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Beginner’s Guide to Interviews

Blog article by Rohan Goyal

The world is slowly and steadily getting back on its feet and for a lot of students, this means that the job market is finally opening up and companies are actively hiring.

The job market competition is fierce, now more than ever. On paper, resumes and cover letters may seem alike, but the way an individual comes across in person at interviews is the game changer for who ultimately gets a job offer.

As an international student in Australia, I have attended many interviews — and I have had my fair share of failures. However, there is nothing more satisfying than taking an opportunity which you had lost once. After all, our failures teach us more than our successes.

If you have progressed to the next stage of recruitment after application, congratulations! For every job advertised in the corporate sector in Australia, an average of a whopping 250+ people have also applied, which means you have surged past most people who considered themselves to be as suitable for the job, but what now?

While there may be no single template that works in all interviews, here are several pointers that every candidate should note, during and after an interview, to leave a long lasting impression on the recruiter.

1. Research the hiring company

Put on your research boots and dig into the firm you are interviewing for. Their websites are a good starting point, but what they may not give away on their websites is what you may find out in their online customer reviews if available. These will help you understand the good, the bad and the ugly. In these reviews, observe the pain points of the company’s patrons and what the company can do better.

The information you find will help you articulately respond to questions such as “How will you contribute meaningfully to our organisation?” This way, you’ll be able to show you’ve put in the hard yards and initiative to understand the customers first and foremost.

2. Research the interviewer

Another small but important step to take before an interview is to research your interview panel. It is always preferred to know who is interviewing you and their own career journeys within and outside of the company. Run a quick LinkedIn search to understand your interviewer’s role and the projects they have undertaken in the past. Use this information throughout the interview to show your curiosity about their personal contributions and motivations.

Occasionally, it can also be useful to check if the interviewer has any hobbies or personal interests such as art, blogging or music — these can serve as rapport-building conversation starters before the interview even officially begins!

3. Substantiate your claims

It goes without saying that you should be respectful of the time of the panelists and articulate your responses without beating around the bush. Do not overstate your capabilities or use overly complex words. Instead, use your actual work experiences to reinforce why you would excel in a role. Being able to explain your experiences in short is an art that would be very handy during interviews as employers like short, crisp responses.

You can use the STAR template to organise your examples coherently:

  • Situation: explain the relevant role and organisation for your example.

  • Task: outline the specific task you had to complete and perhaps any challenges you were facing.

  • Action: specify what you did to complete the task and overcome any difficulties. Emphasise your personal traits such as teamwork or problem-solving.

  • Result: detail how your actions create a positive impact on the organisation and link this to how you can do the same in this hiring company.

4. Ask meaningful questions

Perhaps most importantly, ask a unique, memorable question to show your curiosity by utilising previous research. This stage of the interview is usually the first thing the interviewer will remember about you — so make it count. You can angle your question towards how you can excel in your role, what challenges you will need to overcome, and what the interviewer personally thinks about their work.

Avoid generic questions or those that show you have no interest in championing the purpose of the organisation, such as “When can I get a promotion?” or “How many holidays do I get?” These questions will likely be dealt with in latter stages in the recruitment process if you do progress.

Some examples of interesting questions include:

  • “Based on your three years’ of experience in the company, what do you think will be the biggest challenge in this role? In my previous roles, I’ve experienced…”

  • “What do you personally enjoy the most about this company and your work?”

  • “I read that your company recently launched this new campaign in Sydney. What would someone in my role contribute to a similar campaign in future?”

5. Wear suitable attire

During the interview, it is important to choose the right attire. If you consider yourself to be a serious contender, you should dress as one too. The suitable attire will depend on the company: for instance, a startup may have a more casual dress code than a global bank, which would generally necessitate a neat suit or work dress. If you’re unsure, there’s no harm in contacting the company and asking.

6. Follow up

The hiring process is often complicated and expensive for employees as they sift through hundreds of applications. While the wait for the interview outcome can be nerve-wracking, don’t forget to allow at least five business days before you send a follow-up email. This usually involves thanking the interviewer by name and offering to provide any additional information you may require. Write politely and respectfully without coming across as impatient.

There may be instances where you may not get selected but that is okay because you can always ask for feedback which may help you do better the next time, so pat yourself for the effort and move on because rejections are just part and parcel of the game!

Are these tips useful to you? Don’t forget to follow the Australian Business Students’ Association on LinkedIn to get the latest news and updates. We post business related content such as blogs, news and hold events to provide students with more opportunities to network and grow.

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