How to Nail your First Graduate Job Interview


Successfully navigating you first graduate job interview can be a daunting prospect but the good news is if you’ve already got your foot in the door you’re half way there. All you have to do now is impress your interviewer(s) and prove you’re as good as you say you are on paper.

With careful planning and some extra tips to help you along the way you’ll land your dream job in no time!

Practice Makes Perfect

Like with any task, repeating it until you get better is the simplest and easiest way to master it. An interview is no different. Ask a family member or close friend to conduct a mock interview with you. Prepare answers to common interview questions such as ‘Why do you want this job?’ and ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ By preparing for these kinds of questions, you can put yourself at ease. You can’t predict all the questions that may pop up but any answers you prepare may be useful for other questions.

Time Keeping

Arriving early to an interview is the first step in making a good first impression. This may seem obvious but if you arrive late your interviewer(s) may have already made up their mind about your application, this is especially true when there are many candidates applying for the same position.

Before your interview find out where the location is and work out how to get there. If possible, make a practice trip if you’re still unsure as this will make things much easier on the day of the interview.

Once you know you can arrive in a timely manner, you can ensure you arrive to your interview nice and early. Arriving around 10-15 minutes before hand is neither too early nor too late as this will demonstrate enthusiasm and punctuality. It will give also you a moment to mentally prepare yourself or go over any notes you may have.

Body Language Counts

Some say that interviews are decided within the first couple of minutes so it’s important to make your first impression count. Good eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile is a great way to show your confidence and positivity. A weak handshake and lack of eye contact on the other hand will come across as a lack of confidence or shyness.

Once you’ve been invited to sit down be aware of your posture, crossed arms or legs for instance may come across as being defensive or negative. Having your arms and legs uncrossed on the other hand suggests a more relaxed state. Finally remember to make good eye contact (but don’t stare!) and smile!

Knowledge is Power

Learn everything you can about the organisation in question, find out what they do, the market they occupy and who their competitors are. Social media feeds are also a great way to check their recent company activity. With this knowledge you can demonstrate your interest in the company and you’ll feel much more prepared as a result. It’s common for interviewer(s) to ask questions about the company itself and is likely to catch some people out. Learn as much as you can and form a coherent opinion about the business. The information you learn may also provide you with questions to ask which will demonstrate your interest in the job.


For competency based interview you should consider using the S.T.A.R. system, this stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Questions such as “Describe a time when you had a tight deadline to meet” or “Describe a time you worked in a team to achieve a common goal’ can easily be answered using the S.T.A.R. system. It gives your answers structure and will likely result in you being able to give more detailed answers as opposed to something off the top of your head.

Situation – Set the scene with an example from your own experience. Keep it concise and clear focusing only on the story at hand.

Task – Describe the objective you needed to accomplish.

Action – Demonstrate the skills you used to overcome the task at hand.

Results – After taking appropriate action, describe how your actions resulted in achieving your objective.


If you need some extra help for you graduate interview read our companion piece ‘How to dress for a Graduate Interview’.

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