The Interview Guide
Publish Date: 2022-08-11
If you find that you struggle when under pressure, this can be the thing that holds you back from starting that dream job that you’ve always wanted! At Young Professionals, we’re here to go back to basics and help guide you through the preparation of the lead up to the interview, as well as our key tips on how to remain calm and nail the process!
Often as the long awaited interview approaches, we try to remember all of the advice from our parents, teachers and friends, which, sometimes can be conflicting advice and leave us feeling confused and overwhelmed. We hope that this guide will give you the key steps that you can refer to and follow when preparing for that all important interview, meaning you can walk in there with confidence, knowing that you have all bases covered!
You’ve been asked in for an interview, it’s showtime!
This is a great indication that your CV and cover letter have done their job, as often recruiters will receive hundreds of Cv’s to sift through for each role.
Once you’ve patted yourself on the back for even getting this far, the first thing to do when you secure that interview date is start your research on the company and the role that you are interviewing for - knowledge is king!
Do your research on the company’s vision, values, mission and culture.
Look up the person interviewing you, you may be able to find a bit about them on the company website or by using LinkedIn. This could help you get an idea of their personality, style and any information about what they look for in their employees. It may even just put your mind at ease knowing who to expect to meet on the day.
Take a look at the company’s social media channels, LinkedIn profile and Glassdoor to get a better understanding of the company from a range of perspectives.
Thoroughly research the role that you are applying for and start to think about why YOU would be great for the position!
This information will undoubtedly be useful during the interview process, but it will also be instrumental in helping you decide whether the company is right for you. Equally, if you do have any reservations regarding the role then these are the questions that you can ask during the interview process. Asking relevant and necessary questions will show that you’re taking the process seriously
The day before the interview
By this point you should be familiar with the company and the role that you are applying for, so the initial research should all be done. Now is the time to re-read over all of the details and try to commit it all to memory as much as possible. It will always stand you in good stead to be able to drop into conversation some relevant facts to show that you have done your research and remembered the important bits!
Some examples of great information could be:
Your interviewer’s role/background
The team you will be working with WHEN you get the job!
A bit about the company, the history, the clients, the office locations/countries
Any big news/projects that the company is working on. Have they just announced a focus on sustainability, or announced a huge new partner? It won’t harm to drop this into the conversation, if and when relevant.
All of the above information should be easily found on the main company website. Social media channels and LinkedIn are great as well for the most recent updates (assuming they update their social channels regularly!). If you really want to nail this interview, doing this additional research can really help to make you stand out from the crowd!
Now you have the research done and know all there is to know about your potential new place of work... It’s time to make sure you know yourself and your CV like the back of your hand. Refresh your memory on exactly what you wrote in your CV and what the recruiter will have read/will be reading throughout your interview. Remind yourself of all the skills and achievements you describe in your CV, and why they are important in landing you this role. Run through this in your mind or on paper, so that, when asked, you can explain clearly and calmly why YOU are the right person for this role because of your experience, achievements, hard skills and soft skills.
Being punctual is imperative to make a good first impression on your job interview. Plan your journey in advance. Make sure the trains are running smoothly, there are no disruptions, even have a back-up journey in your mind - just in case! Aim to arrive 30 minutes early, particularly if you’re travelling somewhere that you haven’t been before. The last thing you want is to arrive rushed and stressed as this will put you in the wrong frame of mind and set you up for failure.
Get a good night's sleep
By this point you should feel prepared and satisfied in your mind with what the key points are that you would like to get across in the interview. Now for the finishing touches. Plan an appropriate outfit, using your research of the company culture to determine what the dress code should be. If in doubt, always go smart, but most importantly, make sure that you feel comfortable and that your outfit is clean and, if necessary, ironed! With your impressive outfit laid out and ready to go for the morning, now is the time to unwind, do some exercise, listen to some music, have a good dinner and get an early night. You may be feeling slightly nervous, but try to relax and get a good rest as this will help set you up for the day ahead!
D (interview) day!
The day has arrived! All of your hard work and preparation is about to pay off. Or, worse case scenario it will be a great learning experience and leave you more confident for the next one!
Leave on time and follow your planned route. Bring your notes for you to read over during the journey. If you arrive early (fingers crossed!), make sure you find the location and then use the time to compose yourself, or find a cafe where you can grab a drink and do any final prep before making your way to the interview location 5-10 minutes before you are due to start. This should go without saying, but when you arrive, make sure that you are polite and friendly to every person that you encounter as you never know who is watching or who knows who! Pay attention to the surroundings and take it all in.
Now you’re in with the interviewer/interviewers. Try to stay calm and not panic. The recruiter has asked you to attend the interview for a reason, so now they just want to meet you and find out a little bit more about what you’ve spoken about in your CV and Cover Letter. They’ll also be able to get a better idea of your personality and whether they can see you fitting in well with the team and company culture. Allow your personality to shine through, but stay professional.
Interviews are usually always daunting and recruiters are aware of this, so it is okay to be nervous. Just try to stay as calm as possible and speak slowly and clearly when answering any questions. Use examples. Hopefully you have prepared a few key points that you want to mention so try to drop these into conversation where possible, but otherwise the recruiter will usually lead the conversation and will have questions ready to ask. Answer the questions honestly, whilst ensuring to stick to the question without going off on a tangent.
Make good eye contact when speaking. If there is more than one interviewer, be sure to speak to each of them when you are answering their questions. If you have any questions throughout the interview, if it’s appropriate, ask them as and when they are relevant to the conversation. Otherwise, remember any questions to ask at the end of the interview. It’s always good to have two or three questions ready to ask as it shows engagement and demonstrates that you are seriously considering all aspects of the role. However, if the interviewer really has covered all of the questions that you had prepared and you can’t think of anything else, be honest and say that. Explain that they have answered all of your questions throughout the interview and that you will let them know if you think of anything else. A final question could be ‘What would be the next stage’? Or ‘When can I expect to hear back from you’?
You did it!
That wasn’t too bad was it? Once you’ve finished the interview, be proud of yourself for completing it, regardless of anything else. Interviews can be tough going! Before you leave be sure to thank the interviewer for their time. A key point that will set you apart from the crowd is to then follow up with an email to your interviewer, simply thanking them for their time again and saying that you look forward to hearing from them.
The interviewer should have told you when they will be in touch, so now all there is to do is to wait... Once you receive that call or email, you will either be able to enthusiastically accept, politely decline or graciously accept their feedback that they decided to go with somebody else on this occasion. Try not to take it personally if you don’t get the job, no matter how good the interview went, there are so many factors that recruiters must consider and sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Focus on the positives and the learnings that you can take from the experience. If you don’t receive feedback, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Thank them again for their time throughout the hiring process and politely request feedback, explaining that this will really help you for future opportunities. The recruiter will love your desire for feedback which again, could go in your favour in the future should your paths cross again!
Young Professionals UK, founded in 2015, are leading school-leavers experts whose mission is to bring better and more vibrant opportunities to students who need them the most. They have already helped thousands of students accelerate their careers with apprenticeship and work experience programs alongside some of the world’s leading companies. To stay tuned for future student or employer opportunities visit https://young-professionals.uk/ or https://www.instagram.com/youngprouk