Part 3: Interviews Tips for Graduates and Trainees

This is the third part of our Blog: Job Hunting Tips for Trainees and Graduates. 


Research, research, research!

Good preparation is the key to a good interview.  Research the company you have applied to work for. Visit their website and their social media sites plus any industry publications they appear in online.


Also research commonly asked interview questions online, then prepare and practise your answers aloud in a mirror.  Speak professionally and avoid overuse of “crutch” words such as like, basically and actually.  One of our interviewees used the word like over 20 times in one very long sentence!  Crutch words are commonly used with our peers but can make you sound immature in an interview situation.


A major component of your interview preparation should be to research the employer’s company.  The first question asked is usually, “What do you know about us?”  What is their core business, what products/ services do they provide? Who are the company executives?  How many offices do they have and is their annual turnover published? What are the company’s values?


Research will also assist you with another common question, “Why do you want to work for us?”.

The answer to this is not why they should hire you, eg “Because I’m a people person so I think I’d be good at this job”.  Your answer needs to state why you want to work for that company over a competitor.  “I understand from your website that you are extremely focussed on customer satisfaction.  I want to work for you because I believe I share your values and passion for excellent customer service” or “My understanding is that you are a boutique company on the rise. I think I would have an opportunity to be part of your growth with opportunities for learning and advancement that I might not get with a larger firm.”


A key question to prepare for is “What are your weaknesses?”. 

Everyone hates this question but it shows the interviewer that you are able to self-assess and improve.  It also conveys a bit about your personality, which employers use to decide if you are a good cultural fit for their workplace.  It’s important to supply an answer that is intelligent and genuine.  “I have a weakness for chocolate” is not an acceptable answer.  “I’m not a naturally well-organised person.  Organising my time efficiently is something I’ve had to learn.  I manage this by preparing a To Do list each morning and setting task reminders in Outlook”, is a better answer. It shows you know your weakness but are doing something to address it.


“Why did you apply for this job?” and “Why should we hire you?” are two questions that are always asked in an interview so be prepared.  Also prepare for personal questions such as what you like to do in your spare time and for a description of your personality/ how others would describe you.


Some companies, including Momentum Search and Selection, use video interviews to shortlist candidates for face to face interviews.  Complete the video interview within the timeframe required.  Ensure you have access to good WiFi and if you experience difficulties with the software, contact the employer or agency.  Choose an appropriate location with good lighting.  The light source should be in front of you, not behind as this will throw your face in shadow.  Bear in mind this is still an interview.  Make eye contact with the camera the same as you would a person.  Dress as you would for a face to face interview.  Conducting a video interview in your trackies stretched out on your bed is completely unprofessional.  Practise your answers, answer the questions being asked and try not to waffle.  Do not use crutch words for example, “So like, um basically I worked at…”


Always follow up by emailing the interviewer thanking them for their time and tell them you look forward to hearing from them.  If you do not get the job, contact them and politely ask them how you could improve/ what you could have done differently so you can address issues for the next interview.  Listen to their feedback and accept it graciously.


Finally, if you find you are not successful in securing interviews or are not being offered roles, change tactics.  There is no point in continuing with the same CV, the same interview answers and tactics and suffering rejection.  Ask for advice as to what needs improving.


Best wishes in your job seeking endeavours.