Mastering the Art of Acing a Job Interview: Essential Tips for University Students

Job interviews bring potential stress and anxiety, no matter how confident you are in everyday life. It is easy to get lost in what could go wrong, especially if you are a university student aiming to interview for a summer internship that will be important for your future career or you are straight out of university and going for your first post-graduate job.

You might have had to go through an interview process for university or for your part-time job, but if you are still worried about it, here are some tips to help you with acing a job interview you have coming up.

Girl doing internships on her summer break

What are the different types of job interviews?

Finding out which type of job interview you will be having will help you to prepare efficiently. You may also go through different phases of interviews, where you have a telephone interview in round one, followed by a face-to-face for a final interview. Some of the interview types include:

Face-to-face interview

The traditional interview type and still the most common form of job interview. This is where you attend the offices of the employer to be questioned in person by an individual or a panel.

These can last anywhere between half an hour to two hours, with on-site tests and exercises sometimes included in the process to determine strength and competency of each interviewee.

Girl in a job interview

Telephone interview

This is often an early interview round to filter out some candidates before a face-to-face interview. A telephone interview should last no longer than half hour and is more informal a chat than an in-person interview.

Girl on a phone interview

Video interview

This has become increasingly popular and combines the informal aspect of a telephone with a more formal in-person interview format. These will follow the same format as a traditional question-and-answer interview, but there are also some types of video interviews that are pre-recorded and require the applicant to answer questions through a recorded video that should be sent at the end of the time slot.

Girl smiling at her laptop

Tips for acing a job interview

Interviewing is all about making a connection with the person you are speaking with, putting the best version of you across to the employer, and also thinking about it from the other angle and working out whether they are a good fit for you and somewhere you want to work.

These will also help you if you are interviewing for a graduate program or Master’s degree as the next step in your academic career.

Here are some interview tips.

Think carefully about the dress code

What you wear will very much depend on the format of the interview and the type of company and industry it is with.

As a growing number of companies in myriad industries have a more casual approach to what employees wear day-to-day, this can make it tricky for the job interview.

Always err on the side of caution, as it is better to be too smart than too casual. There is also nothing wrong in asking ahead of time.

If you are at home, dress as if you were having an in-person interview, as this helps you to get into a more professional mindset.

Girl professionally dressed in an online meeting

Punctuality and positivity

These are two very important characteristics that the interviewer is looking for in candidates. If you are late for a job interview it will not paint you in a good picture and tell the company that you will take the job seriously and turn up on time for work.

Always aim to be early to access the building you are being interviewed in, and by giving yourself enough time you are taking away potential stress.

In the interview, remain upbeat and positive in the way you interact and converse, as this helps to build a picture of who you are as a person alongside the factual answer you are providing.

Two people shaking hands

Research frequently asked questions

Start by looking for frequently asked questions for the role and industry you are interviewing for. When you have this type of information it gives you a foundation to work with and helps you to practice your responses

Girl with blue shirt holding a book and revising on a laptop

Consider your body language

Relaxed, confident body language helps in any job interview. If you are meeting someone face-to-face, make sure you shake hands with them, sit up straight in your seat, and maintain good eye contact throughout.

Be an active listener and be enthusiastic about the role and the company.

A man and woman sitting on couches during an interview

Answer with clarity

Take your time when answering questions. It is vital that you answer concisely and with clarity. Take a pause to gather your thoughts and to have a few seconds of thinking time, and if you are unsure about any question, do not be afraid to ask for it to be repeated or explained so that you can give the best answer you can.

A man interviewing a women

Become the interviewer

Take some pressure off and remember that you do not have to take this job if you do not feel it is the right fit for you.

This helps you to go into the job interview to ask questions about the company and the specific role, as well as answer questions about your experience, skills, and character.

Asking questions in an interview is often a technique that goes down well.

A woman interviewing a woman

Follow up post-interview

Don’t be afraid to follow up in the days after an interview to gain some feedback on your performance (whether you are successful or not).

It always helps to gain feedback and to see how you are perceived, as this will help you in the next interview you go to.

Girl with shirt looking at a laptop and revising

Whether you are looking to change your post-graduate expectations by interviewing for a summer internship or you are taking those next career steps after finishing university, knowing how to go into looking for a job and acing a job interview is important.

Once you take the pressure off of it, do your research, and realise you can have the mindset that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, it can help to make acing a job interview much easier.

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