Graduate interviews – The Six Don’ts


Our top tips to master a graduate interview.


My time in graduate recruitment has not been long but I have been struck by the number of avoidable mistakes candidates can make. For this reason I am highlighting six basic things to avoid at Interview. These are not exhaustive and sound obvious but are worth bearing in mind as I have seen them repeated in my short time at Dartmouth Partners, and the obvious isn’t always what you think about.

  1. Don’t be late – This goes without saying but it is surprising how easy it is to be late, simply for those extra 10 minutes at home, studying in the library or with your friends. Don’t be complacent, and always build extra time into your journey to make up for those packed tubes, bus diversions or google maps failing.
    For candidates with several interviews to think about, it’s vital to make sure you have the correct time and place in your diary. Being late will give the impression that you are unorganised, unreliable and may not take the potential job seriously, unappealing traits for an employer. That said, don’t be too early. Arriving 10 minutes before your interview allows for plenty of time, as any earlier can be disruptive to busy schedules.
  2. Don’t scrimp on preparation – Make sure you have done your homework and avoid missing the basics. Even with everything to remember, it is astonishing that interviewees manage to overlook simple facts, such as what the company actually does and how it accomplishes its goals. Also, it is important to display a depth and breadth of knowledge, to demonstrate you are truly interested in the role, distinguishing yourself as a strong potential candidate.
  3. Don’t answer the wrong question – Make sure you listen carefully to the question being asked. Candidates often don’t pay enough attention to the interviewer, sometimes turning to a clumsy reconstruction of a prepared answer, or even giving an answer to a question they would have preferred to hear. You don’t want to come across as if you didn’t understand the question and you don’t want to sound too rehearsed.
  4. Don’t overcomplicate things – Clear and concise answers are best, marking you out as sharp, switched on and to the point. Avoid repetition and being verbose, as the temptation of going off on a tangent in an attempt to show how much you know will make you seem muddled and lost.
  5. Don’t give one word answers – In my experience so far I have been surprised by how many candidates will give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, having to be prompted to support their answers and explain why that is the case. Always try to explain the reason for your answer otherwise it can appear as if you don’t have enough to say.
  6. Don’t over-rely on your CV – Time and time again I have been taken aback by how people with impressive CVs fall short at interview. It is not enough to shine on paper, if you don’t perform at the interview in a way that sells yourself and your skills, it will leave doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you may not be the right person for the job.


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