How to hack your graduate job interview

Graduate job interviews are terrifying - they're extremely competitive and we've all heard assessment centre horror-stories. 

The good news is that you can hack your way to a great interview in three simple steps. This advice applies just as much to internship interviews too.

Here's 4 ways to ace your job interview questions:

1. Structure your answers

Most graduate interview questions will focus on your "competencies", like leadership, teamwork, using your initiative. 

These often take the form of questions like "tell me about me a time when you were a leader" or "give me an example of when you dealt with conflict in a team".

They are deliberately open and can be hard to answer. The way to hack them is to structure your answers carefully using the Context Action Result framework. This gives you a simple way to deliver a concise, convincing answer.

Lots of students waffle and don't give clear answers - this can set you apart. 

2. Gather your evidence

Preparing examples is key for going into the interview with confidence. Sports, drama, debating societies, being elected to student councils, part-time jobs, blogs you've written can all provide great material for your answers. 

Think like a lawyer - first gather your evidence (writing down a list of bullet points can help) and then deploy your argument. Practice on friends and family, to see if you can convince them.

3. Demonstrate commercial awareness

This where lots of people fall down - you need to be able to show that you understand the company, the sector it works in, its competitors and overall trends. 

Start with the ‘about us’ section on the company’s website, then branch out and search for any news coverage about the organistion or its industry. This will allow you to drop in casual mentions of the situation the company is in, showing you have initiative and interest in the role.

Interview advice

4. End on a positive note

As the interview comes to a close, this is your chance to really stand out from the crowd. Have a couple of well thought out questions that reference the research you did about the company. For example:

“I’ve read that you’re all about creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. How do you encourage that day to day in the office?"

“I read that [trend in their industry]. How does that impact your company’s strategy?”

“I saw that [company x] recently won an award for [x]. How did that come about?”

Finally, end by thanking the interviewer and saying that you look forward to them being in touch. Remember that they’re employing a person, not just a working machine. Good luck for your interviews!

For more help with your career, check out our Advice on Applying for Jobs forum.