In the next section of the "How to Secure a Graduate Job" Series, we will be discussing how to prepare for interviews
So you have maximised your resources and have started receiving calls from recruiters. Maybe you are successfully converting these calls into interviews, maybe you are not. At this point you need to think about how you are presenting yourself beyond written communication. That first call with the recruiter may not feel like an interview because of its informal nature, but do not let this fool you. Recruiters are professionals and they pick up on a lot of nuances during this conversation.
You want to be prepared to answer any question on your resume and have a comprehensive summary of all your experiences. These calls will typically open with something vague like ‘tell me about your experiences and what you are looking for in a role’. You want to be able to speak confidently for no more than 5 minutes here and have covered all the highest points of your resume with little prompting.
At this point you also want to make sure you ask the right questions and use the answers to your advantage. Recruiters will drop hints about the role and what they look for and assess if you are able to quickly respond with the correct key words and indicate adequate interest in the job. You do not want to seem too keen and nor do you want to seem disinterested. This is as much about you learning about the company as it is them about you. The information you pass on to the recruiter at this first stage will dictate the summary they write up for you and pass on to the hiring managers. If you have a good rapport and come across as competent you have already made a great first impression with the company having spoken to no one in it.
After you have passed this point and secured your first interview, you will need to leverage the relationship you have established with your recruiter. If they are on your side throughout this process you will have greater success because there will be someone there to answer the questions a typical hiring manager may not be able to. You getting is their goal as well, they get a bonus and you get a job, win-win! Hiring managers do not operate this way as they get paid the same annual salary no matter how many people they hire. They have to be unbiased and treat all candidates fairly. Think of them as guides and your recruiter as a cheerleader.
Depending on the role you are applying for you will need to prepare for the interview accordingly. If it is tech, get an account on Leetcode and complete coding challenges. If it is in finance, study brain teasers and look up past interview questions. If it is consulting, complete mock case studies and logic questions. You get the picture. Each role will have its set of standard practices and there are about 100,000 websites that will tell you what you need to know.
Make sure you feel adequately prepared. If you do not, then forget about this during the interview. You have the choice to let your anxiety cloud your better judgement or to focus on the task in front of you and show the interviewer what you know. I have been on the other side of the table and when a candidate can confidently answer questions but admit where they have no knowledge; they come across much better than those who fumble their way anxiously to every correct answer.
At the end of the day, most people do not succeed in their first round of interviews. Or in their second. Or in their third. But with every new company and every set of interviews, you improve and sharpen your skills. Practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, interviewing is a skill and the system is imperfect in that way but there is nothing that can be done about this. We have to have a way of assessing people’s skills and being able to sell yourself to anyone is just one of the skills we expect competent employees to have.
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