Blog written by Chris Morris, Group Manager at Interpret Geospatial Solutions
So you have taken my tips for creating a quality graduate CV and you now have an interview (of course!), what should you do next?
Here are my top tips for a successful interview:
1. Do your research
You did some research for your CV, well do some more! What kind of clients does the company have, what project examples are there? Demonstrating to your prospective employer that you have done some research will get you some serious brownie points. See what else you can find out about the people interviewing you, for smaller companies you should be able to find the people who are interviewing you. Check them out on LinkedIn. If it’s a larger company and you are going through the HR department, then ask who will be interviewing you.
2. Dress code
In New Zealand, we are pretty casual but this is an interview so make an effort to look smart - employers want to see that you are taking the interview seriously and that you look professional. Not every graduate has a suit, don’t feel as though you need to go out and buy one, but dress as smart as budget allows.
3. Two-way conversation
One of the mistakes I think a lot of graduates make is the assumption that an interview is a one-way conversation. You are being interviewed so it’s all about the employer getting to know the potential employee right? Wrong! An interview should be a two-way conversation, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. A good interviewer will recognise this and should talk about the company as much as they talk about you. This may be your first proper job, so you should ensure it’s the right one for you.
4. Prepare some questions
You will usually be asked if you have any questions, so make the effort to think about some questions that will be applicable. This can be quite hard because during an interview many of your standard questions will get answered. So think of questions a little outside the box. Perhaps ask what a typical day might look like for you, whether there is a graduate program, or what the company culture is like - ask the questions that your research didn’t cover off during the interview. Don’t go overboard but try to demonstrate your interest and investment in the organisation. Unless there is a specific discussion around salary, wait until you get a job offer to discuss that.
Nervousness at an interview can come from a couple of places. Firstly, you may be worried about what you will be asked and whether you can answer their questions. Secondly, nerves can come from confidence or lack of it. A good interviewer should explain the interview process, but if they don’t, then more often than not the interviewer will simply get you to run through your CV, so make sure you know it pretty well and can answer questions about it. Confidence is a little harder to manage and it comes down to your personality type. Always remember that you have been offered an interview and therefore the employer has seen something in you that they like. Try and enjoy it!
6. Team fit
Why are you being interviewed? Well at the very basic level it’s to check that you don’t have two heads. At Interpret, team fit is as important, if not more important than technical capability, which can be learnt. Your employer wants to know what you are like in real life rather than on paper, so do let a bit of your personality show.
7. Sell yourself
I remember sitting in an interview asking the candidate about what they did in a particular role. They had been doing some GIS work, nothing particularly complicated, but it was relevant experience. The candidate said that all they had done was make ‘maps and stuff’. This may have been the result of nerves or it may more likely have been because they were underselling what they had done, a tendency that lots of New Zealanders have. The interviewee may have only been making a map but that involves understanding from the client what it was the map needed to show, it demonstrated cartographic capability, it demonstrated communication skills and also a technical understanding of software. It may have only felt like making a map, but the skills required to do so are what I’m interested to know about. So, sell yourself, talk it up, and be proud of what you have achieved.
8. You didn’t get the job
Unfortunately, you didn’t get a job offer, what should you do now? Well firstly don’t take it too badly, you got an interview and at the end of the day someone else may have had more experience or be a better fit for the team. Take heart that if they got that job then they won’t be applying for the next one, and in any case you may fit better at a different organisation. However, do try to learn from the experience. A good interviewer will phone to let you know you didn’t get the role, so do ask for feedback. Find out how you could improve for your next interview.
9. You got the job!
Congratulations, now the hard work starts. But before it does, make sure you celebrate - you’ve done well.