So, you’ve received an email back from a company you applied for saying you have made it through to the next stage. What now? In the digital world that we live in recruiters have an increasing number of ways to assess applicants. Despite this, interviews are still the primary method of screening applicants as it allows recruiters to look beyond the answers. Interviews allow recruiters to see your body language, ability to handle stress, communications skills amongst other traits within a natural conversation. Here are a few tips on how to prepare yourself for an interview.
Nothing is worse than not knowing the organisation that you have applied for during an interview. You will need a deeper understanding of the company for the interview compared to the application stage. Researching a company demonstrates that you are invested in the role whilst simultaneously analysing if it is what you want in an employer. 51% of Australians felt that the company they worked for didn’t align with their initial impressions (seek.com) making research crucial.
Knowing the company’s mission and values helps you to better align your own strengths and weaknesses with that of the company’s. This will come in handy when using the STAR method to answering interview questions which we will discuss in another blog post. Most companies will have a unique selling point to their product or service (e.g. cheaper, faster or higher quality). Knowing this USP can go a long way in creating your answers. For example, if you know that a company is heavily focused on being innovative then most of your answers should be geared towards that area. This type of information can usually be found in the company’s mission statement which outlines the company’s values and offering.
The company’s latest achievements and news is also another area that should be researched. Did they win an innovation award? Were they the eco-friendliest company in the industry? Having this knowledge shows you are invested in the company and opens up new topics of conversation. This is crucial as it affords you the opportunity to build rapport with your interviewer. Interviews are as much about your skills and experiences as it is about you as a person. They are constantly assessing you as a person and whether you will be a good fit to their team. Asking the interviewer about the latest project they’re working on shows them that you are keeping up to date with the happenings of that company. It also allows you to gain insight into the type of work that they are undertaking and your potential job if they decide to employ you.
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Reviewing your application and your resume is crucial before an interview. Many of us students play the percentages and send off hundreds of applications in the hope of getting a reply. By the fifth application you’ve forgotten what you’ve said in your first application. To get around this, keep a word document of all the questions that you have answered during the application process and your answers. This ensures that you remember what you have told each company as we often tailor our answers to each company. This also allows you to review the questions and your answers the next time you apply should you be unsuccessful.
Read back over the job advertisement and make a note of the specific duties of the role and the requirements. This allows you to tailor your answers specifically to the role and match your strengths with what is needed. This will allow you to make a much stronger representation of yourself than answering in a generic manner. Often the description will also include details such as remuneration so be sure to take a note of this information and ask questions about it.
Write Down Questions
As I said before, interviewers often ask if you have any questions at the end. ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS PREPARED! If you don’t then it seems like you either haven’t done your homework or you didn’t care about the role enough to have questions. Remember, an interview is not just about the company finding out about you but also you are finding out about the company. So, use this time to find out if the company is what you look for in an employer. Some examples of questions you might ask include:
- What would a typical day in this role involve?
- What is the ideal candidate that you would like to hire in this role?
- What are the learning opportunities in this role and the company?
- Does the company offer any incentives to further my education? (e.g. subsidize a relevant tertiary course)
- What are the benefits of working at this company?
This is probably one of the most important parts of the interview – answering the questions. The best way to do this is to use the STAR Method.
Let’s use an example – “Tell me about a time where you demonstrated leadership”
S – Situation [This is where you set the scenario for your pending story which adds credibility]: I was working on a high school project where we were designing a small F1 C02 powered wooden car. We were in a group of 5.
T – Task [What was the task that you had to accomplish, should be a problem that allows you to demonstrate leadership or what is they asked you about]: We had to finish designing our car before the deadline which was in 10 days and we had barely made any progress which caused the team morale to decrease.
A – Action [What actions did you take to rectify the issue] I had a quick team meeting where I helped the team understand the objectives and what needed to be done. I also gave a great pep talk which helped boost morale.
R – Result [What was the result?] In the end we finished the car with a day to spare and the team was ecstatic. I was told by a teacher that without my actions, this wouldn’t have happened.
This framework works, so make sure you use it in interviews.
Well that’s our tips for interviews for our high school students/leavers. Goodluck!