Careers Advice

How to ace your placement interview

Stepanka Jurenova, ScotGrad Graduate Engagement Manager for the Highlands and Islands, offers her top tips to help you shine bright during your placement interview.

Published: 14/09/2016

You followed ScotGrad’s CV advice and your foot is now firmly in the door, but now it’s time for your next test – the dreaded interview.

It can be a daunting process, especially for your first graduate role, but as with anything, preparation is key. Here are some top tips to help your impress your potential employer.

Do your research

Spend some time getting to know the company, what they do, how they started and who the big players are. Interviews will often start with “so what do you know about our company?” and it’s your opportunity to show you know your stuff.

Interviews vary; they can be one-on-one, with a group, or you could be presenting to a panel. Make sure you understand the situation you are walking into and prepare appropriately. 

Plan your journey

Arriving late and missing your interview slot is a big no-no. Avoid making a bad first impression by ensuring that you plan your journey, from checking public transport timetables to familiarising yourself with a route map. Always leave enough time to factor in traffic or walking between destinations. Ideally you want to arrive approximately 10 minutes early.

Be presentable

It has been proven that people form their first impressions in the first seven seconds of meeting you. Dress to reflect your employer and the image you want to portray of yourself. If you have an interview with a more corporate organisation make sure you wear a business attire. However, if your placement is somewhere slightly more laidback and creative you can wear something more casual – but it is always better to be too smart than too casual.

Trust your abilities

You have been invited to the interview for a reason. Have faith in your qualifications and experience, and speak confidently about who you are and what you have achieved. With every answer, make sure to include an example of how you have demonstrated the qualities they are looking for. For example, you will have experience of researching a topic when you produced your dissertation, you demonstrated teamwork abilities when completing that course project, and you are confident with public speaking as you’ve presented numerous PowerPoints to your seminar class.

Ask questions

The interviewer is likely to ask if you have any questions. Make sure you do! You want to appear switched-on, eager and interested in the company and the role, but you also want to know if this job is the right fit for you. You can pre-plan your questions before the interview or ask your interviewer to expand on something they previously mentioned. Forbes has a good selection to keep up your sleeve.

A good interview will feel like a flowing conversation, with both parties comfortable to chip in. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but keep in mind that you want to come across as professional, mature and the right person for the job.

For more hints and tips and guidance on what your employer is looking for, visit our Careers Advice page.

Good luck!