Student Guide to Job Interviews
Jobs are the key to this little thing called money which you need to do really anything in life, and the key to these magical jobs are interviews. Cracking the enigma of the interview, whether it be at entry, senior, or top level should be one of your top priorities for entering the real world of work.
The number one question, whether directly or indirectly, will be for you to tell them your story. A simple question that people don’t fully know how to answer. This doesn’t mean tell them how you were bullied by a girl called Hetta and that was the beginning of your desire for world domination. A good method is to use a past, present, and future formula. This involves talking about your current role or your most recent role including your achievements and the scope of what you did, then give some background as to how you got there and the experience you required for the role, then finally reflect on how what you are doing helps you do the job you’re applying for. Granted, saying this all in the first question or the question that most closely links to your past experience is quite a heavy load to place on your interviewer but more info is usually always better in these situations.
The biggest problem, particularly for students, is how do you get started. Whether it be business, sciences, or the arts; you need experience to get a role and to get experience you need a role, it’s the classic catch 22 situation. The only alternative is either you have a rich dad who will let you get experience in his big evil corporation or you have to offer your amateurish services for free. Thanks to the expansive size of the internet there are numerous online opportunities to populate your CV. Ambassadorships, volunteer writing, representative work, so on and so forth. Most people have base experience, something entry level such as a shop assistant or McDonalds employee. This is a good way of gaining ‘brand experience’ and ‘customer service’ to grow your employment history. But it isn’t necessarily vital, as long as you have a golden tongue for those ten to fifteen minutes of an interview you can woo the interviewer and get your dream job.
When crafting these perfectly woven answers remember to encompass every answer to cover three things: you can not only do the work, but you can also deliver great results; you’ll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates. These three things are what the interviewer will need to write down to summarize how you are the best candidate, whether the interviewer is either a specific employee or a head of the entire department, it is always essential to be courteous and polite. Wear a suit (or at minimum a smart shirt and trousers) to every interview and take your time in answering the questions, there are no points for rushing through it even if it does feel like you’ve dove head first into a train as they quietly note down all of your stutters and mistakes. Beforehand, research the company and find out what they do and how they do it, they will likely ask you whether you’ve heard of their business before to get a taste of whether you are actually engaged in their industry and just casually mentioning what they are all about will go down a storm, interest = passion, passion = interest.
You can take a number of features from what the interviewer is wearing or what the office looks like and contort your own posturing to fit that situation. If it’s upbeat with everyone wearing casual clothes, the importance will likely be more directly placed on whether you are a good fit with other members and that you work well with others. If they are wearing a suit and tie then likewise you may pick out that they are looking for a professional who knows what they are talking about. It’s always recommended to stick with a professional but friendly tone of voice if you are unsure of how to act. For applying to internships the interviewer will likely be looking for your ability to learn and adapt under pressure to deadlines whilst a more direct and specific job will aim to understand your experience and knowledge for the subject. Look at other opportunities similar to the one you have applied for and find the key words that link them, fully understanding what these words mean and what one would look for in someone to find these words would be a good way of making sure you are ready to put your good foot forward and show that you are capable of anything that they throw at you.
Interviews are scary at the best of times, but interviewers understand as they’ve likely been in the same situation before, so don’t worry too much. If you don’t get it it isn’t the end of the world. For me personally, at uni I had to apply to a minimum of ten internships before I got one interview; this improved as I gained more experienced and aimed more specifically on roles I knew I had knowledge and experience in, but there is still a lot of failure you have to go through to find those nuggets of success. I easily applied to over 30 internships and got 5. That’s a success rate of 16% over three years. Just keep on trying and adapting and working on yourself and then you’re bound to find an opportunity out there that’s perfect for you.