A couple of years ago we developed a programme called Build and Fly Your Own Rocket, designed to help local young people to get and keep a job. This blog was written by our trainee Lilly Smith running mock interview.
The world of work is a scary prospect; especially if you’re fifteen years old and you haven’t been into a real-life business environment before. To prepare their students for the looming prospect of work experience, more and more schools are organising mock interviews to prepare students for the real thing. Employers of local businesses are asked to give up a couple of hours of their time to interview six or seven students about their school life, hobbies, interests and any typical work experience interview questions. That’s exactly what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks, and whilst we have generally been impressed with the conduct of most interviewees, there have been patterns of mistakes that I think all students who are in a similar position can learn from.
1. Eye contact
It can be very hard to look somebody in the eye when answering a direct question – especially if you’re lacking in confidence. Good eye contract portrays a good level of trust however, and there’s nothing worse than somebody finding the carpet more interesting than you.
2. Body language
Your posture, what you do with your hands and the way you sit, all influence an interviewer’s impression of you. You can’t control your nerves, but if you’re sitting awkwardly and you’re wringing your hands or fiddling with something, it’ll become obvious that you’re nervous. Don’t let your nerves control the interview; try and relax beforehand and do some breathing exercises to calm yourself down if need be. The first five minutes are generally the most nerve wracking, but if you find yourself tensing up during the interview make a conscious effort to control it.
Smiling is also important as it shows the interviewer that you want to be there and that you’re motivated. Turning up glum and grumpy is no excuse (even if you’re nervous). You only get one shot to show who you are so it’s best to present yourself in the best way possible.
An interview is not a fashion contest. Many of the female students we interviewed seemed to be having a ‘who can wear the shortest skirt competition’ which doesn't look great from anybody’s point of view. Whether you’re applying for a role in H&M or not, you’re still going for an interview and so you should dress appropriately for it.
4. Asking questions
The purpose of the interview is to find out more about you and to assess whether you’re suitable for the organisation and the role. However, one question that is always asked at the end of the interview is ‘Do you have any questions?’ It’s surprising how many students didn’t take advantage of this opportunity and it’s even more surprising to find out how many didn't know or realise that not failing to answer actually impacts negatively on your interview. If you've got the opportunity, ask away! Not only does it show that you’re generally interested and you want to find out more, but asking a well-thought out and interesting question makes you stand out from the crowd.
5. Giving as much information as possible
An interview for a work experience placement is likely to be quite short, and so it’s important that you make the most of the little time that you have. When you’re asked a question, answer as fully as possible (but make sure the information you give is relevant!) Giving a one word answer or not expanding on things doesn't make you shine or stand out from anybody else.
Interviews are a scary prospect – nobody is going to deny that. There are things in life that you have to do that you won’t necessarily enjoy, and although interviews will push you out of your comfort zone, you need to make the most of the experience in order to benefit from it.
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