Show what you know: the key to interview success

The ‘why’ questions are an integral part of any interview process. John Edwards, Graduate Recruitment Manager at the BT Group, explains why they matter and how to answer them.

why_question_mark_190Yes, it’s competitive

Graduate recruitment selection processes are becoming more and more competitive as the leading universities globally deliver more and more highly qualified and talented students into the world of work. Do treat this as a competition, make yourself stand out from the crowd! A key differentiator for most employers will be how passionate you are about the career choice you have made and why you have chosen to apply for a role in their company. Other candidates will have similar levels of experience and knowledge in your chosen subject as yourself, but can they demonstrate as much commitment and passion as you?

Why this organisation?

Do your homework on the organisation. Make sure you can answer the following:

  • What is their customer base? Is it diverse or niche?
  • What challenges do they face in the market? How are they tackling those challenges?
  • How are they structured? Do they have different divisions? What do those divisions deliver?
  • Does a particular aspect in the company really appeal to you?

You need to get your facts straight. What do you know about share price (moving up or down?), revenue, turnover, employees, profit figures, recent announcements (good news or bad news). Be prepared to put your own personal spin on this – what does all this mean to you? Finally, you need to be absolutely convincing when asked, “What attracts you to this company?”. If you are going to spend 2-3 hours filling in an application form or you are going to travel to an interview or give up a day to attend an assessment centre, 30-60mins thinking about these things is time very well spent!

Why this role?

So, why have you chosen to apply for a certain role? Why have you made this career choice? It is likely that this will be your first real job outside of an internship. How have you reached the decision to be a software developer, an accountant, a consultant? Why do you want to work in marketing, HR, law? If you can’t answer these questions there will be other candidates who can! You need to make your reason compelling. Remember the person who will be interviewing you is likely to be passionate and committed to this area as they have a career in it already. If you come across as driven it is likely you will work hard to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed and make a difference. This will make you stand out from your competition.

And finally…

Be proud to talk about any research you have done. Do you follow any career specific press i.e. Personnel Today, People Management? What do you know about the CiPD. For marketing, do you follow certain marketing campaigns? Are there technology blogs that you follow? What have you done in your spare time to prepare yourself for your first step into this career choice? Work experience, job shadowing, conferences, events? Be creative and share what you have done on your application and in interviews.

Perhaps all that seems like hard work and it is! But view at as an investment, do it in a committed way and you will reap the rewards on applications, in interviews and at assessment centres.

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