As our 2017 recruitment season gets underway, here are some general tips for interviews from John Clegg, the founder of Summer of Tech:
If you’ve been through our recommended process to write a CV and nail your SoT profile, you should have a list of your key skills with examples. This will provide you with a great set of examples for you to explain your skills. Mentally prepare or practice with another student on how you can explain those skills in a relatable way.
Do your homework on the organisation. Use the internet to do research on what the company is doing. This will help to understand the various jargon that they may use to describe what they are doing.
Interviews are stressful. Everyone gets nervous. Take your time and make sure that you look after yourself and prepare in the best way for you. If you’re not sure how to answer a question: Pause, take a deep breath and then give it your best shot.
The 3 HOW’s
Find opportunities to talk about “how” you work and “how” you think about problems and “how” you learn. Use real examples from either previous work experience or school projects. For employers, relevant work experience trumps your school experience.
One technique I’ve used to help me to better in an interview is to ask “qualifying” questions for the questions that I’m asked. If an employer asks you a question, you ask a qualifying question where you can find out more context so that you can provide a better answer. eg. Let’s imagine I’m an employer and I ask a question “Explain to us how web pages work?” My response would be to ask something like “At what level do you want me to go down to? Do you mean in terms of Web applications, or HTML side, or network infrastructure or … ?” By using this approach you should get a better context on what’s important to the employer and it should help you to be able to focus your answer.
The best analogy for qualifying questions is that it’s like playing a game of “Go Fish”. The employer has a set of skills and other criteria that they think are in important in a hire. Every time you ask an employer a qualifying question, you get to find out more about their employment criteria. This is a great technique to practice before your interviews.
It’s about the conversation
Employers are effectively trying to find out if they can have a conversation with you. The basic work scenario is that they want to know if they can talk to you about a problem and have a constructive conversation. Your ability to listen, ask questions, learn and apply yourself to your project is important.
Questions to ask in the interview
Think about asking questions about will help you make a decision. What questions do you have that you help you choose one employer over another?
* “What can you tell me about the project/work I will work on?”
* “Who are the team I will work with?”
* “Are there opportunities for employment after the internship?”
* “How do I know if I’ve been successful as an intern with your organisation?”
There are wider questions, you could ask that will help you understand what it’s like working for a particular organisation.
* The work environment: What is like to work at X?
* The tools: What tools will you learn on the job?
* The work process: Which work process you use? Agile – Scrum, Kanban, something else?
* Training: What training will be provided?
* Mentors: Who will be my mentor?
Keep an eye on your email and your phone. Employers are now free to contact you about roles. Some of the employers run their own interview process, so you may get invites to various things. This is a good sign! Please make yourself available if you can!
Be on time. It’s not a great look to be late. Make an effort to be early, and use the time to prepare yourself. The difference between candidates is really small, so don’t let lateness play a part in any employers’ decision making.
Employers are reasonable. They know that you have study and lecture commitments. If you have some urgent school, work or family commitment that clashes with your interview, contact the employer and organise an alternative time.