Guest blog: Interview Tips for Graduates

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 careers@soas.ac.uk

Interviews can be nerve-wracking even for the most confident and experienced of people. Graduates embarking on potentially their first job search need to prepare extremely well and practice the art form of giving a good interview. If you’ve been invited to interview then you’re doing better than most already but the hard work has only just begun. Here at Wayfair we’ve put together some tips for students and graduates on achieving interview success and getting your foot on the first rung of the professional ladder!

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Step One: Preparation

The more you know about the company you’re interviewing for, the more at ease you will feel and the more you will be able to impress the interviewer. Knowing about what the company does, their size, and their presence in the marketplace shows interest and engagement in the company, something that is crucial if you want to win a job offer.

You should also think about how the division you’re being considered for fits into the company as a whole. This’ll help you gain a better understanding of what type of person they might be looking for and which of your experiences is most relevant to the role.

Tip: Always look at the company’s website and read any information provided, including the job description, prior to the interview.

It may be that you don’t have an abundance of relevant professional experience which means that you will have to draw on other experiences to show that you’re the right person for the job. To prepare well, study the job description and make notes on what skills and experiences the company are looking up. Then line up your CV with the job description; work out which of your own experiences tie in with what they’re looking for and make clear in your own mind which of your experiences and skills are most relevant to the job so that you can talk about these clearly at the interview.

The next step is to think about what questions they might ask and how you might answer them. You could always try practicing interviewing in front of the bathroom mirror or with a friend or family member.

Another good way to prepare is to think of some questions beforehand that you might like to ask at the end of the interview. This is an opportunity to show that you’re engaged with the company and also gives you the opportunity to ask about aspects of the job that are important to you and find out if the company suits you.

Tip: It’s a good idea to check the news on the days running up to your interview, just in case anything major is happening that involves or might affect the company that you’re interviewing for.

Step Two: Planning

It’s extremely important to be punctual for an interview. Arriving late or hot and bothered after a rushed journey will cloud your mind and affect your confidence. Allow plenty of time for delays and if you really are stuck, phone ahead to let the company know that you’re running late or can’t make it.

Make sure you get enough sleep the night before and eat plenty before the interview so that you’re feeling refreshed. You should be at your best so that you can focus and represent yourself as best as possible!

Step Three: Presentation

How to dress for an interview may seem like a complicated decision, especially if you’re unfamiliar with professional wardrobe standards. The answer is simple: formal. It’s safest to dawn a suit (skirt or trousers) with smart shoes. For graduates in particular, what you wear will help you to come across as mature, professional and serious about gaining the position.

Tips: A good way to gauge how you should dress is to aim to dress a level of smartness above what you would for the job.

Your body language is also a key part of the impression you give. Smile, make eye contact with the interviewer, and leave your arms uncrossed by placing your hands on your lap so as not to create a barrier between you and the interviewer.

How you speak is also important and your voice will give it away if you’re nervous so take control. Give yourself time to answer questions; you can take a few moments to consider how you’re going to answer a question and speak naturally and not too fast.

Tip: First impressions matter. A firm handshake at the start and end of an interview together with your verbal and non-verbal communication is critical to creating a professional image.

Step Four: Mindset

Regardless of how you’re feeling about the prospective job, get excited about it and go with the objective of getting it. This will help you to automatically create a positive representation and give you a much better chance of actually getting the job.

Remember also that an interview is equally about you working out if the company suits you as well as it’s about the company working out if you’re right for them. Having this in mind may help to boost your confidence and settle nerves.

Be confident in yourself—the fact that you’ve been asked to interview shows that the company believes you can do the job. Now they just want to see whether you’re genuine and work out whether you’re a good fit for the team.

And with that, we wish you the very best of luck!

Guest blog by Florence Edwards, Wayfair

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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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