Life After University: The Dreaded Interview

So much is said about how to succeed in Interviews, and in reality, it’s not quite as fine-a-science as people make out, I believe.

But I do also have literally zero expertise in that area, or objective data to back me up, so take my claim there lightly! ūüėČ

There have been a number of previous blogs written on interview techniques and questions you might get asked, and all it takes is a simple google search to bring up even more information on what the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ interview questions you can get asked.

But in reality, every interview can be so different from the last, and there are no set questions or criteria employers will always be looking for. It’s just not that black and white.

For my money, your best shot is just ensuring you prepare for the genre of question you might be asked, in a way that works specifically for you. There will inevitably be questions about yourself, your previous experience, and your aspirations, so you should have a little bit of groundwork done for answering these in a way that works specifically for the job you are applying for.

You can also be fairly confident that there will be some competency-based questions, specific to the area you are working within. So do your research before you go on. Know your chosen area of employment, and wider facts about the industry, and have a few key methods or points in your head to discuss when you ask these points.

You might get asked the odd question about why that job is right for you, why that company in particular, and what you can bring to the role, and this is just a case of doing your research, reading your job description and visiting the company’s website or market reports, so you’re confident in what you are talking about in relation to them and your individual capabilities before you even go in.

After this, any number of things could happen. They may want a practical demonstration to display certain skills you will need for the job at hand, and that’s fine, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. You wouldn’t apply if you didn’t enjoy it or feel competent in that area right?

They may also want a group interview or discussion, and this also just takes a bit of common sense. Don’t rudely interrupt people, but don’t sit there silently either. If you’re a bit quiet or a bit boisterous, that may well be okay. Just make sure you speak strictly to say things that are worthwhile and don’t blow too much hot air otherwise.

And then there may be the odd curveball, as well. For the interview I had for my job in September I got asked a lot of the questions I thought I would, I had to deliver a PE lesson to display my practical capabilities, and then at the end something came up that I wasn’t expecting.

I was handed a large deck of cards, where each card was not numbered, but had a single positive attribute on it, such as ‘Understanding’, ‘Loyal’, or ‘Organised’. I was then told to pick the 12 cards, from the 70 odd I was given, that I felt most represented me.

I hadn’t prepared for this¬†or expected it all – and I had multiple different thoughts in my mind. Should I try and pick the ones that will only be relevant for this job? Are there certain other things this Headteacher, in particular, seems to be looking for? Did he mention loyalty being key? What about determination?

In the end, after a minute or so of considering my options, I realised that the best road I could actually take was just to do it honestly. To describe me. And if I had what he was looking for, then great! He is the expert in this if he is choosing to use it in his interviews and there is no point me trying to bluff him out of his own game. So I did exactly as I said, and just picked the 12 ones I honestly felt best described me. And clearly it didn’t go too badly¬†because I got the job!!

You may be wondering why I have just told you that, and what relevance I have, but what I am trying to say is that these things are entirely subjective and unpredictable. Each different employer will be looking for something different, and there is no set criteria or structure you can bank on for all of the interviews you may have.

So sure, do your research and give yourself the best chance possible of succeeding. But also, don’t panic. If you’ve taken the time to apply for the job, and they’ve taken the time to interview you, chances are you have a fair few of the right attributes and experiences anyway. So be yourself. Show off your strengths. And don’t worry about your weaknesses!