How to prepare for an interview: essential tips for students

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StudyPerth
Nov 10, 2019

By Justin Nguyen, StudyPerth Marketing Intern

It’s a common spot to be in – you’ve submitted your application and you have now been invited for an interview. You’re excited and nervous at the same time. For many people, the interview process can be intimidating, but with the right approach it can be a rewarding experience as you develop career skills, expand your context and meet new people.

This blog will give you 10 tips that I think are most important that can help you ace your next job interview.

Preparation is key

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

If you want to do well in your next job interview, be willing to put in the work. There are so many things that can happen during the interview, so the only way to deal with this uncertainty is to be well prepared.

Block out a decent amount of time to prepare for the interview. If you know someone that currently or previously worked at the company, or the person has connections with you on LinkedIn, reach out and ask them to give you some advice.

Bring your interview set

You want to show the employer that you are well prepared and pay attention to details. Consider bringing to the interview a pen and a notebook, copies of your résumé and evidence of your related work.

Do your research

You should have already conducted some company research when preparing your application. Now you can take that a step further.

Do thorough research on everything related to the role you have applied for – the job description, the company, the interviewer(s) - as you can use this information to ask questions later on. Visit the company website and LinkedIn page, and pay attention to its history and values. Call or email the company asking for the interviewer’s details and look them up on LinkedIn. Be careful not to go too far into this though – keep your research strictly professional!

You can also look at websites such as Glassdoor to read reviews from employees who currently or previously worked at the company to get an idea of what working in the company would be like.

Prepare for behavioural questions

Behavioural questions are the type of question that asks how you dealt with a particular situation based on your past experience. Common examples include working under a strict deadline, resolving conflicts, and collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds.

The best way to approach these questions is to tell a short story using the STAR approach. The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Tasks, Actions and Results - what was the scenario, what needed to get done, what did you do to solve the problem, and what tangible results came from your actions.

Practice mock interviews

Check with your education provider if they offer mock interviews. Usually, there will be a career advisor who will play as the interviewer. This is a great way to practice, get feedback and improve on your interview skills. This service can get busy so it's recommended that you book your appointment a few weeks in advance.

Dress for success

Dress smart for your interview as you want to create a good first impression with the employer. Dressing well will not only make you look more professional, but also boost your confidence. While it is important to dress smart, also ensure you’re dressed for the job.

Be punctual

The last thing you want to do is to be late on the interview day. To avoid that, plan everything the night before: plan your commute, prepare your outfit, and pack all your important documents so everything is ready to go the next day.

I recommend arriving at your interview 5-10 minutes prior to the meeting. It gives you some buffer time in case of unexpected situations such as traffic and getting lost. By being early, you also show the employer your professionalism and have opportunities to meet others in the office while waiting. Be careful though, anything earlier than 10 minutes could be seen as a disruption to the interviewers day and you could risk running into another applicant for the job.

Ask questions

A job interview is supposed to be a conversation between two parties on how they can add value to each other, so while the interviewers want to know more about you, don’t be shy to ask them questions based on your research. The questions can revolve around the interviewer (‘what do you like most about working in this industry?’), the company (‘what’s the company’s plan for the next few years?’), and the job you’re applying for (without repeating something you should know from the job description).

Follow up

Mastering the art of following up an interview can help you go a long way in your career. Consider the fact that businesses are busy – they are likely to read hundreds of résumés and interview dozens of people, so it is possible they could forget who they talked to.

To make yourself stand out from the crowd, remind the recruiter of you by following up with a thank you email. There's no guarantee you will get the job if they find someone who is more qualified than you, but it doesn't hurt to take a few minutes to write a note that might make their day better and keep you front of mind.

In terms of content, thank to them for taking the time to meet you. You could also mention the actions or key takeaways from the meeting. The goal is to make it personal which helps the recruiter recall the conversation.

Be engaging and authentic

Talk to the people you meet at the company. Be a good listener, respond with enthusiasm, and don't forget to smile.

What are your best interview tricks and tips? Share them with us by tagging us on social media (@studyperth) or using #LiveLearnLaunch

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In collaboration with governments, educational institutions and stakeholders, StudyPerth provides a leadership role in building the profile of international education in WA and overseas.

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