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Graduate Interview Questions
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If you’re in your twenties and have recently graduated or are on the verge of graduating you’ll be starting to attend job interviews. Even if you’ve done casual work throughout your time at university you may still not have much interview experience and be concerned about how well you will do. As anyone knows, fear of the unknown can affect performance, so it’s worth taking the time to do your research and make sure that you’re fully prepared.

Part of your preparation should be to understand some of the typical interview questions that you may be asked and think through what answers you need to give. At first glance some of these questions seem very simple to answer, but the more open ended they are, the more possible answers there are. They provide an opportunity to sell yourself, but they also give you the opportunity to dig yourself into a hole and jump straight into it.

So here are some typical graduate interview questions with tips about what you might include in your answers. Remember you need to use your own examples so you can talk about different issues quite naturally.

1. Tell me about yourself. Make sure that you have a really good answer here because it’s your opportunity to demonstrate early in the interview why you’re the ideal candidate. You want to give a succinct answer in a couple of sentences but remember to give specific examples to back up what you’re saying. Don’t try and tell the interviewer about every success you’ve had in your life so far. They won’t be interested.

2. Why should I hire you? Don’t try and be modest here. If you don’t have the guts to believe that you’re the best candidate for the job, why should the interviewer. However, you should acknowledge that you think all the candidates are talented or they wouldn’t have been invited for interview, but you have extra qualities that make you the ideal candidate. You need to focus on examples that would be of interest to the company and back up what you’re saying. Examples could be around excellent customer service, achieving top results, motivating others...etc

3. How has your education prepared you for your career? In answering this question you need to emphasise the different behaviours you have learnt. Examples of things you could talk about include leadership skills if you’ve led a project, time management skills in getting all your assignments in as well as taking part in other university activities, team working skills ... Think about skills you have learnt which align with experience needed in your career.

4. How do you see your career developing? I’ve heard some people reply to this question with “In five years time, I’d like to be sitting where you are”. It may work for some people, but interviewers are actually looking for more. You want to say how you’re looking forward to learning as much as possible and growing into the role and contributing to the success of the company. You can then go on to say that you’re are keen to be promoted at the right time.

5. Are you a good team player? You'll obviously want to say yes. However, you need to give an example of being a good team player. It might be from a project, a sports team or a work team if you’ve been working. Emphasise the success of the team and you’re involvement, but don’t make it sound as if you alone were responsible for all the teams achievements. If you do, you won’t be seen as a good team player.

6. Have you ever experienced conflict with one of your lecturers/professors or fellow students? How was it resolved? It may be very tempting to say that you’ve never had any sort of disagreement and “you get on well with everyone”, but if you say that the interviewer is unlikely to believe you and will keep questioning you about it. What they are more interested in is how the situation was resolved and what you learnt from it.

Don’t make the mistake that I once heard a very experienced manager say when asked a similar question which was “well we’ve never spoken again since. That was the best for both of us” You will not be surprised to learn, she didn’t get the job.

7. If we asked one of your lecturers to describe you, what would they say about you? If you don’t already know, talk to someone who knows you quite well such as your dissertation tutor. Explain to them why you’re asking and either ask them for a letter or take notes of what they say. You can then use this information in the interview.

8. What is your greatest weakness? If you’re not very experienced at interviews, this is a question that you can easily answer badly. Don’t pretend that you don’t have any weaknesses. We all do. Don’t make the mistake of saying “I was really disorganised when I did my degree”. Believe me, they won’t be impressed. Whatever weakness you choose, you must always turn it into a strength. So if you do say you were disorganised, you say what you did to turn that round and how organised you are now. Never finish this answer with a negative.

I hope that you’ve found these examples of graduate interview questions useful. This is by no means a definitive list. Organisations all have their own way of conducting interviews, but these are some of the typical ones that you may be asked.

Researching interview questions and thinking through some of your answers are only one part of your interview preparation. There are other things to consider such as what you will wear, how you will control your nerves and your communication style. The key to your success is preparation, preparation, preparation. The very best of luck.

Street Talk

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