Interview Skills for Students
Sep 21, 2009 Career Development 2628 Views
So, what is this world coming to - aren’t students allowed to be students anymore? They now need interview skills! Well, sorry to spoil the perpetual party, but the answer is yes - particularly if they are serious about getting employed in this economic climate.
Up until last year, a graduate with a decent qualification from a decent university could be confident of getting a good job, in their preferred line of work without too much angst. The war for talent was such that all the talk was about how the power had shifted to applicants and away from employers. Nice situation to be in (as an applicant).
For the meantime though, that trend has been reversed. It’s almost certainly temporary, but its today’s reality. So what does a student do to improve his/her chances of landing the job? Well, the outstanding students will do all or most of the following:
• Networking among their friends’ parents and their own parents’ friends. This might not be purely focused on getting a job, but also on getting some experience whether as a volunteer or paid.
• Showing innovation in what they’re doing in their spare time. I’m far more likely to look positively at a student who has set up his/her own car wash or window cleaning business or who has volunteered on a project and has a set of skills they can identify and refer to.
• Cold calling – probably the most difficult of all. The really dedicated (or desperate) will research a list of companies, list them in priority order, conduct some basic research on these organisations and then cold call their graduate recruitment teams.
• Put together a short video about themselves and their aspirations and include this (or more likely a link to the video) in an email to identified companies
• Professional students will also tidy up their facebook and other social networking profiles to avoid any embarrassment or exclusion before getting an interview!
• Build a CV that show great awareness of the early skills that have been developed and build their own “elevator pitch” on the back of this
Those students prepared to put in this kind of effort will almost certainly be rewarded for their determination. There is though, a real chance of throwing away an opportunity if this dedicated student of ours is new to interviewing and/or has no interview skills.
There are no more than a few things that will make the difference in the interview. First of these is preparation. The student that goes into the interview armed with 2 or 3 detailed questions about the prospective employer is already ahead of the pack. Detailed questions are evidence of detailed preparation.
The second lies in knowing one’s skills and being able to link those to any major achievements and experience.
The third thing is the ability to listen in an interview. Interviewing is not only about answering questions but about understanding where the interviewer is coming from and what they’re probing for.
Students need to see themselves as a product (or combination of product and service) and they need to have their marketing messages prepared and ready to roll of the tongue in answer to questions like “why should we recruit you”?
Those students that are able to gain some kind of control in the interview by asserting themselves (not too strongly) are also going to stand out.
So all of this is easy stuff right? Perhaps to about 0.001% of the population. For the rest of you, try our interview coaching for students at http://www.mytalentplace.co.uk/career-advice/interview-skills You’ll be put through your paces by an experienced graduate recruiter and given all the feedback you need to be successful on the big day.