewers will meet, and no matter that you are fresh out of the school environment, you are ready to take on the world or work.
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