How to ace a job interview

Students working in the Library

Students, it’s that time of the year again, when lots of you will be looking for employment. But we know that landing your first graduate job can be challenging.

Here are some top tips that will help you ace a job interview like a pro.

Be proactiveThe best advice I can give you is to be proactive and make the most of your student experience. At Teesside, you can join various clubs and societies which can help you to expand your networks and gain new skills.

Plus, there are lots of opportunities to grow your experience and skills through part-time jobs, internships and volunteering.

Student volunteers pictured holding signs they have made at the Unicorn Centre in Middlesbrough.
Teesside University student volunteers at the Unicorn Centre in Middlesbrough.

Research the organisation — Study the company’s website and familiarise yourself with the different sections, such as their mission, vision, and values. Research what they do and who their clients are. It will help you make a good impression.

The goal is simple, you want to work for the organisation, so show enthusiasm.

Once you’ve done your initial research, look beyond their website to try to find out more about them, their competitors, and the key issues in their industry. Use this information during your interview to impress the panel.

You only get once chance to make a first impression.  Aim to come over as friendly, enthusiastic, positive, and professional.

Person researching on a laptop

Listen carefully – Listen to the questions carefully and don’t rush. Take a moment to craft your answer.If you lose track during your answer, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.

Don’t stress — People working at organisations have emotions too; they know interviews are daunting and remember, the panel actually want to see you do well. They will be more understanding than you think.

Be ready for questions — Read the job description and person specification carefully and identify the key skills and experience that is suitable for a particular role. The questions will be based on these, so think about how you would demonstrate the skills and experience to show you meet the criteria.

Person being interviewed by two people across a table.

Reveal but don’t reveal too much – “Are you a self-taught baker?” “Did you manage to write a book as a student?” Don’t be shy to talk about your achievements. You will be asked about your “strengths” and what makes you “the right fit” for the role.

Think about the key points you want to make during the interview. Know your strengths and achievements and be prepared to provide examples and concreate evidence of where you have previously demonstrated those skills. Make sure you keep your answers clear and concise – there is only so much you can tell in a 45–60-minute interview.

Prepare for task-based questions — These questions will be in the form of problem solving, teamwork and leadership and where you have demonstrated these qualities previously. Derive examples from your work placements, internships, education, or any volunteering work that you did.Think of questions like, “How would you handle being asked to perform a task you have never done before?” and then structure your answer using ‘STARR’: Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection.

Have your own questions– Be enthusiastic and engage with the interviewers. Ask them questions like, “What do they love about the organisation” and “How is the work culture?”

Blue question mark on a pale pink background.

Read your application carefully – Go back and remind yourself about what you wrote. Be ready to talk about your experience.

Make smart travel plans – Make sure you arrive for your interview in plenty of time. If your interview is in your city, then you could try out the journey beforehand so that you know where you’re going on the day. If for any reason you can’t travel, make sure you email the HR department – give them a valid reason and request for the interview to be conducted online.

Don’t be afraid to fail – We all fail at some point in our lives.Don’t be harsh on yourself – if you fail, then get up and keep going. If you don’t make it in one interview or land your ‘dream job’ straight away that’s fine. There’s so much for you in the world.

And last, don’t be shy to seek advice – You can see a Careers Adviser to discuss your interview preparation or arrange a mock interview. You can find useful resources on our careers website.

Good luck with your interviews! Let us know how you get on in the comments below…


Author: Aditya 

Aditya is an award-winning writer and LGBTQ+ rights activist from India. He studied his master’s in journalism from the University of East Anglia and moved to Teesside to join the Communications and Development team. He’s written two poetry collections and been published in a number of outlets – from The Telegraph and PinkNews to the BBC and The Times of India. Connect with him on Instagram at @aprilislush.