Nailing your interview: The one guide to rule them all

Interviews. The age-old nemesis of the student job hunter, feared by all who seek that dream job, and used mercilessly by employers through any manner mediums, be it phone, video, or face-to-face. But here at JobLab we want to put the power back in the hands of applicants like you. We want to make sure you are fully armed and prepared for whatever may come your way at interview. This guide will be your sword and your shield, with which you will have the strength to smite the beast and emerge victorious! So study it well dear friends, and become a force to be reckoned with...

Days before the interview


1. Research the company


Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So you have got to do your research! First and foremost, you’ve got to know the company inside-out. Research their history as a company, find out how big they are, what services they offer and who they sell to. Try and figure out what makes this company unique, and why that appeals to you.


2. Research the industry


This can really make you stand out from the crowd, and shows genuine motivation to do the role to the employer. Get googling and see if you can find a few nuggets of recent news from their industry, or maybe an article on some recent industry trends. You may well find stuff that even your interviewer will not know, which is sure to impress. You could even do some research into who their competitors are, and what they have to offer. Know your enemy…


3. Research the role


The employer wants to know that you know what you’re getting yourself in for. You’re probably not going to be an expert, but it’s good to make sure you have some idea of what the role entails on a day-to-day basis, and the skills needed to be successful. Now the employer also wants to feel like you would be up to the task, so you need to put their mind at ease. Try and match up your skills and experience with the job requirements, so that you can really sell yourself effectively.


4. Research who is interviewing you


You would stalk your tinder date on facebook right? Making a great first impression with an interviewer, particularly with a face-to-face interview can be made much simpler with a little prior knowledge of who is across the table from you. What is their role within the company? What is their area of expertise. Do you think they would prioritise soft skills or technical knowledge? You might even come across a hobby or interest that you have in common. Great as an icebreaker.


5. Research common interview questions


If you were the interviewer, what would you ask? The internet is full of common interview questions that you will be sure to come up against. Why [company], why [job] and why [industry] are all classics. Be aware of STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Response) type questions, and practise answering a few. They often start with the phrase “tell me about a time you …”, so watch out for that as a prompt.


And finally, it’s good to have a question or two to ask the employer, to show your interest in the role. You may well find yourself coming up with one as the interview progresses which is great. Most importantly, DON’T ASK ABOUT SALARY.


On the day of the interview


You’ve prepared well, you know you're ready, and you just want to get stuck in. On the day of the interview, it’s all about getting the basics right:


  • Know the dress code - Save yourself any embarrassment, and when in doubt, play it safe. If the dress code is casual, it does not mean you should turn up wearing flip-flops and your favourite festival garm.
  • Be 5-10 mins early - so much better than 5 minutes late
  • Have contact details to hand if you are running late - an excellent way to rescue a non-ideal situation when your train gets delayed, and an excellent provider of peace-of-mind
  • Bring a CV to refer to - good as a prompt when you are trying to place your finger on which piece of work experience you are trying to bring in to the conversation
  • Bring research notes to read in the hour before - a real game-changer in my opinion, that can turn you from nervous wreck to smooth operator.
  • Speak clearly, eye contact, firm handshake, be friendly - remember in many cases your interviewer could become your co-worker. They are going to choose someone they will enjoy working with, so don’t be too cold and lifeless!


After the interview


Brush yourself down and lick your wounds. You survived. You may think the battle is over and done, but in-fact a brief follow-up email of thanks to the employer can help to keep you at the forefront of their considerations. And try to make a note of things that went well or didn’t go well for future reference, as nothing beats real interviews as good interview prep for when your true dream job comes along.


So once more unto the breach dear friends, be strong in heart and mind, and you will be sure to slay this foul foe.