Graduate Job Interviews

September 30, 2012  |   Career Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

You have finished your degree and finally you have the chance to get out and earn some real money to pay off those debts. But first of all you have to be successful in your job interview.  In this article we give you some key tips for being successful at graduate job interviews.



Know Your CV


The first thing you are going to be asked about at pretty much every interview is your CV. This can be done in a number of ways such as ‘why don’t you run us through your CV?’ Or ‘Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?’


This is a key part of the interview because the recruiter will start to form an impression of you in the first 5 minutes of an interview. So it’s essential you can talk through your CV in a confident and concise manner. In order to do this you need to rehearse before you get to the interview. Do it in a mirror and with a friend. You should be able to run through your CV in around 5 minutes maximum. More than that and the interviewer will be getting bored.


Research the Competencies

Most interviews these days are partly or totally competency based. Competencies are the behaviours and skills that employers believe make successful performers. Often employers profile their staff to analyse the competencies that are shown by successful performers. These competencies are then used by companies to help select candidates who show good evidence of having them. In this way employers believe they can bring in new staff that are likely to do well in the company.


If you look at the job advert it will often list the key competencies an employer is looking for. This is a list of the most common competencies used by employers


If you know the competencies you can make sure you have found examples of where you have shown them and use the CAR approach to giving the answers. This can all be done and rehearsed before the interview.


Competency Based Interview Questions


These are questions that look for evidence of where you have shown or used a competence. They differ to questions that ask you how you might approach a problem or situation. You can answer these in a theoretical fashion having never faced the situation. Whereas for competency based questions you are asked to give an actual example of where you have used the competence and what you did. Competency based questions tend to be used fairly extensively by large organisations in applications and interviews. They may form the majority of the interview


Example Questions


  • Describe a time when you have had to recover from a setback to achieve a deadline. What would you do differently as a result? Drive for Results)
  • Can you describe a time when you used your creativity to help you achieve something (Creativity)
  • Tell me about a time where you have had to plan and organise an event or project. (Planning and Organising)


Example Answer (Drive for Results)


The example answer which follows is not a full answer but demonstrates how to use the CAR approach to structure your answer. In an interview or do not use the actual CAR headings in the way shown in the example answer.  Just use your own words to link the answer together.


  • Context; for my degree I had to complete a project with 4 other students. There were a number of things that needed to be done so we split the tasks between us. When we sat to review our progress one of our group had not completed the necessary research with other students to allow the project to progress. This meant that we risked not getting the project in on time.


  • Action; I expressed my concern that this piece of work had not been completed and asked what had been the cause of the problem. The person concerned had just not bothered to do it and there was no acceptable reason for this. I asked the other members of the group if they would be prepared to give up a half day the next day to get the research that we needed. I explained to them that we could still achieve our project deadlines if we were prepared to do this.


  • Result; We completed the research the next day. I also spoke to the course tutor about the person that had not done the work and asked for him to be removed from our group. This was not an easy thing to do but was the right thing to do for the group. The project was completed on time and received a 75% pass. The key lesson from this experience was to make sure people are asked to flag when they are not going to be able to do what’s expected and to have more regular reviews of progress on projects.



Difficult Interview Questions


In most interviews you will also get some non competency based questions. These are the ones that often people find difficult. You can see how to answer difficult interview questions on this link



Fatal Interview Errors Made By Graduates


I have been involved in interviewing literally hundreds of graduates for jobs, as well as coaching graduates in preparation for interviews. There are some things that graduates often seem to do that will make it difficult for them to get the job. The key ones are


  • Appearing hesitant and lacking confidence. This is normally because of interview nerves. But if you have prepared there is no need to be nervous
  • Not showing positive body language. This is apparent by the slouched way they walk into the room and drop into the chair. Sometimes they don’t maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Go into the interview projecting confidence and a friendly sociable manner.
  • Failing to research. Sometimes the research done on the company or the job is really limited. This shows a lack of interest and motivation in the job to the interviewer. So make sure you dig deep. Check out the company and it’s results. Look at the latest press releases and it’s product range. This also enables you to come up with some intelligent questions when asked ‘is there anything you would like to ask us?’


Success At Graduate Job Interviews

I promise you that if you follow the guidance given here you will stand head and shoulders above most of your competitors for a job. You will appear bright, intelligent and confident. Exactly the kind of person that most companies want to employ.


If you want to find out more about our graduate career coaching services please call us.





Tony Goddard


Keywords: , , , , , , , ,


Related Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News

  • What Can Career Coaching Do For You?
    If you are looking for a new job a good Career Coach will improve your chances of getting the role you want by 50% or more. You say ‘he’s bound ...
  • Every CEO Should Have an Executive Coach
    If you have reached the top you may well wonder how you would get any benefit from Executive Coaching     Here are 3 reasons why Executive Coaching can enhance your performance as ...
  • What is Executive Coaching?
    As an Executive Coaching Company we find that we are often asked 'what is Executive Coaching?' It seems there are many views about what executive coaching is and what executive ...