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10 tips for a successful post-education job interview

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With A-Level and GCSE results being revealed this week, many school and college leavers will be preparing to take their first steps into the world of work, and with that entry into the world of job searching comes the interview process. Even for people who have been working for many years, convincing an employer to take a chance on you for their business can be a daunting prospect. So, to help make sure your first interview goes the way you hope, we’ve got some insightful tips to help you prepare. 

Research the company (and the interviewers)

As they’re looking for someone who can get stuck into their role, many interviewers will ask you what you know about the company. They might also expand on this and ask you about opinions you have; what do you think about the company? How do you view the company within its industry? What advantages do the business have over its competitors, or vice-versa? Take some time to thoroughly research the company you’ve applied for, to help you to prepare for questions like these.

Most hiring managers and interviewers will be on professional networking sites nowadays (such as LinkedIn), so take the time to look for them and get a good feel for their background. By chatting about their background too in the interview, you will be able to build up more rapport with the interviewer and will (hopefully) put you more at ease!

Learn more about the role

You want to prove to your interviewer that out of everyone applying for this vacancy, you are the best person for the job. To do that, you’ll need to show that you’ll be able to handle any task or responsibility that the job entails. Spend some time researching the position you’ve applied for, and decide what skills you have that would be best suited for the role.

Practice, practice, practice

Much of what makes a successful interview comes down to what kind of first impression you make. This can come down to how you present yourself in the interview through your mannerisms and how you project your confidence in your skills. To ensure that you are introducing the best version of yourself possible to your interviewer, try practicing the interview beforehand. Ask a friend or family member to role-play as the interviewer and run through some standard interview questions. Ask them to give you pointers on how you sound when answering questions, and if there is anything you need to keep in mind, such as maintaining eye contact or avoiding shifting in your seat. 

Provide References

You wouldn’t buy a product without seeing its reviews; The same goes for an employer hiring a candidate. So, you’ll need to provide some references to back up your reasons for why you are the right person for the job. Make sure that any reference you give is a valid and reputable one. For example, teachers & coaches would be ideal for highlighting to an interviewer your positive attributes. 

Make sure you’re prepared

All the above points lead to the most essential factor for an interview: be prepared. Think about everything you need beforehand; do you have any previous pieces of work you need to bring? Has the interviewer asked you to bring your CV? Also, try planning your route to the interview location to avoid being late. 

To help with the practice mentioned above, research some common competency (situation) based questions online line. These are designed to see how you deal with certain situations. For these types of questions, remember the STAR technique when answering (give a background the Situation, explain the Task you had to do, give an overview of the Action you took/would take and then end with a positive Result.)

Write and refine your CV

As the first impression, your potential employer will have of you, your CV must paint the perfect picture of who you are and what you bring to the table. Try tailoring your CV to the role you’re applying for, highlighting how your skills and positive attributes can be applied to the role. Also, make sure to include any informal experience or achievements. You want your CV to create an image in your interviewer’s mind, so they know who they are meeting. 

Stay calm & professional

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people, especially for someone who has never been in one before. But it’s important to remember that your mannerisms and presentation are essential to your success. Make sure to take a deep breath before your interview begins, and take your time answering any questions. Your interviewer will have gone through a good number of applicants and will want to make sure you are completely comfortable. 

Be fully honest & transparent

All employers expect their employees to be fully honest about all aspects of themselves, from their previous work experience to any issues they have had in their personal life, e.g. any prior offences or convictions. So, you must begin this working relationship by being fully honest about your experience and of anything that may be highlighted in a background check. It’s also important to be honest about any outside responsibilities that may clash with your work schedule.

Always ask questions

Interviewers like to see someone who takes initiative and asks questions about the company or the role that they wouldn’t have found themselves. While you’re researching the business and the position, prepare some questions to highlight your interest in the job and how thorough your research has been.  Try to show an interest in the future of the company as well as your role. This will demonstrate ambition and a determination to progress in the position. To make sure that there is no stone left unturned, we always advise that you ask the interviewer(s) if there is anything that they would like further clarity on. This will enable you to cover anything that you may have potentially missed earlier in the interview.

Thank the interviewer for their time

As we mentioned earlier, interviews are all about making a great first impression, and that includes leaving things on a high note. There’s no use nailing the perfect interview if you leave then leave badly and give the employer the wrong impression of you. To avoid this, be sure to thank the interviewer for the time they’ve taken to speak with you and let them know to get in touch with you if there’s anything else they need. You want the interviewer to go away thinking you are the perfect person for the role, and a polite and considerate exit will go a long way towards achieving this. 

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