After applying for, what can feel like, hundreds of graduate jobs, you should hopefully find yourself with a number of interview opportunities. What remains, is to impress the interviewer enough to secure the role. A graduate interview is about more than just your skills – it’s about who you are as a person and how you come across. This will determine whether you are a good match for the role and the company.
There is of course a huge array of questions that can be asked, and many questions will likely be tailored to the industry and job. However, there are a set of stock questions that are commonly asked during graduate job interviews. Here is our list of the 10 most common questions, and how they should be answered.
- Tell me about yourself
For employers, this is one of the most common interview questions to ask candidates - think of this as a refresher or overview of your key skills and experience, but be careful not to simply read from your CV. It can be helpful to pre-prepare a brief statement that indicates what in your recent past has led you to be sitting in front of them in your interview, but remember not to ramble on – the interviewer has already gone through your CV.
- What are your hobbies and interests?
Employers ask this question, so they know you’re a well-rounded individual. No one wants to hire a workaholic that has nothing else going on in their lives except work, nor does an employer want to hire someone who is going to be coming in hungover most days. When answering this question, however, choose hobbies and interests that will promote your skills, such as team sports or activities that could be deemed as challenging.
- Why do you want to work for us?
This is one of the graduate interview questions that requires some thought. The interviewer will want to know what your motivations are behind applying for the role. Try to avoid saying things like ‘because I live close by', ‘I want a graduate job' or ‘the salary appealed to me'. Check out the organisations values and goals and see how yours align.
- What are your salary expectations?
This is very common but can be difficult for graduates making their first leap into the graduate job market to pinpoint. Salary is always an awkward topic to discuss, but you can use it to your advantage by showing the employer your worth and confidence. If asked, you should be ready to pick a figure that is towards the top end of what you are hoping for but to state that you are flexible or that you are focussed on finding the right role and don’t have a set salary in mind.
- What is your biggest achievement whilst at University?
This question requires careful consideration, and it does not have to relate to your time in examination results – it can be a work-related achievement (even if it's not in the same industry) or it can be part of your extracurricular activities. Choose an achievement that you are genuinely proud of, so your enthusiasm shows.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
While with interview questions it's best to be specific, with this question it's best to be a little vague. What the employer is looking for with this question is commitment, they want to have an idea of your long-term plans and how this role and organisation fit into it. Ambition is also another thing they are looking for; they want to know if you have the desire and drive to progress.
- What do you like or dislike about your course?
The best way to answer this question is to go through what relevant aspects of the course you enjoyed. When it comes to the parts you didn’t enjoy, spin it in a positive way and say something that is relevant to the job. t is not advisable to state that the thing you disliked the most about your course was getting up early for 9 am lectures!
- Give an example of your lateral thinking.
Lateral thinking is the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem in a fresh way and come up with a new solution. Companies prize employees with lateral thinking skills because without them, they can’t innovate and create new products. Think about times when you’ve been faced with real-life problems and have somehow managed to overcome them.
- Why should we hire you?
This is where you really need to sell yourself to the hiring manager – tell them what you think you can bring to the team and be sure to mention the skills they require
- Do you have questions for us?
Never say no. Even if the interviewer has covered off all the points you wanted to query, ask them to go into more detail about one of them. Otherwise, you’ll appear uninterested. So, avoid going in without having any questions prepared and listen carefully when the interview is speaking about the role.
We have an array of graduate roles available on our website, so please take a look and get applying, on www.thegraduateproject.co.uk.
By Anirudh Nair