A Recruiter’s Insider Secrets to Graduate Interview Success

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These Insider Secrets to Graduate Interview Success are not for your typical graduate job hunter.

But first let me congratulate you on obtaining your degree. Now with that out of the way let’s get down to real business.

The contents of this post are a departure from your typical graduate interview preparation tips.

If you are looking for a list of typical graduate interview questions to revise or a list of clever hacks that guarantee that you will get a job, I must disappoint you.

What you will get in this post is a serving of insider recruiter secrets that your typical university careers advisor is unlikely to give you.

I want to help you separate from the herd of thousands of graduates hunting for a job. You need the inside scoop on how progressive organisations hire remarkable employees.

Want to learn how you can be remarkable in a graduate interview from your Graduate Recruitment faerie godmother?

Who am I to call myself your graduate recruitment faerie godmother?

Once upon a time, I dodged becoming a lawyer (sorry family), skipped through a two year bank manager graduate trainee programme (not my cup of tea) before finding my happy HR home as a specialist graduate recruiter leading the annual hiring process that converted nearly 3,000 applications for 100 graduate jobs in top retail bank in the UK. Since then, I have always had a soft spot for graduate recruitment.

Read on to discover the real (often undisclosed) hiring criteria and interview process geared towards finding that rock star candidate and future remarkable employee.

Game on.

The graduate job hunting season is officially open. The competition to secure a coveted graduate job is fierce.

Times have changed. Being an exam-passing machine will not cut the mustard. The fact is, today’s progressive and creativity-biased companies are looking for different qualities from candidates during the hiring process.

Their recruiters are on a mission. They don't want to hire cookie-cutter applicants who lack personality, creativity and grit. Instead, recruiters are searching for exceptions to the rule – curious, fresh-thinking individuals willing and able to make a real contribution to help the organisation fulfill its purpose.

3 Secrets to Interview Success A Remarkable Graduate Needs to Know

1. Reviewing and shortlisting candidate applications: Personally, I am looking for CVs / Resumes / Online Profiles / Personal web pages which remind me of my favourite sofa – an overstuffed, colourful, lived-in testament to interesting adventures and learning experiences beyond the boundaries of your chosen course of study and final degree.

Please let us be clear. I don’t mean the puffed up, over-fluffed, waffle-packed, windbag dossiers which clog up graduate recruiters’ and hiring managers’ inboxes.

I don’t mean the suspiciously paid-for-perfect profiles which blur the lines between storytelling and downright lies. They are damning evidence of the evil cookie-cutter CV design trend.

The interview is the chance for the recruiter to learn about YOU and what makes you tick. They are not interested in hearing you regurgitate the stock answers to interview questions.

Examples of a deep-dive into a subject area or a passion project combined with real world experience are highly sought after.  These are glorious hints of an open mind and valuable skills that could be transferred into the right role within the organisation. They increase the likelihood of you being invited for an interview to tell the recruiter more.

It’s our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~ J.K. Rowling

2. The Interview:  Recruiters are interested in your values (what do you stand for?) as much as the value you can bring to the organisation. This is what creative, innovative, human-centric companies are looking for in their graduate hires.

Start with this. Know your UVC – Unique Value Contribution. It does not mean how fabulous you are or how prestigious your university is (to be honest I don’t care to know).

UVC is all about your willingness to contribute and your ability to make a difference and an impact.

Rock star candidates have thought deeply about their UVC and are able to explain it with clarity and conviction at interview.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision” ~ Neil Gaiman

3. Hit the ‘what’s in it for me’ button. People are looking for 3 wishes to be fulfilled. Remember organisations are led by people.

Before the interview research the organisation, the market and their competitors. Savvy graduates get fresh ideas from other industries or disciplines. Don’t skimp on this!

During your interview share your ideas of tangible ways how you can make a difference in these three areas. Be specific, this is a NO-FLUFF zone!

First of all, solve a painful problem suffered by the business / team. Suggest ways to overcome a challenge or obstacle. ROCK STAR candidates have found a problem (opportunity) that the organisation is not aware of, can articulate it. Furthermore they can confidently describe how they can solve it or what role they would like to take in solving it!

Secondly, describe how you can help the organisation or team fulfill its mission or purpose.

Finally, demonstrate or explain how the company’s cause or mission resonate with their own ambitions, dreams and values.

Always keep these ‘3 magic beans’ at the forefront of your mind while you are applying for a job or preparing for your graduate interview. They will help you stand out from the herd of typical applicants and cookie-cutter, hack-loving candidates.

Here’s to your remarkable success with your graduate job interviews. Remember exceptional organisations want to hire the exceptions to the rule. Is that you?

Recruiters! Share these interviewing insider secrets with graduates you know who are willing and able to put in the extra work to be remarkable.

This post was originally posted in full in the The HR Rabbit Hole blog . It has been condensed and tweaked by the author. Now it is freshly served to the Recruiting Blogs community.

Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon is an advocate of Creative HR and an activist for putting the ‘human’ before the ‘resources’. She is particularly fond of ruffling Establishment feathers to help revolutionise HR as a valuable business discipline and to support HR pros transform from blah to cooking with gas. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

Views: 341

Comment by Claudia Sender on July 13, 2017 at 8:11am

Hey Nicole,

Great Article!

Reviewing and shortlisting candidate applications manually takes a long time and makes a complex job instead a better ATS System can be helpful to you that makes the work more easier and saves time. Well this is quite a competitor world where every thing can't be handled manually, requires an ATS System that helps a lot as it can handle many tasks and helps an organization to grow.

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on July 14, 2017 at 12:24pm

Hey Claudia,

Thank you! Yes manual shortlisting applications is time consuming and a good ATS System definitely helps. But a good ATS system is only as good as  'humans' leading the hiring process.


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