Top tips for nailing that job interview

As you near the end of your degree at a UK university, your attention will be turning to the next exciting step: getting a job!

Interviews are the inevitable hurdle standing between you and that prized position. Most candidates find them pretty nerve-racking, but they serve a purpose: they allow you to demonstrate that you have the technical and soft skills for the role, and that the company is the right place for you to realise your career aspirations.

So how do you ensure that you present your best self at interview? Your UK university careers service will often provide specific job interview resources to help you prepare. Meanwhile, read on for our top tips, and those of international graduates from UK universities!

1. Preparation is key

If you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation or other task, don’t leave it till the last minute. But make sure you invest time into preparing interview questions too.

Using the job description and your application and CV as your guide, think of what questions you might be asked – nowadays, some prospective employers even send them in advance. Work out your answers using the STAR method (situation, task, action, result).

You should already have researched the company and role when you applied, but take time for a quick refresher, and look up the people who will be interviewing you.

2. Practise makes perfect

No matter how well-qualified and well-prepared you are, you risk getting flustered and letting yourself down on the day if you haven’t practised enough.

Mock interviews will help ensure the real thing goes smoothly. Your university careers service may be able to set them up, or try enlisting your friends and flatmates to ask you standard interview questions.

You can even turn to AI-powered interview platforms: there are several offering automated question and feedback services, including some tailored to candidates who are not native English speakers.

Indian graduate Harikrishnan, who studied Accountancy/ Finance at UWE Bristol and now works as a financial analyst associate for Morgan Stanley, says: “I always tell students interested in investment banking to practise behavioural questions. I attended interviews with Goldmans, JP Morgan, Lloyds and Morgan Stanley, and they all used that approach, where basically they are looking at your character and whether you would fit the organisation.”

3. Relax and be yourself!

Just as with exams, there is a danger of overdoing the preparation. So build in relaxation time before the interview: perhaps a walk, lunch with friends (soft drinks only!) or a mindfulness session.

Remember: as an international student, you’ve already demonstrated several soft skills that employers want. Be proud of yourself!

4. Don’t forget the basics

As soon as you are invited to interview, let the company know if you need any adjustments – e.g. on disability grounds.

On the day, dress smartly, bring any presentation or portfolio you need, and check to see what identity documentation is required. Then turn up at the right place with time to spare – or, if it’s an online interview, make sure your tech is up to scratch.

5. Be clear and focused

You’re likely to face a panel of interviewers, who should introduce themselves and explain the format of the session.

After each question is asked, take a moment to think it through. Remember to answer using the STAR method, using concrete examples.

Don’t hesitate to ask the interviewers to repeat or clarify the question. You may be able to write it down or refer to your notes to boost your answers.

Yejun from China, who studied at the University of Bristol and is now an accountant, says: “I performed well in the interview when I was given the open questions. I gave some constructive suggestions for the scenarios, which was appreciated by the employer. for the questions which I was not sure, I was very honest to tell the interviewers and tried to show my personal understanding although it is limited.”

6. Showcase your character

No matter how many job-specific skills you have, you need to demonstrate that you are a good fit for their company personality-wise too. So smile, be polite and enthusiastic – and show that you’re someone they’d like to have on their team.

7. Remember interviews are a two-way street

It’s important to get the right position for you and your longer term career aspirations.

So think in advance of any questions you’d like to ask about the company, training and career development opportunities, and chances of progression. If you’re lucky enough to end up with multiple job offers, these could be the deciding factors.

8. Get feedback

At the end of your interview, make sure you know when you’ll hear about the job. Otherwise, you’re in for an anxious wait.

If you get offered the job, congratulations! But don’t be too downhearted if you’re rejected: it’s all part of the job application process. Ask for feedback and learn from it, and consider getting help from your university careers service.

Deepak, who studied at Nottingham University and now works there as a market insight officer, says: “Handling rejections positively and utilising feedback constructively are essential, enabling you to enhance your skills and refine future applications. Additionally, make full use of university resources, including engaging with your university careers and employability team for assistance with your job applications.”

And Shanna from Malaysia, a UK graduate who is now an audit associate for KPMG, says: “Expect failure in the first few interviews but don′t get over-depressed about them, the best always comes at last.”

With your UK qualification under your belt, you’re already on your way towards the career of your dreams.

For more advice for international students seeking graduate jobs in the UK or globally, register today with Gradlink. We offer a free jobs board, a database of global employers, and careers advice.

By Q Content Published: May 14,2024

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