Interviews are a key component of how we assess candidates for our degree programmes. They provide us a chance to get to know the individual and bring an application to life. At the foremost we are looking for aptitude, personality and passion.
For candidates not used to interviewing they can be a nerve-wracking process but they are an important skillset to master for anyone embarking on a professional career. In my opinion, nerves can be positive as they can help keep you engaged and alert to the questions but also indicate your ambition for progressing past the interview.
Below, I have shared five key points that you should consider when approaching interviews. They are more easily said than done, but if you can keep them in mind they will go a long way to ensuring you project the best side of yourself.
I regularly evaluate candidates for our Early Career Programmes at London Business School and these views have been formulated from the many candidates I have interviewed. I hope having read this, you will find it useful and it can have a positive impact on your interview technique.
1. Be natural
Showcase your personality. An interviewer is assessing not only your calibre for the programme but also how you will fit into the community. Engage in conversation before or after the formal assessment and show your passion and interest in what you are being interviewed for. It will put you at ease and also the answers you provide will come across as genuine. It is easy to judge when someone is not being their true self.
2. Be an open book
Shutting yourself off and only providing short answers will leave the interviewer unsatisfied at the lack of information being provided. You want to allow the interview to flow naturally from question to question. If you cannot show learnings or achievements from your actions then the interview can turn into a back and forth that will not leave a good impression.
Be willing to share and provide insights into your experiences and ensure to link your answers back to question in hand. If you have a particular method for formulating your answers take a breath before you start and think through where you want to start and end.
3. Stand your ground
Don’t be afraid to stick to your convictions. Changing your viewpoint to satisfy an interviewer only showcases a lack of belief. A well-thought-out position, defended well, is more impressive than simply agreeing with a different view. However show that you can adapt to advice/feedback and be flexible in your views.
A good example is when thinking about your career goals. It is important to have aspirations and goals but if you cannot show the rationale behind them this becomes a weak rather than a strong attribute. Connect the dots between your past achievements and how these can be a barometer for your potential success. Research alternative possibilities and solutions to a challenge and consider other viewpoints to highlight your adaptability and agility to recognise that there may be alternate ways to achieve your goal.
4. Know your application and audience
Too many times candidates have not thought about the points they have made in essays/statements. Any information you provide can be explored in an interview. It may be a minor achievement on your CV but if you haven’t thought about why and how you did something and what you achieved/learned, you may get caught out.
Equally, know and research the organisation (the school) that you are interviewing with. Show to them that you understand their vision, values and attributes. Without this knowledge you will never truly be able to demonstrate your suitability.
5. Answer the question asked
A cardinal mistake is providing an answer for a different question. You may have thought about the key points you want to make beforehand but they don’t need to be laid down at the first chance. There will be always time across the interview to emphasis the key areas you want to put across.
I like to think of interviews like a chess game albeit one where the opposition wins. If you start off with all the moves you have very early on, it becomes easy for your opponent to break you down later in the game. By focusing on each individual move you will be able to achieve the end result.
Finally, try and relax in an interview. Get a feel for the environment you are in, know your audience and ask questions at the end! Your final minutes of an interview will have a long-lasting impression and you want them to be positive.
I wish you best of luck in any future interviews.