Interview Questions and Assessment Centre Tips for Graduates

So you've created a great CV and updated your online iProfile. A company has invited you for an interview or to one of their assessment centres for graduates. What now?

How can you prepare for the daunting interview questions and selection process? How can you distinguish yourself from other graduates seeking a similar position?

First off, don't panic. Remember that in singling out your CV or iProfile, the company is showing interest in you. Chances are there is something in your experience that made you stand out from other graduates and contractors.

Now you need to present yourself and your skills during the interview in the best possible light.

What are these?

Do Your Homework - Studying for Interview Questions

Some graduates make the mistake of thinking that once they've been called to an interview or assessment centre, the job is theirs. On the contrary, the outcome of an interview is often determined by how well a candidate has prepared

  • Study Your CV or iProfile. Regardless of whether you used a CV template to create your CV or you have an iProfile CV, you've attracted the attention of a recruiter or hirer. Review your CV or iProfile carefully, making sure you'll be comfortable explaining everything in it.
  • Practise, Practise, Practise. Smart graduates prepare for an interview with friends or family and rehearse their responses to potential interview questions. Practising helps graduates gain confidence and come across more naturally during the interview.
  • Play Detective. Graduates preparing for interview questions or assessment centre visit should learn everything they can about the company and the job in advance. Use the Internet and read the newspaper to pick up on the latest industry news and trends. One of the best ways for graduates to make a strong impression at an interview is to demonstrate they know something that most others don't.

Getting Ready

Sometimes the simplest things can mean the difference between graduates coming across well or poorly in an interview:

  • Bring Extra CVs. Don't assume that just because a recruiter or potential employer has seen your CV it means they'll have a copy at the interview. Be prepared with several extra copies.
  • Don't Be Late... Ever! Graduates who show up late for an interview or at an assessment centre are sending the worst kind of message about their reliability and interest. Know in advance where the assessment centre or interview is and arrive on time or a few minutes early.
  • Look Sharp. Personal appearance counts for graduates attending an interview or assessment centre. Graduates should appear neat, clean and well-groomed. If unsure about an employer's dress policy, it's best to err on the side of overdressing rather than underdressing.

At the Interview

You know your CV and iProfile inside and out. You've researched the company. And you've arrived at the interview or assessment centre on time and ready to go. Well-prepared graduates can seal a successful interview by also keeping the following in mind:

  • Let Your Body Do the Talking. It's not unusual for graduates to be nervous at an interview or assessment centre. Relax. Use non-verbal cues to express confidence and put the interviewer at ease. Use a strong handshake, smile, and make eye contact when answering interview questions
  • Don't Just Sit There! Graduates should keep in mind that the interview or assessment centre is one of their best opportunities to learn about the employer. Candidates should "interview the interviewer" to determine whether the company and position is a good fit for them. Ask questions (politely) and listen carefully to the interviewer. It's your career so make sure you use the interview to figure out whether the company or role is right for you.

A Word About Assessment Centres

Assessment centres are company-run events used to evaluate graduates in whom the company has shown interest. They could take place over one or more days and are typically held after a first interview.

Graduates attending assessment centres can expect to participate in several activities including an initial or follow-up interview, presentations, group activities, exercises, and aptitude or psychometric tests. Since some elements of an assessment centre involve working in groups, it's essential that graduates stay positive; the idea is to show yourself in the best light and not undercut or criticise other graduates.

In other respects, the suggestions above apply equally to graduates attending an assessment centre as to those attending an interview.

Remember that while a compelling CV or iProfile is an ideal way to get your foot in the door, there's a lot you can do to improve your chances of landing that dream job. Whether it's an initial job interview or a follow-up assessment centre, graduates who keep these proven strategies and techniques in mind have a better chance to seal the deal.