You’re likely to view your first post-university interview with a mixture of excitement and sheer terror. That’s completely normal – and trust us, the more interviews you go to, the easier it gets. The key to success in a job interview is preparation. The better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be, the more knowledge you’ll have, and the more impressed your interviewer will be. So make sure you take the time to really do your homework - and here’s how.
This won’t be the first time or last time you’ll hear this, but you really need to swot up on the company that you’re interviewing with. What you need to know depends on the kind of role it is. If it’s a media sales role, find out who the company’s clients are and who their competitors are. If it’s a digital marketing role, look at their social media presence and have some positive comments to make on the website. This information is widely available – read the company website, look at their company page on LinkedIn (this will also help as it will show you similar companies, who are likely to be competitors), and read reviews on Glassdoor. Know the basics – what the company does, when it was founded and who the MD is. Many interviewers open with the question ‘so tell me what you know about our business’ – and you should be able to answer in detail.
Also research the person interviewing you. How long have they been with the company? What was their career path to get there? You should be able to find this out on their LinkedIn profile or on the company website – we’re not advocating tracking them down and making a Facebook friend request.
Once you know the company inside out, look up the potential interview questions you could be asked. There are dozens of resources online, but this is a good starting point. You won’t be asked all of them and many are variations on the same thing, but make sure you’ve got answers ready so you won’t be taken by surprise in the interview. Have a few scenarios ready for competency based questions, such as ‘Can you give an example of a time that you worked to a deadline?’, and even if you don’t directly get to answer these questions, you can talk about it elsewhere in the interview.
Having a quick look on TFL to see that it will take you roughly 45 minutes to get to your interview isn’t good enough. What time of day are you going? If you’re travelling in rush hour, you may need to double that timeframe. Do you know exactly where you’re going when you get to the tube station? If you have the opportunity, check where you’re going and do a practice run a few days before your interview, and see if there’s a coffee shop nearby. Then on the day, leave masses of time with a view to getting a coffee and going over your notes before arriving calm and collected 5-10 minutes before your interview start time. Arriving late, flustered or breathless won’t help your performance or your first impression on the interviewer.
In the media world, not many people wear suits, so it can be hard to know what to wear to an interview. But don’t assume that just because your interviewer is casual, you should be too. It’s always better to be too smart than underdressed. Men – always wear a suit. There are a few more options for women – a dress and blazer with smart shoes would generally be fine. If in doubt, ask your Aspire recruitment consultant what they would recommend. Make sure you know what you’re going to wear the day before your interview and that it’s all clean, and if you’re wearing tights, have a spare pair ready in case of ladders.
Know Your CV
It may sound obvious, but you need to be able to talk about all of the great achievements you’ve got on your CV. If you’ve talked about how you increased advertising revenue on your student newspaper by 50%, you need to be able to back that up and explain exactly how that came about. If you’ve got a poor exam grade, you need to be able to explain why. Your interviewer won’t be trying to catch you out, but will want to know about your past successes and failures to decide whether you are a good fit for their role.
An interviewer makes their first impression of you within the first ten seconds of meeting you – no pressure! Make sure that you stand up to greet them when they arrive, offer a firm handshake, and introduce yourself. Make eye contact, don’t slouch, and smile. For more details, have a look at this article.
At graduate level, your interviewer is first and foremost looking for a positive, can-do attitude. Don’t be negative about previous employers, other interviews you may be attending, or even the journey to the office that morning. If you are positive about the role, the company and can talk about why you think you would succeed in the role, you’re halfway to being offered the job.
If you’ve got an interview coming up and you’re worried about any of the above, speak to your Aspire consultant who will be happy to talk you through the process and answer any questions you might have.
You can also download our Job Success Guide below for everything from CV to your first 3 months.
Best of luck!
When the candidate is "not the right fit"
21 Ways to be Happier at Work
Handling Kids & Work from Home Together
How to Make Virtual Meetings More Engaging
IR35 Delay Alleviates Pressures on Contractors During Covid-19
Second stage interview
Tips for delivering Interview presentations
Executive Search: How we can help
IWD 2019: What does balance for better mean for you at work?