You’ve managed to impress your future employer with your CV and you’ve been invited for a sit down interview. Congratulations! You don’t want to embarrass yourself, so you spend an hour before the interview practising your lines and doing extra research on your dream company. After speaking with the interviewer for almost an hour, you’re exhausted but glad you got it done. A few days later, you receive an email you dreaded seeing:
“After careful consideration I regret to inform you that on this occasion we have decided not to progress your application any further…”
However, there is another possibility. Where you did everything right, from the creation of your CV to how you portrayed yourself in the interview. You wait for days, knowing you aced the interview and that you will soon be accepted into your dream job. Instead, you receive an email that says,
“Hi, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us about the position. We enjoyed getting to know you and we’d like to invite you for a second interview at our office.”
Even if you do well in the interview, you’re hit with the surprise that it was only the initial interview. So if you succeed, you have to deal with another interview before you’re finally accepted for the job. If you fail the interview, you have to go through the whole process again as you apply somewhere else. Just how many interviews does it take to get a job? The answer is a little more complicated than you would think.
Why does it take so many interviews?
If you’re one of the lucky few who made it past the second interview, there is a big chance you’ll be called in for your third (and usually final) interview. But that is if you’re able to get past the initial interview.
Here is a fun statistic for you: on average it takes a UK graduate 4 to 5 different interviews before they’re able to even get to the second or third interview. Rejections occur for many reasons, from a lack of apparent confidence, to a weak voice and even a weak handshake. Very petty reasons to make your life difficult, right? Wrong, there is a reason why employers have such high expectations for their applicants.
But why? Why do employers make you go through such a nerve-wracking gauntlet before they’re able to make a decision on you? You must look at it from their perspective, it is as nerve-wracking for the employer as it is for you. They are looking for someone capable of doing the job and not causing issues in the workplace. So, they need to find someone perfect for the job, otherwise they would have wasted effort on someone they would have to let go.
The way companies do this changes, depending on the industry, but on average the interviewees attend 3 rounds of interviews. The first will occur over the phone (or Zoom, in our current age), followed by two face to face interviews. Each interview is designed to weed out employees who would not fit into the company for any reason. From embellishing their CV to simply being unable to get to the office due to commutes. To make sure they’re making the right decision, employers will be as demanding as they feel they need to be. They put their applicant through the gauntlet in order to find the perfect person for the job.
The skill of an interview
At this point you’re either incredibly worried or dealing with a compound anxiety attack with the info you just read. But don’t worry, while the interviewing process is difficult, it is not impossible. You can do this, because ultimately interviewing is a skill, and all skills can be mastered. The reason why it takes four to five attempts for most graduates to get past the sit down interview is because, through their experiences, they have gained the skill of interviewing.
But what do employers want? How can you convince them that you’re the person they want to hire?
The easiest way would be to seek interviews for jobs which you don’t even plan to work in. As mentioned, interviewing is a skill, and all skills require practise in order to master. But even then, practise can only get you so far if you don’t know what skill you’re trying to refine.
The skill aspect when it comes to interviews, is figuring out how to portray yourself as a perfect employee. This doesn’t involve introducing your personality to your employer, rather it involves adding more dimensions to your CV. You were brought to the interview because of the apparent skills already listed on your CV, but you need to prove in an interview that you actually know how to use these skills. But how do you do that? While there are many auxiliary techniques, such as being confident in your words and looking your interviewer in the eye, there is still one base technique you need: the S.T.A.R Technique.
Preparing for an interview
The S.T.A.R technique is useful for showing you know how to use the skills you listed in your CV. This technique has four components, and to explain them, here is the example of a content creator.
Component 1: Providing a Situation
Let’s say that you once were working on a plan with a team to market a product. But you felt that the team were not properly including the younger audience of the product’s marketing plan.
Component 2: Explaining the Task
You needed to figure out how to steer the marketing team toward including a younger audience.
Component 3: The Action
Through your own personal experience with a younger generation and your usage of social media, you were able to utilise the current memes, as well as your skill in writing to make advertisements, which would get the attention of younger audiences.
Component 4: Displaying Results
Thanks to your work, you were able to persuade the rest of the team to follow your example, allowing the marketing plan to get the attention of more people.
So you have the technique, you know what to expect and you have the experience, but have you properly prepared? Most graduates don’t spend enough time preparing for their interview. Unfortunately, that leaves most people woefully unprepared for the interview.
Usually, graduates spend between 30 and 40 minutes preparing for an interview. In reality, they should spend between 30 and 40 hours. Daunting indeed, but the necessary research and preparation for the interview makes the 40 hour requirement essential.
Written by Ohiozoje Aig-Imoukhuede