How to win Interviews

Jun 26, 2013

It is obvious that competition in the graduate recruitment market is increasing. In 2010, the number of applicants for each graduate entry position was 85. Three years later there are 160 graduates chasing each job.

So if competition for graduate jobs is increasing, what does that say about the way graduates go about preparing themselves to get a job? Clearly, if you want to win that job, as the battle heats up, so must your tactics.

The battlefield is just the place where the winning strategies for getting the job is played out; it is the preparation before you get there that matters.

As a graduate coach, everyday I meet and speak to young people who are woefully unprepared for the tough task of winning in the interview room. They blunder through the whole process and then hope they get the job, and in so doing they risk their chances of getting it. If you really want to get a good graduate job the simple and obvious truth is that you need to ensure you are more skilfully prepared at every stage, from beginning to end, than the next equally qualified candidate.

If you are a graduate looking for a good job you need to

  • Be clear on what you have to offer an employer so that you can make the most of every opportunity that comes your way
  • Understand what the interviewer wants before you get into the interview room so that you can convince them you’re the right person.

These are advantages that can be developed and nurtured through career coaching, CV writing, carrying out research and lots of practice on how to answer and ask questions well. If you do your homework in each of these areas, then you will be a whole lot more confident in the interview room.

Small improvements in your job findings skills make a big difference

In a speech on doing all you can do to become all you can be, the entrepreneur Mac Anderson quotes a law of science that says that at 211 degrees water is very hot, but at 212 is boils – just one degree difference turns it into the steam that powers a locomotive.

Another example can be seen in the training approach adopted by GB cycling coach Dave Brailsford. He trained the Olympic team by focusing on small incremental gains on every dimension. In total Dave monitored 15

different ‘ridermetrics’ to ensure that going into a race the cyclists are just that little bit better at everything than everyone else.

Similarly, if you want to get the job you have to do your prep, and then some. You have to do that bit more than the other candidates to create a lasting impression and memory in the interviewer.

It is this combination of lots of small improvements made across your job-finding skillset that places you miles above the next candidate. Improvement in one area will increase the chances of you making a greater impression at the interview. It is because your CV stands out that bit more above the others, because you are able to answer a question just that bit better, and because you know that bit more about the company, that you are able to present yourself as that bit stronger than the next best candidate. Taken together as a whole, these small improvements across your skillset make a significant difference.

People often underestimate the difference small improvements can make, but if you have one or two weak areas and the next candidate has none then you are more likely to be left behind. It might be painful to focus on your weak areas but that is where the greatest improvements are to be made. Your ultimate success depends on how well you do in all areas.

It is a matter of being just 3 per cent better than anyone else in a whole number of different ways. You don’t need to be massively better just better. That is what we help graduates to do here at Graduate Coach.

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