Interviews

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For most people interviews are pretty nerve wracking yet interviewers are actually quite nice people! Knowing you are really well prepared can help to lessen nerves. To interview effectively you need to know what you have to offer, what the employer is like and what the job will actually involve - and then you need to be able to tell them about that giving relevant details and examples in a conversational manner.

Things to do

(Please note: these videos work best in Chrome or Firefox)

to watch the video with subtitles visit the subtitled video index or view the Making an Impact DVD in the Resource Centre. 

  • have trial runs of case studies commonly used by Blue Chip organisations found on our handout
  • get individual advice and feedback from a practice interview or a practice telephone interview with a Careers Adviser
  • Watch this video on interview tips
Strength based interviews
Typical Interview Questions for Strength Based Interviews
  • What sort of everyday things do you enjoy doing? 
  • What makes for a really good day for you?
  • What do you think are the most energising things you do? 
  • Tell me about a time when you think that "the real me" is most coming through.
  • Do you have a vision for the future? What is it about? 
  • Are you a starter or a finisher?
  • What do you love to do in your spare time? 
  • How would a close friend describe you? 
  • What qualities would you bring to a team?
  • What unique qualities can you bring to this company/role?
  • Tell me about something you are particularly proud of. 

Typical Weakness Questions

  • What are the activities that you really dislike doing? Why is that?
  • Are there things that you never seem to get done or things that you always try to avoid? What are they?
  • What are the activities that drain you when you have to do them? Has it always been this way? 

Online Resources

 

 

Video interviews

The video interview process

  1. Students are sent an invite from the recruiting company via a host e.g Sonru, LaunchPad etc. 
  2. They have the choice to complete the video interview via their desktop or by downloading the mobile device App.
  3. Students will have a certain timeframe by which to complete and send the interview. Once they click to start the interview there is no turning back! (They cannot rerecord).
  4. Students will progress through a ‘technical test’ to assess the sound/vision quality of their device.
  5. Students will be given an opportunity to practice using the software – practice questions are assigned at random so they will never be given the same sequence of questions. Students can practice as many times as they wish and employers are not informed of how many practice sessions they go through. Students can watch their practice video back to enable them to develop their performance.
  6. Once students enter the real interview they will be given a series of questions. They will be allocated approx. 30 seconds to read the question and structure an answer before the recording begins. They then have approx. 2 mins to provide their answer. If they finish their answer before the 2 minutes is up they can click to go to the next question. 

What is video interviewing?

The use of video interviewing is becoming increasingly common amongst graduate recruiters. You will receive a set of questions that you must record responses to in video format. This different to a live connection with the interviewer, you will be presented with pre-recorded questions.

The specifics may change, but in the main, employers set questions or tasks, then use specialist video companies like webrecruit, Sonru, LaunchPad Recruits and InterviewStream to conduct the virtual interview. All the candidates get asked the same questions, and the recruiters can replay or review anything that catches their eye.

Employers say that candidates benefit by starting the session at their own convenience without having to travel or take time off from another job, if they have one. The video companies offer opportunities to undertake practice interviews, but once the real interview begins, you can’t rewind or review your answers. It’s just like a face-to-face interview but with none of the feedback you’d expect from a person-to-person experience.

Video interviews are sometimes being used where telephone interviews might once have been, allowing bosses to assess a candidate’s manner and knowledge before inviting them to a face-to-face interview. 

Quick tips to improve your video interviews

  • Choose a bright room with soft background light
  • Move around with the camera to find a simple background; make sure it is nice and tidy
  • Do NOT use your monitor as a light source
  • Have the camera at eye level and look directly at the camera. Resist temptation to look at yourself, you want to be connecting with the employer.
  • Move lights around so your image is clear and bright in the camera
  • If you wear glasses, turn down monitor brightness to minimize glare
  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Look at your outline in the camera view – get close enough so you mainly see your head and shoulders

By creating a good light environment and following these simple tips, you do not need to spend a fortune on a good webcam.

How to prepare

You should treat this interview like any other making sure that you prepare well beforehand. Think about questions that you are likely to be asked and prepare some answers. Research the company; find out what their mission statement or objectives are, look at their history, what issues are they currently facing, who are their competitors etc. Book yourself in for a mock interview with the careers service.

 

Online Resources

Telephone interviews

Initial screening is increasingly done via a telephone interview, particularly for jobs where communication over the telephone is important. The fundamental rules of successful telephone interviews are no different from those for other interviews, but you have to remember that your ears and voice have to do more work to compensate for the absence of visual signals. On the plus side, you can have notes of points to include and questions to ask on a table in front of you, but don't keep shuffling the papers!

