Ace That Interview with These 5 Tips

BY Jessica Saunders |
05/04/18

As part of the internship placements team, every day our team arranges interviews for the students we place into internships. This means we hear feedback daily from the host companies interviewing, whether that be good news or not so favourable news. Along with my experience of hearing feedback straight from our hosts, I have held many interviews myself for various different roles. 

With that in mind, here are 5 of my top tips to being successful at any interview.

1. Show the interviewer your interest in the role

Sometimes we get feedback that students haven’t shown an interest in the role that we have put them forward for. This type of feedback can be frustrating as when we ask, they do have an interest but just didn’t show it. 

Don’t let this let you down. A great time to show interest is when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Use this time to ask questions about the role, and reiterate your interest whilst you do so. For example, “I know you mentioned I would be involved in X Y Z. This sounds really interesting. Can you let me know the main outcome you are looking for on this project?” 

Another way you can do this is to write a thank you note after the interview. You can use this to thank the interviewer for their time but also to reiterate how interesting you found the internship role and why you think you are the right person for it.

2. Ensure you showcase your skills

Make sure you understand the role you are applying for and what it would take to be successful. I understand you may have only theoretical knowledge from university and haven’t yet had a chance to put it into practice, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have any skills. 

Think about the skills that the company would want, and how or where you have shown these whether that’s through university, casual work experience or life itself. You need to prove how these skills can be transferred into the role you are applying for. Certain knowledge can be taught, as long as you have the right skills to prove you are adaptable and up for the challenge.

3. Ensure you answer interview questions clearly

I have interviewed people who don’t answer the question they’ve been asked. I know a lot of the time nerves can be a big factor when trying to understand questions. Please just stop for a second or two to register the question. 

It is so easy to dart straight into answering a question, before realising “Oh no, I don’t even know what the question was!” I would much prefer someone to take their time in answering it or even ask me again what the question was. I remember once when interviewing for a team member, I asked “Tell me about a time when you have had to work as part of a team”/ They rushed into answering how they led a team. That was completely different to what I asked, and not something that I was looking for. 

Please try not to make these types of mistakes. Listen carefully and take in the question before answering. 

4. Show great attitude 

Just today I was given great proof as to how having a great attitude can really help you be successful at an interview. I had a student attend an interview with a great company who was looking for fairly strong technical skills. This student couldn’t demonstrate strong technical skills but did prove how keen they were to learn. In the words of the host mentor, “I really admired that attitude and I want to help develop them”. 

If they hadn’t of shown such a strong desire to learn, along with great personable skills, the chances are the host would not have selected them for the internship. If you are struggling answering about your technical skills, don’t just give up with the idea that you have failed – prove why they should believe in you!

5. Just be you

This has to be the piece of advice I offer to every single one of my students. When I interview I want to be able to come out of that interview and know who the person I just interviewed was. I have walked out of so many interviews and thought to myself, “Well I still don’t really know anything more about that person, than what I did by looking at their resume”. Particularly when I used to recruit for support workers, getting to know people’s personality and character was vital in being able to match them to people whom they would support. 

I encourage everyone to try show a bit of personality. Our hosts want to find someone whom they think will fit well into their teams, and the only way they can do that is if you show them who you are. Don’t be afraid to do so! 

The next time you’re up for an interview, remember these 5 tips and you’ll be well on your way to success!

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