In our employability series, our Kickstart Marketing Assistant, Joanna, shares her experience of working with us and her journey to change career path following her studies. This series of blogs provide insightful knowledge from the book From Learner to Earner by Sophie Milliken, independent research and relatable stories about the process of finding employment. Use these blogs to support, inspire and encourage Kickstart team members in your organisation and anyone you know seeking employment.

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For me, the interview has got to be the scariest, most daunting part of the process of seeking employment. Though it is absolutely pivotal to obtaining a position.

The employer wants to meet you! How exciting… (hides in a corner).

I won’t lie about it, there have been times where I have emailed an employer to tell them I would be unable to attend the interview due to coming down with an illness just to avoid the dreaded experience of an interview. Now, I regret doing that because even if you know you aren’t going to accept the position, going to the interview is 100% worth it because they are getting the chance to meet you, find out who you are and it might mean they will consider you for a job in the future. I was hired for my first part-time job because I was unsuccessful the first time and the manager who interviewed me remembered who I was and decided to give me a chance. Whereas I didn’t end up becoming the CEO of that company, it still gave me experience which allowed me to move on to other roles.

Preparing for interviews can leave you a bit lost too. How are you supposed to prepare for something when you have no idea what to expect? Some interviewers ask you the most common interview questions while others will feel more casual, like a conversation. These are known as strength-based questions. My advice is to have an answer in mind for all of the common questions, but make sure they are authentic to you and actually represent your skills and personality. Know the company and the job role so you can easily answer any questions they ask and have useful ones of your own ready to fire at the end of the interview.

In From Learner to Earner, Sophie Milliken advises us to use the STARR technique to answer competency-based questions. Competency-based questions are systematic and usually target specific skills needed for the job and using the ‘STARR’ method essentially just encourages you to describe the situation, explain the task to be done and the action you took, what the result was from your actions and reflect on what you learned during the process. As long as you explain the how, why’s and what’s in your answers, you will have a chance of a successful interview.

Asking someone to do a mock interview with you can be very helpful too. When I have went through a pretend interview with a friend or family member, I definitely have gone into the interview feeling more confident because I was prepared. I make that bold because preparation is probably the main key to success in the interview unless you already know the employer and have it in the bag.

The most relieving advice I have received about interviews is that you are expected and should just be yourself. There is no need to put on an act for an interview. It isn’t necessary to act like someone you are not because they want to see your personality, goals and passions and how you will fit in with the company. I have had positions in the past where I felt I didn’t fit in at all and it isn’t a nice feeling so you need to make sure you are 100% yourself so the hiring managers can make a decision about whether you would be happy working there too!

Good luck for the future and be confident you will find a place to let your best skills and assets shine!

You can find more useful information about preparing for interviews through LinkedIn, Sophie Milliken’s resources from her book and Prospects.

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Read more about Joanna in Our People and our other blogs in the series to get top tips from Jo about Job Hunting, CV writing and Applying.