How to impress at your next job interview? Ask questions, research the job’s key competencies and make sure that you use all of your experience to highlight why you are suitable. A smile goes a long way too.
I just want to ensure you all give yourself the best opportunity to be successful in your interviews, so here are a few tips on what works for me and lots of other graduate recruiters.
First, make your application stand out by selling yourself. Don’t just list what work experience you have had but also what skills you developed from these roles. Also make sure you talk about anything you have done outside of academia – societies, sports, volunteering etc.
Prepare for your interview and do your research on the company. If you are interviewing with Tesco for example, go on the websites for Sainsbury, M&S, Waitrose and so on and look at how their values all differ. Make sure you Google them before the interview to find out the latest news on them. Follow them on Twitter. Lots of people ask me what ‘commercial acumen’ means – finding out about the industry and the companies within it, and their strength, is a great example of that.
Applicants ask about whether to ask questions at the end of their interview – for me not asking any is a mistake. I can tell if somebody is motivated by what questions they ask, by knowing and understanding our graduate programme and the industry. So what questions should you ask? Why not ask the recruiter about their career path? Or what do they like most about working at Enterprise? Other good questions include: ‘I noticed on your website you do a lot of work for charities, how do I get involved in this?’ (this shows you have done your research). Personally I like the question: ‘You did a degree in Criminology, how did you end up at Enterprise?’. This shows people have read my profile on LinkedIn and our website.
As well as the competencies we recruit against – so customer service, leadership, communication skills etc. – we want people who are enthusiastic and have done their research, and can demonstrate business acumen. Again, you could demonstrate business acumen simply by following or linking up with the recruiter (here is where you’ll find all the Enterprise Rent-A-Car recruiters from across the UK) or visiting the local branch before the interview. That shows you understand the company you are applying for, the industry it works in and the competitors in the market place.
As for sales acumen, a lot of people think sales is going door to door selling. To give you my own example, I used to live in a pub and I would be offering customers desserts and coffee. In other retail stores it could be convincing customers to buy that second pair of shoes. Or it could be at university in a project where you have to get others to go with your idea and think it’s the best one. Sales acumen could be negotiation or convincing others to come round to your way of thinking.