The process of applying for jobs can be really tough. First and foremost, your CV needs to be word perfect and up-to-date. Your LinkedIn should present a professional online image of you and if you’re in an industry where a portfolio is required, that will need taking care of too.
Once you have all that looked after, you can get the ball rolling on applying for jobs. You sit and wait until you hear back and then, BOOM! A recruiter reaches out to you. They liked the look of your application and they want to move you forward in the process to an interview. To ensure that all the time that you’ve put into your application thus far hasn’t gone to waste, now all thoughts shift to absolutely smashing your interview.
Between us, the team here at Gradguide have been through this process on countless occasions for similar jobs you’ll be looking at applying to. So, we thought we’d put together our best tips for on how you can prepare properly for an interview to give yourself the best chance of getting an offer.
Get lost down a research rabbit-hole 💻🔍
The recruiter should have sent you over some relevant material and it goes without saying, that you should look over them. Then, Google/Yahoo/Bing is your best friend here. The company website is your first port of call and you should be able to get a lot of information there. Company’s websites can obviously vary massively from one to the next but, for the most part, you should be able to find out the basics about the company and what they do.
Become familiar with their product(s) so that you have knowledge of what you will likely be working on in your role. Get to know who their customers are, the industry they’re in, who their competitors are and what their USP is relative to each one. Also, take note of their recent blog posts and of recent mentions of the company in the news.
Prepare intelligent questions to ask. Questions you ask during an interview reveal what you care about and the amount of preparation you’ve done for the interview.For inspiration, take a look at your interviewer(s) LinkedIn. By looking at what their role is within the company, you might get an indication of what kind of questions they’re likely to ask and it’ll give you an idea of questions that you should ask them.
Additionally, you might see on their profile that they went to the same secondary school or college as you or worked in the same part-time job or they just share similar interests to you. It’s nice to have an icebreaker at the start of the conversation and having something in common with the interviewer can get you off to a strong start.
Find out about the company culture 💭
Many companies talk about their culture and about what it’s like to work there on both their website and social media channels. Culture is something that modern companies take very seriously. Definitions of culture can get quite fluffy sometimes I think this Merriam-Webster dictionary hits the nail on the head:
Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterises an institution or organisation
During the interview process, it’s important to make a judgment call about if you’ll fit in with their culture. Interviews are a two way street — you have to choose the company just as much as they choose you. Use Glassdoor to read up on the company’s culture and what it’s like to work there. The reviews are all written by a company’s employees so you should get a (relatively) honest insight.
It’s very common for companies to ask you which of their specific values you identify with most, so it helps to have a detailed understanding of what exactly they are. This is a massive opportunity to show you’ve done research and to stand out from other candidates. You can use this answer to explain how your background and interests not only align with their culture but how you can deliver impact for the company and connect to their mission.
Study top interview questions 💡
There have been countless posts written about top interview questions and how to answer them and we even briefly touched on it in last week’s blog post, The 3 most common career challenges graduates face and how to overcome them.
The reality is that good managers know how to interview well and they’ll typically ask you tough questions to test you. These usually come in three different formats.
- Situational based — “ you are day 1 on the job and..”
- Strength based — “I see you like football, tell me more”
- Competency based — “Tell me about a time when..”
Take some time to research and go through different examples of each of these questions, taking note of ones relevant to the job you’re applying for. There are plenty of other handy online resources like Glassdoor where you can be specific questions that companies ask at interview.Once you have a list of potential questions, prepare answers for them using the STAR method and if possible, find someone to go through a mock interview with you so you can practice.
Similarly to an exam, if you’re not a little nervous the day of an interview, you should be. Treat it as you would treat an exam. You’re about to be grilled, tested and assessed by a number of different people for, in some cases, an hour but oftentimes longer than that. Whatever you’ve found has worked well on the day of exams throughout college or for other interviews, do that. Look up directions and pack a bag if you need it the night before.
Print off a CV for each of the interviewers you’ll be talking to. Eat if you want to and drink plenty of water. Then, show up 20 minutes early. Having all this done will not only help you focus on the task at hand but allow the build-up to an interview to be as stress-free as possible.
To learn more about what we can help you with when transitioning from college to company, reach out to the Gradguide team, we’d be happy to help!