Are job interviews decided in the first minute?

The ‘Making an impact’ DVD from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) attempts to answer this question.

Interviews are nerve racking affairs but the main message from the DVD is that if you come prepared there is nothing to fear.

Interviewers are interested to know what you can bring to the organisation you are applying for and so will analyse how you sell yourself from what you say. It is important you have researched the company you want to work for as they will check for career motivation, enthusiasm and an understanding of their business.

Key Tips:

1: The interview is a natural extension of the CV you have sent to an organisation and you will be expected to give more detail of it at the interview.

2: Employers test you on competency based questions at interviews. A competency based question is when you give specific examples of past behaviours that show how you behaved in certain situations in an interview setting. Do not be general in the answers you give to a competency based question. 

3: Maintain eye contact and answer the questions as quickly as possible. Silence is ok but not prolonged silence.

4: Before the actual interview check the competencies that the organisation looks for on their website and practice examples of them using the STAR approach*.

5: When answering questions never say ‘we’. Interviewers are interested in how you handled each scenario as you will be the one they will hire.

6: Research the company and get the dress code correct by understanding the ethos of the organisation.

7: Telephone interviews are a low cost initial screening of candidates in some companies to take through to a face to face interview and you must treat them seriously and come across as confident, articulate and give clear detail. 

8: Build rapport with the interviewer at all times and make sure you leave a good first and lasting impression.

*  P.s. The STAR approach is:

S – Situation, background set the scene
T – Task or Target, specifics of what’s required, when, where, who
A – Action, what you did, skills used, behaviours, characteristics
R – Result – Outcome, what happened?

If an interviewer starts probing you, this is a clue you are not giving enough information (such as names, role, project, feedback, who, what, when, outcome).

Thanks to Cheryl Copeland for providing this article.

Note:  University of Cumbria students can access the “Making an Impact” video via the Jobs&Careers tab on Blackboard.