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Graduate Interview Tips


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Interview tips for graduates - originally presented at the University of Northampton in 2008.

Interview tips for graduates - originally presented at the University of Northampton in 2008.

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  • 1. Job Interviews – Advice for Graduates…..
    Idealpeople on tour at Northampton University, 2008
  • 2. Why do companies recruit? What makes them need to find new staff?
    • To deal with a large workload
    • 3. To grow the company into new markets and regions
    • 4. To deliver new and different services
    • 5. To replace someone who’s left
    i.e. TO SOLVE A PROBLEM……………
  • 6. Recruitment as a Problem-Solver
    • Companies recruit to solve a problem
    • 7. Companies use interviews to assess who is best to solve that problem
    • 8. Hiring staff is just like buying a product: you find a list a products, take a detailed look, consider which best serves the purpose you need it for and buy that one….
  • Basic Interview Tips
    • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The best candidate is not guaranteed to get the job. The best prepared candidate is....
    • 9. Identify what the company’s problem is, and identify how you can solve that problem
    • 10. Remember that interviewers get nervous too
    • 11. Make a great first impression by looking your best, and make sure your greeting / handshake conveys your personality.
    • 12. Spin sell at every opportunity - let the interviewer tell you what they want to hear and give it back to them without being dishonest
  • Tips Continued
    • Link features and benefits wherever possible
    • 13. Talk achievements
    • 14. The company is on interview too!
    • 15. Be on time (not too early, not too late)
    • 16. Ask intelligent questions
    • 17. Brush your teeth and don't eat any coronation chicken sandwiches(Apparently it’s “hard to control and looks like vomit on a dark suit”)
  • Preparation
    To succeed at an interview, you need to know:
    • As much as possible about the company
    • 18. As much as possible about the person interviewing you
    • 19. As much as possible about the company’s products, services and market
    Having this information helps you understand what the problem is the company are looking to solve.
  • 20. TASK
    How long does it take to find out this information?
    Using just the internet, who can find out the most (or can suggest how to find out about) MY professional background?
    HOT TIP: Sign up to
    HOT TIP: Read up on Boolean Searching & Google…the power of internet search is HUGE.
  • 21. Mental Approach
    • Success in interviews largely depends on your mentality going into it.
    Reduce your nerves by:
    • Remembering that interviewers get nervous too
    • 22. Reminding yourself that you have strengths and that it’s just as important for the company to impress you as it is for you to impress the company
  • Interviewers Get Nervous too
    • How many of you have ever done an interview?
    • 23. How many of you would like to?
    • 24. How many of you would be nervous….seriously?
  • Intelligent Questions & SPIN Selling
    • You always have the opportunity to ask questions in an interview. Don’t feel you necessarily need to wait until the end of the interview – there’s always an opportunity to ask questions, particularly if you’re being asked a question you don’t know the answer to
    • 25. Ask about the company, its products, its market.
    • 26. Ask about the role and the prospects within it. Ask about career path and where the job is going.
    • 27. Use the answers you get to adapt your “pitch”.
  • Dumb Questions not to ask
    • Don’t ask how much the job is paying – make the company want you before you negotiate salary. If you’re asked what you’re looking for in a salary, be honest but brave.
    • 28. Don’t ask what the working hours are
    • 29. Don’t ask how many holidays you get
    • 30. Don’t ask how long you get for lunch
    • 31. Don’t ask these questions at all, even if you can’t think of other questions.
  • Features v Benefits
    Try and talk about what you’ve achieved rather than just who you are.
    Saying you’re “hard-working, reliable and a really fast learner” won’t get you anywhere
    Telling people that you edited the Uni newspaper / started your own business / worked three jobs whilst studying makes the same point in a much better way
  • 32. Tough Interview Questions you’re bound to hear
    What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    This is a stupid question. If you get asked it, try this response:
    “Well, my strengths are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M…etc. Oh, and I haven’t got any weaknesses.”
  • 33. Tough Interview Questions you’re bound to hear
    Give me an example of a time when you did X
    This is a competency-based interview question designed to avoid a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question like “have you done X before?” (The most common one is “an example of a time when you worked really hard on multiple projects”)
    To answer these, always stick to the truth. These are hard in graduate interviews, but stick to simple examples. Don’t make stuff up – you’ll only fall over later on.
  • 34. More examples of tough questions?
  • 35. The Company’s on interview too…
    By then end of an interview, you should be at the point where you could confidently accept the job if you were offered it.
    Remember that the company must impress you as much as you must impress them.
  • 36. Close the interview
    • You’ll often hear that it’s a good trick to try and “close” during the interview – I.e. ask the interviewer what they though.
    • This may work for salespeople, but in truth it makes the interviewer feel awkward and puts them off.
    • 37. If they like you enough, they’ll tell you without you asking.
  • What really goes on in an interviewer’s mind?
    Can this person do the job?
    Can this person excel at this job?
    Would this person fit in?
    Do I like this person?
    Can I get this person interested in joining us?
  • 38. For more hints, tips, help....
    Go to – full of hints, tips, insider secrets
    Or e-mail me: