If you are invited to interview it means that ‘on paper’ you seem like a good fit for the role and the potential employer would like to validate this by finding out a bit more about you. An interview also provides you with the opportunity to evaluate whether the organisation and role are right for you. In the sections below you will find a wealth of information to help you prepare for interview.
We run interview preparation workshops throughout the academic year. Check out CareersConnect for upcoming dates. You can also do a practise video interview using our SONRU platform and get feedback from a Career & Skills Consultant on your performance. To book a video interview either pop in to the Careers Network or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure you watch our “5 minutes on Interviews” video for lots of great tips on how to succeed at interview!
There are several different types of interviews used in graduate recruitment. These include:
You will be asked to give examples of times when you demonstrated the competencies/skills that the employer is seeking. For example: “Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team to achieve a challenging goal”.
It is important that you give clear, specific examples, structured using the STAR technique:
Remember to use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ when describing actions that you took. The interviewer needs to be clear on what your specific role was.
If you have applied for a job that requires technical knowledge it is likely that you will be asked technical questions or have a separate interview to test this knowledge. Make sure you are up to speed on relevant technologies, programming languages, operating systems etc. The person interviewing you is likely to have strong technical expertise so it’s best not to try to “bluff” your way through it.
If the role is within the arts, media or communication industries, then you may be asked to bring a portfolio of your work to the interview, around which the interview will revolve.
Preparation is essential to successful performance at interview. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. It is vital that you research the job and the organisation thoroughly, using all available resources (for example the company website, annual reports, strategy documents, Linkedin, Google News search etc). Anticipate possible questions, particularly those relating to the skills and knowledge sought; consider how you will respond to these and what evidence you can provide to convey your suitability.
Find out who will interview you, the length of the interview, and if tests or other selection methods will be used. Before the interview, make sure you read through your copy of the application form or CV that accompanied your job application – be clear on what you wrote as you may be asked to elaborate further at interview.
First impressions count; how you perform in the first few minutes of an interview is crucial - a strong firm handshake creates a positive impression.
Dress appropriately; you should aim to convey an image of professionalism and competence. You are likely to feel nervous but don’t forget to smile and make good eye contact. Your position seated says as much as your position standing; adopt an alert, open receptive posture - don’t slouch or fidget.
Listen carefully to the questions you are asked - pause to give yourself time to compose an answer that is concise, clear and relevant. If you have not heard / not understood a question politely ask your interviewer to repeat it.
Generally speaking, an interview is not a place to open up negotiations on salary or terms and conditions.
Employers’ questions vary but typically revolve around three main areas:
Some common interview questions include:
gradireland lists some other typical interview questions and how to answer them.
At the end of your interview, you will probably be given the opportunity to ask some questions of your own. These will depend on the course of the interview but here are a few possibilities:
You should prepare as carefully for a telephone, Skype or video interview as for a face-to-face interview and many of the same principles apply. For example, research the job and the organisation; consider questions likely to arise and how you would answer them etc.
Here are our top tips for performing successfully on a telephone, Skype or video interview: