As a recent graduate myself, I was asked to sit in on an interview for a position in our team. Here’s what I learned from sitting on the other side of the table for the first time.
The interviewers want you to do well
For some reason, we build up interviewers in our heads to be terrifying Alan Sugar types, starting into our souls over a gleaming conference room table. (That may just be me). However, what I could glean from being part of the interviewing team is that no-one wants you to mess up. You made it to the interview; they want to meet you. Remind yourself of that and it should make you feel a little less nervous.
Being prepared is important
I cannot stress this enough: do your research. If you’re asking us what we do, that’s a bad sign. Companies want to hire people who are interested in what they do, as well as someone who will go out of their way to research the company beforehand. It's a no brainer.
Real life examples are key
You can say you are the most motivated individual in the world, but those are just words coming out of your face – how can we know they’re true? Select a couple of examples from your life - be they in previous work environments, university, or even your personal life - and keep them at the forefront of your mind. As long as it shows a certain quality or experience, examples are the holy grail of interviews.
READ MORE: How to spot the right graduate internships
Don’t talk too much or too little
When people are nervous or under pressure, it can bring out babblers or hermits in us. If you’re worried that you get a little quiet in interviews, don’t feel bad about taking a notebook as a prompt. And if you’re a chatty kinda nervous, take breaks or a sip of water every few minutes. It will give you an indication as to whether the interviewers want to move on to the next question or hear more.
If you don’t understand the question, ask them to reiterate
You’re nervous, which means your mind is probably going a mile a minute. If you’ve immediately forgotten a question that was just asked, or are just not sure what they’re really looking for in an answer, try and ask them to frame the question differently or to expand on the question. Not only will this give you more of an understanding, you'll get valuable extra seconds to think of an answer!
Ask questions at the end of the interview
The candidates that really stood out were the ones who asked intelligent questions related to the role or company. Is the role task based or account based? Is there much room for professional development? If so, what are they?
Bring stuff to the interview
I would always bring things to my interviews, from my dissertation portfolio to ideas for the company, like a list of blog post ideas for their site. This shows initiative, more evidence that what you’re saying is true and might make you stand out from the rest. (I once took about 70 pages worth of research and ideas to a job I really wanted but didn’t have a lot of working experience for. I got the job.)
READ MORE: 6 reasons to hire a graduate intern
Show your enthusiasm in a way that works for you
If looks could kill, my bitchy resting face could probably kill a kitten. Some of us are naturally better talkers or charmers than others, but this shouldn't stand in the way of you getting a job you deserve. You can show enthusiasm in other ways (see: 70 page research I brought to an interview), or even just being smiley and making (appropriate) jokes. It may even be as simple as saying "I'm nervous, but that's because I'm so excited about this role!" or mentioning that you're weakness is that you often undersell yourself.
At CoSector - University of London, we offer a recruitment service aimed at helping students and graduates find jobs in their preferred industry.