How to nail a job interview after graduating university

Carrie Liddell 2022

Carrie Liddell
Marketing Coordinator, Assurity Consulting
16th January 2024

So, you’ve landed a job interview, maybe it’s in the field you’ve studied for during your degree. Or maybe it’s in a new industry you’re hoping to branch into, using the skills gained from your time at university.

But how do you stand out during the interview, and showcase that you’re the best person for the job, without being too (understandably) nervous?

Nailing a job interview and kickstarting your career can seem like a tall task when you’ve just graduated. You may be competing with other applicants with established careers, or you may not have all the professional experience listed as desired on the application. However, it’s important to remember that once you’ve been selected for interview, your potential employer has recognised that you could be an asset to their company. They may be willing to provide you with training resources to help untap your potential and value to the organisation, so in your interview preparation, one thing you should focus on is where that value comes from within you.

It's therefore essential to know how to showcase your transferrable skills, ambition, and how these match the role you’ve worked so hard for prior to the interview.

You should be able to find the skills the role requires listed plainly on most vacancies or job descriptions, use them to think back to times where you have succeeded in your life. Think of several instances where you have demonstrated the skills and qualities your potential employer is looking for. Consider three to five examples of where you have excelled and can show you are capable of what the role demands.

For example, you could be asked about a time when you faced a challenge, so take some time to think about how you would answer the question, think about how you would explain the challenge, how you tackled it and how you solved it. If you can do this consistently, when an interviewer asks you a question, looking to learn more about your proficiency, you will be able to clearly evidence your abilities, and how you have used these to excel.

Being prepared also shows that you recognise your strengths, understand what the role requires of you, and allows you to come across concisely and confidently. Even if you are asked the dreaded “what’s your greatest weakness?” question during an interview, you may be able to evidence an example of a time where you recognised a shortcoming and started to work on it. This demonstrates to the interviewer that you have self-awareness and drive that can be developed when they ask these kinds of questions.

Many of your examples can come from your degree, because you will have carried out a wealth of tasks, which may include:

  • Research;
  • Interpreting data;
  • Essay writing;
  • Presentations;
  • Problem solving;
  • Leading projects;
  • Practical creative projects;
  • Independent work;
  • Group work; and
  • Completing your goals to a deadline.

Your experiences and successes from your degree may therefore demonstrate:

  • A drive to learn;
  • An ability to understand and interpret new concepts and/or data;
  • Written and verbal communication;
  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills; and
  • Time management and punctuality.

There may also be roles you’ve had in the past that can still come in handy to you, such as working in customer service, or being a student ambassador. You may be able to match up the skills gained from those experiences to the activities involved in the role, like supporting customers or sales. Never underestimate how valuable or relevant the experience from things like your degree or summer job may be.

You should also consider how you walk into the interview room, do it with confidence and positivity and have good eye contact. Decide in advance if you will shake your interviewer’s hand (learn how to do this well before hand). Once sat down, keep your feet flat on the floor, and your hands in your lap or on the table, as this can help you come across as self-assured – and allow you to focus on answering the questions asked, and building rapport with your potential employer, rather than worrying about your posture, if you feel under interview pressure.

There is a lot more to interviews than can be put into a single insight post. However, now that you have more of a starting point than just looking over interview questions, you may want to also have a look at our other careers resources on our careers top tips page. Or if you want to put your newfound knowledge to work, have a look at our vacancies page, to see if they match any of our roles!