You are sitting there in an interview chair. The panel are looking at you, the fierce looking lady from HR with too much make-up opens her mouth – the moment you have been dreading – the first question…
Well, you might be dreading it, but mostly that will be because it is something that you haven’t done before or that you are unfamiliar with – the fear of the unknown. Well, lets break down a few barriers and talk about the structure of an interview and what you can expect. There are some great resources available to support this article on the University of Kent Careers pages that go into more detail than I can here.
The first thing they will do is ask you a warm up question – how was your journey?
Where have you come from? Did you find us ok? I’m going to be honest here – they actually couldn’t care less how the motorway network affected your journey. The question is designed to warm you up and get you talking. But also so that they can gauge what type of person you are. Use this as an opportunity to become a bit chatty with them and build a rapport.
Then come the real questions.
They will start with something that tests your knowledge about the company and the role and probably your awareness of the sector(s) that they operate in. The easiest way of answering these is by doing some research be forehand. There is no quick way of doing this. Have a read of the commercial awareness blog post we put up recently.
You will then be asked a series of competency or situational questions. There is a really good guide to answering these questions on the Careers webpages. In addition to this, think about the question you are being asked and decide whether you intend to accept the premise of the question. Often people are keen to jump straight in and give lists of examples rather than take the time out to give a well-structured comprehensive answer.
An example; ‘Tell us what you know about the Antwerp Office’ is not a question about the Antwerp Office. The immediate response is to list off what you know about what they do at this office. A stronger answer will talk about the wider company, its aims and objectives and how the Antwerp Office fits into this. It will talk about key stakeholders and competitors and will show an understanding of why the office is in Antwerp. The same level of answer can be given to any company in any sector of any size. It is about research and understanding who is interviewing you and what they are looking for.
There are other types of questions that often get asked – negative questions, closed questions, hypothetical questions. Ultimately, they ask them in order to get to know you. A bad hire is expensive so they use the interview to see what you know and how well you would fit in. The fact you are being interviewed shows that they think you could do the job.
We offer 1-2-1 mock interviews and interview training for current students and recent graduates – just give us a call to book a slot with one of the Employability Advisers.