Guest blog: Be prepared for job interviews

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert

So you’ve got past the first hurdle of making your CV stand out amongst hundreds of applicants, and managed to bag yourself an interview. Congratulations! But in order to secure your dream job, you must first make it through the next stage: the dreaded graduate job interview. These can be a lot trickier than an interview for some part-time bar work at your local pub, so it’s best to be prepared. At Spotlight Recruitment, we help graduates prepare for job interviews every day, so to help you in your search, we have put together the top 5 questions you are bound to be asked, and the best way of answering them.images


1.    “Tell me about yourself…”

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a question, but it’s something that will come up a lot during interviews and can definitely throw some people! But don’t panic; you can keep your answer fairly brief and just give the interviewer a brief run-through of your CV. Talk about your degree, the different modules, then any bits of relevant work experience, volunteering, or extra-curricular activities you have done.

2.    “Why do you want the job?”

This questions is almost guaranteed to be asked during a job interview, so make sure to have an answer prepared before you go. And be specific. Don’t just say why you want to work in the industry, tell the interviewer what it is about the role and the company that you are interested in. Read the job description carefully before you go and read up on the company.

3.    “What is your main strength?”

This is your chance to show what you can bring to the role. Think about what you are good at, then pick something which is related to the job you are interviewing for. If you are going for an accounting role for example, it’s best to mention your ability with numbers rather than the fact you’re a talented pianist. It’s also better to be specific so you stand out. If you’re interviewing for a marketing position, instead of saying “I’m creative”, say something like “I’m always the one coming up with new ideas when doing a group project.”

4.    “What is your biggest weakness?”

This is one of the hardest interview questions to answer and can often throw graduates! Avoid the “I’m a workaholic” cliché; admit a genuine weakness. The best way to go about it is to pick something that’s not directly related to the role, then go on to show your strengths and explain how you work around it. For example, you could say you’re not good at public speaking, but get around it by being organised and preparing what you are going to say when you have to give a presentation (although don’t use this one if it’s a sales role!).

5.    “Describe a time where…”

Competency questions are often used in graduate job interviews. It’s a good idea to have some good examples lined up before you attend the interview that can be adjusted to fit different situations. Think back to university group projects, part-time jobs, volunteer work, travel, or any extra-curricular activities you have done. Then answer the question using the STAR technique: describe the situation, the task you had, the actions you took, and the result. Make sure to be specific on the actions you took to resolve the situation.

Guest blog by Alice Riley from Spotlight Recruitment


About soascareers

We are the dedicated provider of careers advice, events and information services for current SOAS students, staff and GradClub members.

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