Advice from the graduate recruitment team Standard Life:

What are they? Telephone interviews are simply interviews conducted over the telephone. They can however take different formats, such as competency based interviews where you will be asked to give verbal responses or competency based interviews where you will be asked to input numbers via your telephone keypad.

Why do organisations use them?

  • They are more cost effective as candidates do not have to visit the company premises which reduces the costs involved with compensating candidates for travel
  • They can help an organisation screen out a large number of unsuitable candidates in a more efficient manner
  • They can reduce the length of the recruitment process

Advantages

  • You can have notes in front of you to answer questions
  • They are more convenient as you don't have to take time off work or study to travel to the employers premises

Disadvantages

  • You only have words and voice tone to sell yourself to a potential employer
  • It may feel strange to be interviewed via the telephone

How to prepare:

Plan ahead

  • Make sure you have in front of you any documentation that will help you to answer the questions I.e. Your CV, examples of work you have completed successfully, positive written feedback you have received
  • Prepare for a telephone interview in the same way you would for a normal interview i.e. research the organisation and the position thoroughly
  • Prepare some general questions you would like to ask.

Practice beforehand

  • Arrange with a friend to practice some answers on the phone and obtain feedback from them on how you sounded
  • Or record some answers on a tape recorder, listen to them yourself or with someone else that can offer constructive comments
  • Take note of how your voice sounds on the phone; is it enthusiastic and interesting or monotone and dull? Try standing up to make yourself sound more energetic or smiling as you talk to make yourself sound friendly and cheery.

Get into the right frame of mind Before the interview it may help to get you into the right frame of mind by putting on business dress. You are more likely to sound business like and professional if that is how you are feeling. Ensure that you are in a quiet place where there are no distractions such as the TV, radio or other people.

During the interview:

Listen

Listen to what the interviewer is saying and ensure you understand the question you are answering. If you do not, clarify the question with the interviewer.

Make an impression with your voice

  • Be natural as you talk to the interviewer, variances in your voice will be more obvious over the telephone, so try to talk as you normally would
  • Answer questions courteously. A note of irritation or frustration in your voice is much more noticeable on the phone and can't be offset by positive body language. Try to sound relaxed and confident.

Avoid:

  • "uhms", "ahs" and lots of false starts to sentences
  • lengthy pauses where nothing seems to be happening - if you need time to think, say so
  • speaking so softly that the listener has to strain to hear you
  • speaking so quickly that the listener does not grasp what you are saying, particularly if your accent is not familiar to the interviewer
  • speaking in a monotone which sounds boring to the listener
  • indulging in long monologues without breaks to check whether the interviewer wants to move on

Take notes If appropriate, jot down some notes or questions that you would like to ask the interviewer at the end.

More tips

  • Have your diary by you in case a follow up interview is arranged on the phone
  • Don't drink, eat or smoke during a telephone interview. You wouldn't do these things in a 'normal' interview situation. Therefore, make sure you have eaten sufficiently beforehand and have visited the loo so that you are comfortable
  • Remember to smile during your interview and be yourself.

Do:

  • signal understanding or agreement with occasional interjections of "yes" or "mm", as nods and facial expressions are invisible
  • a smile on your face cannot be seen, but a smile in your voice can be heard. So it helps to smile at the other end of the phone
  • from time to time add phrases to check if what you are saying is adequate, relevant and not too long as you cannot see the interviewer's nods of encouragement or other controlling body language

Finally

Do not take it personally if the interviewer does not give much feedback on your answers. Many telephone interviews are highly structured and are designed to be fair to candidates by asking them all exactly the same questions, so that it may not feel like a normal telephone conversation. Accept that the interviewer has a job to do and may be making notes or marking a scoring chart as you speak.

Practice your interview technique

Try the Abintegro interview simulation tool (login using your DS id).  

This tool allows you to select a bank of questions and then answer them under time pressure.  You can even use your webcam to record your responses and then play it back. Abintegro also includes advice from employers about how to answer interview questions.

After you have practiced with Abintegro to get you thinking about your interview technique, then you may be able to arrange a practice interview with a Careers Adviser to get personalised feedback on your performance.

Useful resources
  • List of employability skills including common interview questions related to those skills from Manchester University Careers Service
  • Careerplayer - Interview tips
  • For case study interviews, PrepLounge is a free resource where you can solve a case on your own or join with others to solve it as a team.   Sign-up required.