How to smash your graduate scheme interview and get that bread
Not like you spent the last three years working up to this or anything
After seemingly endless applications you’ve finally landed yourself an interview – CONGRATULATIONS!!! It’s been a saga. But now there’s a new challenge to face, the graduate scheme interview itself. Which, as a generation who’d rather text or DM on Insta than have a phone call or, god forbid an actual face-to-cafe conversation with someone, is terrifying.
But, don’t panic. I’ve scoured the internet for the best graduate scheme interview tips so that you can get the job and never, ever have to apply for a grad scheme again (you’re welcome).
Read below for some simple advice and handy links for further reading (if you don’t feel have enough to do from your seminars already):
1) Find out the format of your graduate scheme interview
Each interview type involves a slightly different process, here are some of the most common:
These are often one of the first types of interview you’ll experience. They’re used to make sure candidates meet the basic job requirements and help filter out those that BS’d their way through their cover letter and CV.
For these, make sure you’re in a quiet area, away from rowdy housemates yelling about their latest hookups or testing out the speakers for pres. Make sure to have your CV nearby in case you need to refer to it and any notes on the role/company you’re applying to (just in case the interview reels off some tricky questions about the companies’ history*).
*Sadly phone a friend is not an option.
There are two variations within this category: Skype interviews and recorded question interviews.
For Skype interviews, jump to the face-to-face interview section.
Recorded question interviews are basically a way for employers to screen you, to make sure you fit the company culture and can communicate well. After all the applications you’ve done, these will feel super easy – like with the online application forms, you’ll have time to research properly and prep your answers for every question.
Just remember, this is the first time the employer will be able to see you, so make sure you dress smartly, speak clearly and don’t have any dodgy posters in the background (and for god’s sake, make your bed!).
These can be held separately, but are often part of an assessment centre day. As the interviewer can see you, make sure you’re looking smart and presentable. If you’re unsure what to wear, the best practice is to slightly overdress – it’s better to seem more professional than less. Also, make sure you’re fully prepared for their questions, as you won’t have notes on hand, and that you turn up on time (10 minutes before is ideal – any earlier and you risk being an inconvenience).
2) Research the employer
Have a Google or head to the company’s website to learn more about what it does, the company’s values and how it operates within the industry as a whole. Also, make sure you know about any awards they’ve won or recent campaigns you think were particularly successful. This information will show the interviewer that you really want to work there (and that it isn’t just the one, out of hundreds of applications you sent, that replied to you).
3) Plan your answers to common graduate scheme interview questions
Most interviewers have a set group of questions they’ll ask you, which means these they’re pretty easy to prep for. The hardest bit is working out what your answer should be and how to show off why you’re the best person for the role. Once that’s done, you just need to get comfortable responding to them naturally (too robotic and the interviewer will be put off).
Here are some examples for the more difficult ones:
“I’m a perfectionist” – Here’s how to properly respond to the dreaded “what’s your biggest strength and weakness” interview question.
“Let’s not fight” – Not sure what to say when you get asked “how do you deal with conflict” in an interview? Here’s a step by step guide to your perfect answer.
“Employed by you” – How to, and how not to, answer “where do you see yourself in five years?” without sounding like your life ended at graduation.
It’s also a good idea to prepare at least one question to ask at the end, as this shows that you’re interested in more than the paycheck attached to the job description.
4) Dress the part
Basically, you want to look like you already work there. If you’re in a t-shirt and jeans and they’re in suits then they’ll assume you’re not the right cultural fit. One of the best ways of sussing this out is by stalking through the company’s social media pages and seeing what the employees featured are wearing.
If you’re still struggling to decide, always dress slightly more smart than you’d naturally think.