Bagged an interview? Now here's how you can smash it.
Securing an interview can feel like a big part of the challenge when applying for a graduate job, so making sure you don’t let the opportunity go to waste is important. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview and ensure you stand out to employers is by knowing your stuff.
Doing your research not only suggests to an employer that you're knowledgeable and genuinely interested in the role, but also guarantees that you'll be prepared for the interview. The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel about it; you know what they say, knowledge is power.
So where do you start with research? How much should you know? And is it possible to know too much?
What should you know about before an interview?
Knowing the company's mission and values is essential. With this information, you can position your skills in line with what the company values in their employees. For example, if open and honest communication is important to them, come prepared with some evidence of your amazing communication skills. This will suggest that firstly, you've bothered to research the company, but also that your skill-set fits perfectly with what they look for in employees.
You can usually find information about the company through their website or on the 'About' section of their LinkedIn page. News articles about the company are also useful - you'll impress interviewers by knowing the latest updates, and you might find some quotes from big names in the company during your search. These, and the company's social media pages, provide insight into exactly how they want to present themselves to consumers.
Having some basic knowledge of the industry and who the company's biggest competitors are is also handy. Any nuggets of knowledge that others may not have will help make you stand out.
First and foremost, you should know the name and job role of the person, or people, interviewing you. The more you know about them, the easier it'll be hold a conversation. A recruitment expert we spoke to says "I once knew an interviewer liked Disney so managed to reference a Disney film during the interview. Laugh all you want, but I got the job." So although demonstrating your skills and experience is important, finding common ground and getting along with the interviewer won't go amiss.
You should also know who the key players are in the company and what role they play. Do some research on LinkedIn and read the description they've given of their job role. Name-dropping them during the interview will show you know your stuff.
Make sure you know what the job entails and the skills they want from you. This sounds obvious, but if you're applying for loads of similar jobs all at once you'll know that getting them mixed up isn't a difficult mistake to make. Read between the lines of the job description to determine what skills and qualities will be useful in the role and provide evidence that you've got these skills in the interview.
As a graduate, particularly if you're applying for a job that's not directly related to your degree, there might be some information or terminology in the job description you don't fully understand. Make sure you're clued up about this before the interview and spend some time thinking about what transferable skills are relevant to the role. This will help you if you lack direct experience in the industry you're applying for.
The questions you intend to ask
Having questions ready to ask (a few, in case they're answered throughout the interview) shows you're genuinely interested in the company and the role you're applying for. You can also use the questions to show off some of the research you've done.
Is it possible to know too much before an interview?
The short answer is no. As GradTouch's Operations Director and recruitment expert Clare says, "there's no such thing as too much research. If it means asking questions you already know the answers to, so be it, but if you've not bothered to do some thorough research beforehand, it says a lot about you and the way you work."
In the digital age, there's no reason not to do a deep dive stalk of your potential employer. If you wouldn't go on a first date without carrying out a thorough investigation of the person's life since they joined Facebook in 2008, you shouldn't show up to an interview without doing something similar. But perhaps don't bring up the time they got really sunburnt on holiday in Greece in 2010.
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