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About this book

This practical guide is packed with targeted guidance on navigating each aspect of the interview process, from planning for an interview to creating a strong first impression, so that students can approach interviews with confidence. It shows students how to identify their skills and how best to communicate these to employers through hands-on activities which encourage students to practise crafting answers to common questions and create strategies for dealing with difficult ones. It also features a chapter dedicated to telephone, video and Skype interviews, complete with sample questions and preparation checklists. Insights from recruiters and real-life experiences of other candidates demonstrate the dos and don’ts at different stages of the process.

This book is ideal for use on personal development and career planning modules, and also for use by students or graduates as a standalone career planning resource.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
This book is aimed at university students looking for graduate jobs, students looking for placements and internships and also postgraduates and recent graduates. Graduate job changers will also find it valuable, as will graduate recruiters and careers staff in schools and universities. Although aimed at new graduates, much of the content will hold value throughout your working life. As a university careers adviser, I find that many students, despite being outwardly confi dent, are worried about finding a job after graduation, especially those studying non-vocational degrees. Because they are worried, they sometimes leave things until the last minute, hoping the problem will go away. The graduate job market is demanding, and getting a graduate job requires careful research, planning and commitment.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter Chapter 1. Preparing for the interview

Abstract
If you have been called for an interview, you are already halfway to your objective of getting a job offer. It shows that the employer is seriously interested in you and that your application is on the right lines. Employers only shortlist a handful of candidates, so you should congratulate yourself on getting this far. You won’t get far trying to sink an unsharpened axe into a tree trunk, nor will you be successful at interviews without careful preparation. There are no short cuts To make a change in any part of your life, you must commit the time to do so. The most important factor determining success at interview is good preparation. Most interviews are lost before the interviewee even enters the room. An interview is a game where you know most of the rules and must play by them.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 2. First impressions

Abstract
If you go by car, you have the advantage of being able to wait in it if you arrive early. If the weather is fine, you may like to walk around the area: exercise will help to keep nerves at bay. Aim to arrive at the location about 15 minutes before your interview. Being late for an interview is inexcusable and will probably lead to rejection. If you cant arrive on time for an interview, how can you be trusted to be on time for important meetings? Also, when you arrive, you will probably have to report to reception and be given instructions for where to go for your interview. If it a big building, it may take some time to get there. The reason some people are always late for appointments is that they greatly underestimate the time they need to get
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 3. Types of interview question

Abstract
As the diagram on the next page shows, there are many different types of interview question. This chapter introduces these types and teaches you strategies to handle these. The most common type of interview questions - competency questions - is such a large topic that it has a chapter all to itself. Open questions are those which can’t be answered with just ‘yes’ or ‘no’, such as ‘Why do you want this job?’, ‘What do you know about our organization?’ and ‘Why did you go to university? These are the normal type of interview question and give you a chance to sell yourself. They start with Who, What, Where, When, Which, Why or How. Good open questions help you crystallize your thoughts and help the interviewer to understand your views, feelings and attitudes. Closed questions Closed questions can be answered with just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Examples include these: ‘You studied law at university?’, ‘So, you did badly in your maths exams at school?’ and ‘Are you a leader?’
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 4. How to STAR at competency questions

Abstract
Competency just means a skill or ability. Competencies are the key skills organizations look for in staff as they are linked to successful performance. Competency-based questions are the most common questions in graduate interviews and are the hardest part of the interview for many applicants. These questions work on the theory that past experience is the basis for future performance and so ask for examples of what you have done that will give the interviewer evidence that you got the necessary skills to succeed in the job. To get a graduate job, you need the right skills to do it. To be successful, you must identify the skills you’re good at and present evidence to show you hold these skills at interview.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 5. Types of interview

Abstract
The single interviewer In larger organizations, the interviewer will probably be from the HR department, but in a smaller organization this person may be a manager from the department you would be joining. In this case, the manager may not be a trained interviewer and may not ask the standard interview questions. Two-to-one interviews These typically involve an HR manager and a line manager from the function for which you are applying. This can be more demanding as the questions come from two people, so you may have less time to think. Panel interviews In panel interviews, you are interviewed by three or more interviewers representing
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 6. Interviews for different roles

Abstract
These are typically highly structured competency interviews with most questions closely based on the job description, so have examples of evidence relating to the person specification ready. In the public sector, there are few spontaneous questions, and everything is asked with a purpose, as employers must demonstrate fairness and openness. Each candidate is asked identical questions, so these interviews are less biased but can be rigid, making it hard to appreciate the interviewee personality. A strong emphasis is placed on equal opportunities, with questions on how you would treat someone of a different race, religion, sex or disability, so give no suggestion of prejudice when answering. Show you understand the importance of everyone getting the same opportunities. One way is to give examples.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 7. Telephone, Skype and video interviews

Abstract
many jobs - more than half of all large companies now use them. This is because they are very cost-effective as no travel costs need be paid by either party, and they are easy to arrange and quick to carry out. You don’t need to arrange an interview room or look after the candidate. Increasingly for graduate training schemes, the next stage after a telephone interview is an assessment centre, with no face-toface interview in between, although you would then get a face-to-face interview as part of the assessment centre. What are their advantages and disadvantages? The advantage for you is that they save you time and money: you don–t need to travel to interview or dress up or even dress at all. One student said she had conducted the interview in her pyjamas. You also have the advantage that you can refer to your CV or application form and notes on how to answer likely questions.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 8. The end of the interview and afterwards

Abstract
When you are asked if you have any questions, it’s a sign that the interview is drawing to its close. Ask intelligent questions; this was covered in Chapter 1, ‘Preparing for the interview’. Check the next steps. If it hasn’t already been made clear, ask whether this is the only interview and, if not, what the next stage would be and when you will hear the decision. Last impressions linger! After the start of the interview, the end is the part interviewers most remember, so be enthusiastic. Smile, shake hands firmly and say how much you enjoyed the meeting. Try to address the interviewer by name: ‘I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed this interview Ms Kowalski, and I really like what I’ve heard about the company.’ Don’t, of course, ask how you’ve done.
Bruce Woodcock

Chapter 9. Try a practice interview

Abstract
Think of a job that you are particularly keen on getting, and then ask yourself the following questions. Have a real job and employer in mind that you would like to work for when you answer the questions, as this will make it more realistic. Each time you have a practice interview, or a real one for that matter, your anxiety is likely to reduce a little due to a process called desensitization. You can write your answers down on paper, but - even better - dictate them into a voice recorder so you can listen to how you would sound to an interviewer.
Bruce Woodcock
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