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The Graduates Guide to Interviews

See also: Interview Skills

When graduation day came last year after four years of dedicated work, bright eyed and bushy tailed I felt ready for the big wide world.

Jumping head first into the job hunt I felt that the work experience and internships I had managed to gain at university had prepared me for the world of work. And although eager, little did I know the adventures that would await me on my journey to employment.

The Friday Girl

Deciding that I would take any old job to support me through my first few months out of university, I applied for what seemed like every job going in the local paper.

Getting an interview at an estate agents, despite being oblivious to anything about the property market, I went along for what I thought would be a quick chat with the manager.

On arrival I was bewildered to find myself cast into the middle of a room in front of potential colleagues and other candidates where I had to sell them a property.

Not the easiest thing to do when your knowledge of housing is the university accommodation.

Dazed and confused, I mumbled my way through an awful pitch that rendered me clueless, whilst a far more confident young woman blagged her way through a sale with complete conviction.

It wasn’t that she knew the inner workings of the housing market, rather she simply knew how to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Needless to say I didn’t get the job, but it certainly taught me that I needed to boost my confidence if I was ever going to get anywhere in the world of work.

Taking some advice from these confidence boosting tips, I started practicing interviews with family and friends.

My confidence had never been an issue before but it seemed that unfamiliar surroundings and the added pressure were making me doubt my own credentials.

The Unexpected Journey

After applying for a Marketing Assistant position in London through Gumtree, I was overwhelmed to say the least when I managed to nab an interview.

Imagining my glamourous future career in the big smoke, I huddled together the last pennies of my student loan and splashed out on a train ticket.

Entering the Oxford Street offices I was buzzing with excitement and even more pleased when I managed to get myself through the Spanish inquisition, without so much as breaking a sweat or stumbling over my words.

But after what seemed like a successful interview I was then ushered on a train to Brighton where I had to prove my worth on the busy high street as part of a second test interview.

Confused, I soon learnt that the job I had applied for would not be the role I would be getting.

Dreams shattered and angry from being misled, I realised that it wasn’t just the company’s fault for the nightmare experience. It was my own.

In the whirlwind to achieve my dream job I hadn’t researched the company or asked about the role.

Consoling myself with an ice cream on Brighton beach, it was simply a rookie mistake.

I’d very naively thrown myself into the closest thing that sounded good without thinking about the consequences.

My pride was hurt and I felt like I had been conned, but knew deep down I needed to make the effort to look before jumping.

The Embarassing Episode

One thing I soon realised on my journey to employment was that application forms were truly the bane of my life.

On a desperate mission to just be earning once again I completed more forms than I can remember and who knows for what positions.

Give me a paper CV any day, because online applications are like a form of torture for the potentials.

Spending an entire day putting my life into little boxes, I was relieved to find I had managed to get an interview for the next day at a local company.

Putting on my best smile and my confident persona, the interview went well with smiles and laughter across my future employers faces. But then there came a question I was simply not expecting.

Asking me if I was disabled, I went on to explain that I was actually an able bodied person who was very fit and active.

Watching their faces drop as they explained I had ticked the disabled box on the application form, I felt my face redden and left the interview.

Feeling frustrated with myself I took some tips from this article about how to make the most of application forms and decided that in future I should perhaps take my time rather than rushing through them to get it over with.

The Arrogant Employer

When I received an interview for a local marketing company I felt like this was finally going to be my big break.

I was dressed to impressed and took the time to ask insightful questions.

But my future employer had been sat throughout the interview in a very relaxed and laid back position as if he was at a bar. And when I delved into the company history and ethos, his attitude was rude and snappy.

Deciding that this company wasn’t for me, I declined the job offer and realised that sometimes it’s not me, it’s them.

Unfortunately there are times when you truly can’t prepare for the unexpected and, although not the most embarrassing or scary experiences, I hope that sharing them will reassure my fellow peers that embracing all experiences will only increase your chances of finding something amazing.  

As this article explains January is the best time to search for a new job and I know many of my fellow graduates will be starting their job search in the new year, but despite the nightmare experiences that have passed I would do them all again simply because of the life lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

Don’t be put off by a bad interview, keep throwing yourself out there and you’ll be a better person and a perfect candidate in the end.

About the Author

Mary Saunders is a graduate Journalist who is looking to expand her writing portfolio.

She is currently working on a part-time basis for some local lifestyle magazines but hopes to be able to expand her writing genres to gain a role within a prestigious newspaper.