The chances are that you may already have a good idea of what type of role you are looking for and the type of company. At this early stage in your career, having never worked in the industry, it can be a bewildering array of options: software houses, product companies, consultancies and start-ups; companies of various sizes offering slightly different roles i.e. software engineer, developer, web developer, technical evangelist, data scientist, etc.
Although there may not be a “magic bullet” in terms of landing your first graduate job at one of these companies, there may still be some very pragmatic things you can do in advance to improve your chances at interview, especially if you take some time to identify companies that you would consider to be highly desirable places to work. This may be based on advice from peers who already have jobs in the industry, industrial placements, graduate career fairs and online research/reviews.
Being fully prepared at interview not only has positive effects on confidence but can throw-up interesting questions to ask, ensure depth and breadth of answers and ensure that you are ‘in the mode’ on the day.
Preparation not only covers the technical content - revising salient technical aspects in terms of breadth and problem-solving - but may also cover soft-skills such as teamwork and personal qualities. As such, read around the subject as much as possible and bring your experiences to life by preparing a few mini case studies. Certainly at this level, experiences from a non-commercial context are fair game.
Get focused about the specific opportunityEmployers do not necessarily care if you are interviewing at other companies - that is a given - but they definitely want to hear that you are focused on their specific type of company, since that focus sends the following message: “Having considered all the options, I am actively choosing a career path in this particular field”. Having said that, do not lie if this is not true for you since it will ring hollow; if your career direction is as yet uncertain, be open and honest about that fact.
Gain insight into the employer's business
Employers will also be concerned with how you fit into their specific context: demonstrate that you have given thought to how you see yourself fitting in. Even if you don’t have any relevant personal experiences to draw on, ask around and find someone who can give you some insight into what makes that particular business model tick.
What is the employer actually looking for?
Spend some time in consideration of potential qualities that the employer will be looking for. What criteria do you think you will be assessed against? If your CV has any gaps or omissions, then be prepared to defend yourself. Identify any weaknesses and try to have evidence to bolster these areas. Thought given at this stage will stand you in good stead for some of the trickier questions that will be coming your way at interview. It may also be an idea to prepare some ‘stock’ answers to common questions, but they must ring true. Don’t be afraid to add some of your own personality to the answers.
Evidence a ''growth mind-set''
Use every opportunity to evidence the fact that you are open to learning, especially if the interview question covers material that is less familiar. To be able to work through something from scratch will prove that you are able to pick-up new concepts quickly and then use them in subsequent answers. Also, awareness of how you can do something better will serve to underline potential and prove that growth and improvement are core to your mind-set.
Building a rapport with the interviewers can be central to this approach and if you can find out who will be interviewing you, all the better. Look them up on LinkedIn: try and find something in common that can avoid small-talk and add spice to the interview.
Based on rapport, work with the interviewer when you are not sure as to the aim of a question or whenever you are unsure. Very often, the interviewer will be very happy to collaborate with you through a nudge in the correct direction so think out loud, be open and pick up on any cues.
Enthusiasm for your subject
Interviewers are interested in genuine enthusiasm for a topic and so arrive well-armed with examples of how your enthusiasm finds expression in your given field. This could be through outreach activities with local groups, both online and offline, personal projects and activities that you have undertaken at university. This is not about showing off, but expression.
More to come
We hope this article has given you food for thought. We'll be posting useful articles regularly, covering a range of topics to aid and inspire you through your journey towards a rewarding career, and giving insight into the people and lifestyle here at Scott Logic. So keep an ear to the ground and in the meantime you can follow the link below to discover the opportunities we currently have available.