Got an interview? Well done! But the hard work isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. Let’s
take it step by step…
What’s the set up?
Employers can take their pick from the traditional face to face scenario a phone or Skype call, a video question and answer session. If all interviews are somewhat disconcerting, the video version is reckoned by many students to be the most unsettling of all. It involves no human contact whatsoever, just a series of questions which have to be prepared and answered in a set time frame. However unnerving it might be for candidates, the video process is quicker and slicker for employers to deal with, so it’s here to stay.
What will you be asked?
Whatever the type of interview it, questions fall into a few discrete groups. You want those categories? They are…
- Motivational: your reasons for applying
- Biographical: your academic and personal experience
- Skills and strengths: what is unique about you?
- Competency: do you meet the criteria necessary to be successful?
So, broadly speaking you will be asked why you want to do that job with that organisation, what benefits (skills, experience) you can bring, whether you are a fit for their brand, values, working culture and how much they will have to invest in you. Not that they’ll put it quite like that of course, but they are really probing how committed and knowledgeable you are, and hence how much it will cost to train you. Your job is to reassure them on all counts.
How do you prepare?
From your perspective, it may be better not to dwell so much on which questions will be posed but rather on what you want to tell them. In other words, after dealing with each initial question as it comes (“I want to work here because…”) promote your suitability for the post in the follow through. (“I can offer the company x, y, z”). But all your answers must be backed up with detailed evidence. So have up your capacious sleeve an example that verifies what you are saying otherwise it becomes a meaningless assertion. In other words, rather than just stating that you have worked in numerous different teams, give them chapter and verse on a time when you have (successfully) participated in a team activity.
Above all, know your skills and strengths inside out, back to front and upside down!
Plenty, but it can be summed up by “Do your homework”. Arm yourself with information and deploy it strategically.
Go beyond the organisation’s website – look at news articles, company reports, their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Be ready to make objective and original comments on these, if required.
More than this, know their competitors. What are they up to? What can “your” firm do to
complement or trump their activities? Understand the sector in which they operate. What’s happening there? How do current political and social issues impact on this?
Above all, show what you know!
Good luck and remember that if you have a interview secured to make use of SOAS Careers’ Practice Interview service, where a careers consultant will prepare questions specific to the sector, employer and job you have applied for so that you are prepared for the real thing. Just email email@example.com to get booked in.
Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant