Interview qualifications a job candidate must possess on a checklist clipboard including experience, communication, education and other skills necessary for a new position in your career

On this page:

1. Watch DVDs and online clips
2. Prepare and practise
3. Mastering competency questions
4. ‘Tell me about yourself’ – how to deal with this typical opening
5. Types of interviews (value-based; strengths-based; case study)
6. Interview tips from employers (McKinsey, incl. case study tips)
7. Questions for the employer
8. Dress to impress
9. After the interview
10. Recovering from an interview gone wrong

1. Watch DVDs and online clips

Below are all examples provided by the Careers and Employability Service (CES) of what can be expected in a job interview or an assessment centre. These will help you become well-informed and well-prepared, even if you are not interested in the specific employer.

Click here to watch these DVDs on the Careers and Employability Service’s (CES) website:

Titles include:
Making an impact: the graduate job interview
Graduate telephone interview
Enterprise Rent-A-Car interview
KPMG finance interview
First Impressions Count (confidence booster about dressing correctly and body language);
also various DVDs about assessment centres.

Interview tips from professionals

The latest addition to the CES website are short video clips with employers and careers professionals giving students advice about CVs, interviews and other topics. You will land on the Employability Bitesize landing page with CV Rules, and to access the interview clips, you need to select the next tab along called Interview videos. Click here for the main landing page (but remember to select the next tab along).

Questions tackled by the experts include:
Why did you apply for this job role?
Why do you think you’re suitable?
How was your journey in today?
Is attitude more important than skill?
What makes a good first impression?
Importance of body language
Interview simulation (8 minutes)

IBM Assessment Centre tips

2. Prepare and practise

Start by looking at the person spec and re-reading your application. Prepare your answers to potential interview questions and practise these out loud. This will reinforce your answers and make them more memorable. For potential questions and tips for answers see below:

ep-logoGraduate employers are increasingly coming to the conclusion that individual interviews are insufficient in determining the suitability of candidates for a prospective job. Their solution is (the often dreaded) assessment centres, which is considered to be the fairest and most accurate method of selecting candidates. Assessment centres often include a range of group activities, presentations, individual interviews and psychometric testing.

If you have never attended an Assessment Centre before, it can be difficult to know what to expect. From the moment they arrive at an Assessment Centre, candidates must show themselves in their best light.

In order to ensure University of Kent students are fully prepared for this method of graduate recruitment, EP arrange mock assessment centres with two top graduate recruiters as EP rewards, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Santander Universities. A maximum of 10 students will be put through their paces with 1-1 interviews, challenging group tasks and presentations. You don’t need to be interested in retail banking to benefit from this session! All students will receive comprehensive written feedback.

All the mock assessment centres will cost 75 points and students can redeem their points to apply in late March 2016.With that in mind, make sure you have at least 75 points by 21st March 2016 to benefit from these fantastic opportunities.Take a look at the 2014/15 Santander Mock Assessment Centre by clicking here.

3. Mastering competency questions

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  • STAR: Situation – Task – Action – Result

  • Make sure to use the STAR technique when answering any competency questions (e.g. Give me an example where you have worked in a team. What was your role, what did you do and what was the outcome?)
    If you don’t know yet about STAR, click here.
  • Prepare by thinking of examples against some specific competencies required for your role (e.g. organisation skills, team working, leadership, problem solving).

 

4. “Tell me about yourself”

This is a common interview opening. For your answer you could prepare a short paragraph that includes information about your degree and relevant modules, your experience (from work or volunteering), extracurricular involvement and motivation about the career area you are applying for.

5. Types of interviews

strong-women

Some employers use different types of interviews and may not use competency-based questions. Typically, these are strengths-based interviews and value-based interviews.

Strengths-based interviews are becoming more popular, and there is a dedicated page on this blog. Click on this link to access: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kbs-employability/interviews-assessment-centres/strengths-based-interviews/

Value-based interviews

Value-based interviews explore how you might be doing things and why rather than talking about skills and competencies. There are no right and wrong answers, but you are likely to be asked for examples from real-life situations and reflect on these. Questions are also likely to be based on a company’s values, and as part of your preparation familiarise yourself with the organisation’s mission statement and core values.

Click here for examples of questions.

Case-study interviews

If you’re applying for jobs in management consultancy, then you’re likely to experience a case-study interview. For this, you are presented with a business scenario for analysis and you will be asked to come up with a potential solution or strategic plan. The key is to talk through your analysis and how you might solve the problem/issue. There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you can explain your thinking logically, step-by-step. Case-study interviews test your ability to think on your feet, analyse a problem, articulate your ideas and understanding of the business issues in the given context.

Here are some resources to help you prepare:

  • Consult0ing case 101 – a blog site dedicated to getting into management consulting; includes a compilation “A Day in the Life of Management Consultants” series to give you an idea what a typical day of a management consultant looks like in different consulting firms.
  • Deloitte – Preparing for your case interview.
  • University of Warwick, 9 tips for success
  • University of Kent, Careers and Employability Service: Case Interviews

6. Interview tips from employers

Watch videos and case study interview at http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/interviewing

7. Questions for the employer

Typically, you may get asked at the end of the interview whether you have any questions for them. It is generally not acceptable to ask how much you will be paid, but you could ask when you might hear about the outcome of the interview (if that wasn’t mentioned) or whether there is an opportunity for rotation during your training; how something you might have read in the business press will affect their business; what the interviewer enjoys the most about working for this employer. You could also clarify the start date, if you are unsure at this stage. Keep it positive.

If your questions were answered during the interview, briefly say so.

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car have recently posted some tips about questions that would impress them: Six great interview questions and why you should ask them.

Click here to read.

 

e-Financial Careers have an article worth reading and questions to consider. Click here to read.

8. Dress to impress

If you’re unsure about how to dress business-like for your personal interview, then perhaps this 20-min. video produced by the Careers Service at the University of Bedford might be useful to watch. This features an image consultant who is working with different students on getting the style right. Click here to watch the video First Impressions Count.

If time is at a premium, then you may find this Guardian article useful. As an additional tip, lay out your clothes the night before, so that there are no nasty surprises on the morning of your interview, such as a stain or something else which you can easily remedy on the previous day. Click here for the article.

Detailed information about how to dress for interview provided by About Careers: click here.

Interview-man interview-woman

9. After the interview

  • Take stock – make some brief notes: what went well? What did not go so well? Why was this? What were the most difficult questions for you?
  • Get professional help – how can you improve? Go to Careers Advice in this blog.
  • Thank the employer for the opportunity to participate in their assessment centre or having had the opportunity to attend the interview.
  • If you have not been successful this time, ask the employer for feedback. What were the perceived weaknesses? How might you be able to improve?

10. Recovering from an interview gone wrong

All may not be lost and here are three tips about how you can salvage an interview that you think you may have messed up. Click here for more.

Abintegro have published some debriefing information:

How to debrief after a bad interview

By Abintegro on 09 Jul 2015 10:33 am
How to debrief after a bad interview
We’ve all been there: a bad interview can be an extremely demoralising event. However worldly or thick-skinned we are, it’s hard not to take it personally when our interviewers don’t appreciate what we have to say or to shake it off when we don’t do ourselves justice.

With emotions running high in the hours that follow, the natural reaction is to try and move on and put the experience behind you. Don’t. Instead of reaching for the comfort food or heading to the nearest public house, now’s the time to debrief, to look at things objectively and to analyse what went wrong.

Having a plan in place can make the process more palatable and will help uncover the key information you need to improve your future interview performance. Here are our three Rs for a successful debrief:

Record
Start with the facts. Piecing together the key details from the interview – the names and roles of your interviewers and the questions they asked – can help you start to deconstruct why things went sour and will provide a platform for more in-depth analysis.

Recall
With the details in place, try taking yourself back to the scene of the crime and to some of the more subjective observations you made like the reactions of your interviewers as you spoke and their body language. While you might not have picked up on it at the time, things like crossed arms or looking past you could signify disapproval or disinterest in what you had to say.

Review
While not always pleasant, assessing your own performance is one of the most important parts of the debriefing process. Were you prepared or relaxed enough going into the room? Which questions did you particularly struggle with and did you ask enough of your own? It’s important to be as honest with yourself as possible, but try not to be overly critical or discount the things you did well. Writing a list of the positives and negatives can help maintain a balanced view.

Of course, the steps outlined above can be just as easily followed after a good interview as a bad one. You’ll want to make sure the things you did well weren’t just a one-off. The key in both cases is to maintain some objectivity and treat it as a valuable learning exercise.