Interview skills are an essential tool for all students in today’s world of employment as there is increasing competition for job vacancies. This is largely due to the rise in graduation rates, consequently there are far more candidates applying for the same jobs.
These factors mean that good grades and appropriate work experience is no longer enough to secure you a job, which brings us to the importance of developing excellent interview skills to ensure you stand out to potential employers. Making a good impression in your interview is key, so being confident and well prepared will greatly increase your chances of making it to the next stage of the recruitment process.
Have you done enough?
Developing your interview skills is usually incorporated into your studies at the later stages of your education through either placements or tutor led preparation. However, it is often the case that these new skills were not put into practice or properly retained. Therefore further development of interview skills is incredibly beneficial at any stage, whether it’s to build on existing knowledge as part of your own CPD or to start from scratch.
For the employer, conducting an interview is not just about making sure you can answer their questions. The recruitment process requires a lot of time and money on behalf of the employer and so it is incredibly important that they choose the right person for the job. As well as the knowledge and skills required for the job role, employers also need to know that as a person you will be a great addition to their company. This means making sure you share their company values and will easily become part of their organisational culture and the existing team. Understanding this and knowing whether or not you may be a good fit for a particular company is part of your interview preparation.
How to prepare
It is important to understand that different companies may have different interview procedures, especially now that there are often such high numbers of applicants. This means you need to be prepared for anything they may present you with on the day.
- The first step is to do your research! You should never go to an interview without knowing as much as you can about the company, their values and the job role you have applied for. As well as preparing you for interview questions and letting the employer know that you are genuinely interested in the job, this will also help you to decide if it is the type of place you want to work.
- Secondly you want to make sure that you are as well prepared as possible to answer any questions you may get asked. A good way to start is to analyse the job specification and link it to your CV and application so that you can give supported examples of why you are a good candidate for the role. You should also make flashcards with other question examples and some well thought out answers. Practicing these should improve your confidence and ability to give clear and detailed answers, although it is also really important that your responses don’t sound rehearsed on the day! Setting up a mock interview with a friend could help you relax more and learn to answer questions more naturally. During the interview it is also important to demonstrate good listening skills to show interest and allow yourself to give the best answers.
- Your outfit! What you choose to wear for your interview will give the employer their first impression. The company and job role you are applying for should give you a good indication on what would be most appropriate. The general rule is that you should be smartly dressed to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best way possible. Arriving fifteen minutes before your interview is best practice as it allows you to demonstrate to your new potential employer that you are punctual and care about the job. If for any reason you know that you will be late, e.g. traffic, let them know.
- At the end of your interview it is likely that you will be asked if you have any questions. Use this opportunity to ask about anything you are unsure of or any aspects of the job role you would like clarifying. You may also want to think of some questions beforehand, as this will show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the company and the job. For example you may want to ask about opportunities for progression and further education at the company to show that you are motivated, but do not ask for information that can be found on the company website.
You can use our virtual reality role-play programme C-Live to practice your interview skills further. The program allows you to choose an existing scenario or tailor your own which is excellent for providing practical results! All interactions are live, with avatars being controlled by our simulation specialists, allowing staff to see the direct results of their actions. For further information on C-Live, click here.
You may also want to enquire at your school, college or university to see what programmes or workshops they offer to further assist you with your interview skills.