Post by Laura Burden, final year student at Hallam
So if, like me, you’re coming to the end of your time studying at Sheffield Hallam, you’re probably starting to think about getting one of those job things. I’ve had a few job interviews recently; I wanted to share some of my experiences and tips.
Let’s assume, for the purpose of this post, that you’ve secured an interview. Pat yourself on the back because that in itself isn’t easy. Clearly, there’s something in your application that they like!
So here’s a bit of a roundup of what I do before, during and after a job interview.
No matter what I know about an organisation, I do a sweep of all the interview and job description information I’ve had and make notes. Then a quick Google search and a poke around their website provides some more general information about the company.
It’s all useful to know and trust me; it’s really obvious when you’ve done your research.
Know where you’re going and who you’re meeting
If I’m not sure where I’m going I do as much research as possible about the place I’ll be going to for my interview – is there parking available, what time will the train arrive there, what if the train’s late?
I’ve arrived more than an hour early for an interview before because I was nervous about being late, thankfully there was somewhere nearby where I could have a coffee. Try to arrive no more than 15 minutes early.
Typically you’ll need to bring some ID with you such as a passport. You might also need proof of any qualifications you mentioned on your application so, don’t forget your certificates. I also like to have some water with me (although it’s usually provided in interviews) and some pens and paper. Make sure to check the interview information and see whether you need to do any prep, in the past I’ve had to prepare a presentation and take it with me.
What type of interview is it?
I’ve been to group interviews, presentation interviews, panel interviews and one-to-one interviews; it just depends on the organisation, department and specific role you’re applying for. Each interview type has its pros and cons, usually I find it less nerve-wracking if there’s more than one person interviewing but really it depends on the people! It’s always important to know what type of interview you’re going to, and try to find out the name/s of the interviewers.
First impressions are vital
I know it’s a cliché but it’s true.
Dress smartly (yes, you have to iron your shirt), smile, introduce yourself, shake hands with your interviewers, please and thank you etc. Don’t sit down until a seat is offered, sit up straight, listen to your interviewers carefully and ask for clarification if you’re unsure about something.
Make eye contact and nod or respond where appropriate. Address the person who has asked you the question but also make eye contact with the other members of the panel.
Top tip – have a look at the job specification; you can usually work out what kind of questions you’ll get. I’ve had questions on personal strengths and weaknesses, working through a difficult situation, why I would be suitable for the role, and everything in between.
I definitely recommend having a couple of examples of situations you’ve been in and do some personal reflection.
If you’re struggling to think of the best example to use or how to answer a question, ask if you can come back to it. I’ve done this a few times – they aren’t judging you for it.
The most important thing to remember for interviews – use the STAR technique.
I’m really bad for waffling and trying to cram in a lot of information – have you noticed? The STAR technique helps me give focused, concise answers.
Situation – Who, what, when, where and why
Task – What was the challenge or problem, what was the end goal?
Action – What did YOU do?
Result – What was the outcome?
Ask your own questions
Always ask at least one question yourself. It shows you’re interested – in the job, the company, the people sat in front of you. Rather than trying to think something up on the spot, I tend to go with a few questions in mind, and then whatever isn’t answered; you’ve got some questions to hand.
Just make sure you don’t ask anything that’s already been answered.
After the interview
Before you leave, make sure they have your contact details and that you know when they will contact you. When they do get in touch, I make sure to thank them for their time and for contacting me, I also always ask for feedback on my interview – even if I’m offered the position.
If you need to take a day to consider a job offer, don’t be afraid to ask for some time. Remember, even though a job offer over the phone is brilliant, it’s not binding, and it’s important to ensure you get some kind of written offer.
Good luck out there and remember to check out the Careers Central Interviews page for more advice, tips and to book a mock interview if you’re feeling unprepared or unsure!