Graduate Interview Tips

Competency-based interviews are the basis of most graduate interviews, hence the need to read our graduate interview tips.

Graduate Interview Tips

Interviews that are structured around a set of competencies have been shown to be considerably more reliable and predictive of future work performance than the traditionally “unstructured” interview format. In fact competency-based interviews (CBI) have become such an established part of recruitment processes that it is not unusual to encounter candidates who have learnt their best competency examples by heart!

Graduate Interview Tips

Interviewing Introduction

A well conducted interview should form the basis of every selection process, but it does have limitations because no matter how skilled the interview process is, it can still only collect self-reported information from the candidate.

Thus, the most effective way of predicting job performance is to use a mix of assessments. In addition to a graduate interview.

Matching assessment exercises to the role and level

Graduate level roles typically involve several online aptitude tests and a personality profile.

Managerial roles require a range of assessment exercises and psychometric tools. These are complex roles requiring a broad range of skills, knowledge and abilities involved. It is fairer and more professional for a company to use this multi-assessment approach.

Graduate Assessment Options

Graduate Interview tips

A well conducted interview should form the basis of every selection process, but it does have limitations because no matter how skilled the interview process is, it can still only collect self-reported information from the candidate, for example:

The panel might ask a candidate to give examples of problems they have tackled and explore their knowledge of problem solving techniques, but an assessment exercise which allows the candidate to demonstrate this ability in practice is likely to be more informative.

Safer and Fairer

Additional methods of assessment can, therefore:

  1. improve the quality and quantity of information on which to base the selection decision
  2. allow candidates to demonstrate how they meet requirements, rather than relying on self-report and performance at interview.

No perfect method of assessment exists, but the most effective way of predicting job performance is to use a mix of assessment methods and look at the results in an integrated way to build up a picture of the candidate. At the simplest level, this may involve no more than looking at examples of candidate’s past work (e.g. for a post which requires experience in producing clear and concise Committee reports, or information leaflets, publicity materials or instruction manuals). At its most complex and sophisticated it might be a full Assessment Centre using a range of tests and exercises for Senior Management positions.

Panels need to decide if it is appropriate to use additional assessment techniques beyond the interview. Think about the job level, the pool of candidates you need to attract and the criteria you need to assess against. For many jobs, the interview alone will be the most appropriate approach.

  • For many basic level operative and clerical jobs, particularly where there is a constant need to recruit, the best method is to use the Fast Track to Interview approach, where all interested job seekers are automatically invited to interview, helped if necessary to complete a simplified application form and interviewed against the person specification without delay as the only method of assessment.
  • Recruitment initiatives targeting jobs to unemployed residents should not use methods of assessment beyond the interview, unless this is strictly essential. The interview should be conducted in as informal and encouraging way as possible.
  • It is not appropriate to use a battery of assessment techniques for jobs requiring basic level skills. Rather than enhance the outcome, this is more likely to put potential applicants off.
  • Never use assessment tools for their own sake. Selection decisions will only be enhanced if the assessment tool is really needed to get at information that cannot be obtained otherwise.

Getting the Basics Right

Quality Standards and Preparatory Steps

In all cases ensure that:

  • The choice and construction of each assessment method flows from the requirements of the job;
  • The Job description and Person Specification have been reviewed and are up-to-date
  • Tasks in assessment exercises compare with tasks found in the job;
  • Tests and exercises assess requirements for the job, at the right level to do the job
  • When using a newly devised test or exercise, wherever possible pilot it with a group of existing employees in the area of work.
  • Always offer feedback on test and exercise results.

Never just reuse tests or exercises without reviewing their effectiveness in the past.