Interview Tips for Students
Whether you’re searching for a part-time job, something to keep you busy over the summer or for your dream job after graduation, it can’t help to brush up on a few interview tips.
Some people breeze through interviews, whereas others can get nervous and not come off so well, regardless of their skill or suitability for the job. When you attend an interview, you want to show yourself in the best possible light. Read on to find out how your can prepare before an interview, as well as how to conduct yourself during the big event.
What employees are looking for
While different employers will be looking for different things, there are a few pointers that all interviewers will be looking out for, whatever the role is. On the whole, most employers are looking for:
Skills and Experience – While you don’t have to have experience in the job you’re applying for, it certainly helps. If you don’t have experience, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have the skills to do it anyway. This all boils down to potential – show an employer that you’re able to do the job, and that’s a big step in the right direction.
Professionalism – While a professional attitude is more important when applying for a full-time, career-orientated role than for a part-time gig at a fast food restaurant, all employers want to see some level of professionalism. You don’t have to be too serious, just show that you take the job seriously. No employer wants the impression that you think the job is a joke, even if it’s just flipping burgers.
Real, Honest Staff – At the end of the day, a job is never just a job – colleagues will become friends, share interests and chat together about the weekend. An interviewer wants to see a bit of your human side, to see that you will be a pleasure to work with, a nice person to be around and a fun addition to their team. You don’t need to be word-perfect or robotic – if appropriate, jokes and laughs have their place in interviews too. Show that you’re not just a great employee, but a great person too.
How to prepare for an interview
Prior to an interview, there are things you can do which will put you in good standing before the big day. Some are long-term plans more akin to a future career, whereas others require just a few minutes of preparation:
- Get experience. If you are aiming for a certain career when you graduate, what can you be doing to prepare now? Is there voluntary experience or internships you can do that will look great on your CV?
- Do your homework. Research the company – find out a few facts such as when it opened, and what it’s ethos and goals are.
- What questions are you likely to be asked in the interview? Think of a few… and prepare answers in advance.
- How will you best demonstrate your skills? What experience do you have to draw on, and talk about, in your interview?
- Prepare your interview outfit – how smart do you need to be? Is your best shirt washed and ironed?
- Get a good night’s sleep – you want to look fresh and attentive on the day of your interview!
- Get a healthy breakfast and don’t overdo it on the caffeine.
- Make sure that you look neat and smart regardless of what you’re wearing, and that your hair, face and hands are clean.
- If you’re really nervous, ask a friend to do a practice interview with you – sit at a table, put on your formal clothes, and ask them to run through questions with you.
What to do in an interview
How you conduct yourself in the interview will be the first face-to-face impression an employee has of you, and will be what they remember you for. If you’re not a confident person, it’s important to pay attention to these details so that you show yourself in the best light.
- Make eye contact
- Sit up straight
- Don’t fidget
- Speak clearly, at a good steady pace, and think about what you’re saying before you open your mouth – don’t rush!
- Try not to use fillers such as ‘umm’ or ‘err’
- Show that you’re listening by nodding, when appropriate, to what the interviewer says
- Be positive – don’t moan about how rubbish your last job was or be negative about the potential role
- Smile – even if you’re nervous, try to look like you’re enjoying yourself
- Don’t panic if you make a mistake – the interviewer is human, too
- If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t lie or try to bluff it. The interviewer will see right through it
- Don’t be cocky – give the impression that you really want the job and that you’ll do it well, but not that you think you already have it in the bag
- Remember to ask questions – show an interest, and show that you still have things to learn
What to do after an interview
Once you’ve had your interview, there are a few things you can do to further secure your chances of employment:
- Shake the interviewer’s hand as you leave, and thank them for having the opportunity to speak with them
- Tell them that you’ve enjoyed the interview, or enjoyed meeting them, or found it interesting to learn more about the role
- Follow up the next day with an email, thanking them for giving you the opportunity to speak with them, and invite them to get in contact if they have any further questions
- Remember to use phrases like ‘send me a message at your convenience’ so you don’t come across as pushy
- Sign off with a positive phrase such as ‘I’m looking forward to hearing from you’
- If you don’t hear back within a week or two, call them up – be pleasant and inquisitive, and ask if they are still interviewing potential candidates. Use the phrase ‘I’m calling to inquire as to whether there ___ position has been filled / is still open’
Whatever job you’re going for, your chances of success will be so much higher if you prepare and do your research. For more tips on interview do’s and don’ts, take a look at this list from The Telegraph (https://jobs.telegraph.co.uk/article/50-best-interview-tips).
For a comprehensive guide on potential questions (and answers) as well as psychometric tests and exercises, visit https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/interview-tips
Finally… good luck!