Interviews are an important part of most assessment centres and the job application process. They are designed to help the recruiter understand whether you’ll be a good fit for the role, often using your CV or application form as a starting point.
What is the purpose of an interview?
The interviewer’s role is to establish whether you have the skills necessary to do the job now, but also whether you could develop more skills and continue to progress.
This is one of the reasons that employers run graduate schemes – to find people who have a learning mindset and the intellectual curiosity to continue to grow throughout their career.
Interviews are about demonstrating current skills and future potential. Think about how you can show that you have the desire to continue to learn and develop in the future.
How does an interview work?
The interviewer will probably ask about:
- your background,
- your time at university,
- your skills and experiences
They might use hypothetical questions to see how you would react in different situations and will often ask about your motivation and your understanding of the job.
Some interviews include abstract questions to test your thought process – the interviewer will be looking at how you approach the question, rather than the actual answer.
Interviews will often be one on one, either with a member of the recruitment team or someone from the business. In some cases, you might face a panel interview where two or more interviewers ask questions in turn.
Taking the opportunity to do a mock interview during Employability Week is a great way to practice your interview technique.
Strengths based interviews
Strengths based interviews are becoming increasingly popular amongst employers. They focus on the things that you enjoy and how you feel about different types of challenges to assess your potential performance in the future.
Example questions might include “What type of tasks do you enjoy tackling?” or “What makes a good day for you?”
If you are preparing for a strengths-based interview, think about:
- the achievements and activities that you feel passionate about
- your experiences in the workplace
- the times when you have applied your skills, and how you felt when you did this.
How to prepare for an interview
1. Get your examples ready.
Review the skills and competencies that the employer looks for and think about the examples you’ll use to demonstrate your experience.
Remember, not all of your examples need to be positive. If you can show that you’ve learned from an event that didn’t go according to plan, that tells the interviewer something important about you too.
The “CARL” acronym is a great way to structure your answers:
- Describe the Context,
- talk about the Actions you took to solve the problem,
- summarise the Results of your actions,
- and reflect on what you Learned from the experience.
2. Research your interviewers.
What can you find out about their background? Explore the company website, use LinkedIn, or reach out to alumni who are working for the same organisation.
Knowing something about your interviewer might help you tailor your answers to his or her area of interest.
3. Think about the questions you want to ask.
Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to do so at the end of the interview.
Avoid having nothing to ask, as it doesn’t express your desire to work for the company. Try not to ask obvious questions that are answered on their website.
Find out more about careers in the Financial Services sector