Guest blog by a Kent graduate: How to be successful through the interview process

I have recently gained a place on a Management Trainee scheme at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and wanted to share a few ways I feel you can be successful though the interview process. The process at Enterprise consisted of a telephone interview, a HR interview, a branch visit and finally one of those dreaded assessment centres. But before you even apply, a few quick tips: use an appropriate email address for all of your communication, do your research, and make the most of the help offered by the University’s employability department.

Everyone will tell you that first impressions are so important in an interview, and on the telephone only the things you say and the way you say them can create these impressions. Its always a good idea on the telephone to speak slightly slower than you would normally, and smile as you speak. This will allow you to present yourself well on the phone. Make sure you are in a nice quite location for the telephone interview as this also creates a good impression. Unfortunately the sounds of the Student Union bar in the background whilst doing your telephone interview do not create the same good impression. Last tip, have your notes in front of you, even if you don’t use them you will feel confident knowing they are there.

Once you have passed the telephone interview, you will be invited to a HR interview, you are now ready to meet your recruiter face to face. Now you have to up your game and really make sure you have researched the company and the role. You can feel confident at this stage knowing you have the right skills for the job, all you have to do is prove it! Do practice interviews with whoever you can as the more practice you do, the more confident you will be on the day. Remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Now you have passed your HR interview you will be invited to a branch visit/interview. My key piece of advice here is to talk to everyone, ask lots of questions and most importantly be yourself. Try to get a real feel of the work environment, as don’t forget, the interview process is for your benefit as much as it is the company’s. You will always be told that it looks good in interviews to ask questions. At this stage of the interview process this fact couldn’t be more true. The more you engage with your interviewer the better. Throughout the visit, offer to help out where you can, and if you leave at the end of the day without breaking anything, you have done a half decent job!

The last stage in the interview process is the assessment centre, where you will participate in lots of different activities. At the assessment centre do the best you can on every activity. The trick is to try and work out what skills the assessors are looking for in each task, and then prove to the assessor that you have these skills to the point where you leave no doubt in there mind. Throughout the day make sure you talk to all candidates and staff (make sure everyone knows your name), use every opportunity to sell yourself and keep a very open mind. But before you walk into the assessment centre at the start of the day, make sure you ask yourself one thing: ‘Would I have got to this stage if I was not the right person for the job?’ The answer is ‘Of course I wouldn’t have’.

– Joshua Murphy (University of Kent Accounting and Finance Graduate)

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