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Your Guide To Nailing That Job Interview

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Confidence is key when it comes to interviews

If you’ve nearly finished your studies and set to launch your career, you need to be ready for lift-off.

Putting in the time and effort now can place you in the best possible position to push your application into the interview pile, then your name to the top of the preferred candidate list. So what to you need to do?

Know your audience

Your studies have prepared you for your industry, now you need to look into the employer you are applying to. Internet searches, phone calls, talking to industry professionals, learning as much as you can about who you want to work for.

Think about what you have to offer them. You’ll have a freshly minted qualification, but there’s more to you than that – your personality, your interests, the soft skills that help you deal with colleagues and meetings and workplaces.

Your qualifications and experience go into your carefully crafted resume, and you weave yourself into the Key Selection Criteria requested in the job advertisement.

Shane Lawtey, team leader of Student Life and Media at Melbourne Polytechnic says his team, in conjunction with the counselling team and the Enrolment and Course Advisors, can help polish your resume and application letter and prepare for an interview.

All in the prep

Between them they run Careers Week, activities and workshops on resume prep, cover letters, key selection criteria and interview skills across all campuses and make appointments for one on one consultations.

‘We have done a number of different things to give students the tools and confidence to present themselves for employment,’ Shane says.

‘As students are getting towards the end of their courses, they might have covered off on some resume prep in class but they are wanting to make it as professional as they can and then get the confidence around presenting that, putting their best foot forward.

‘They should research the exact job that they want and really use language that relates to their industry within their application.’

It's key for a reason

Shane stresses the importance of properly addressing the Key Selection Criteria (KSC) in the application.

‘Where an employer asks you to address the key selection criteria, it’s important to actually do that, otherwise employers just won’t look at it.’

He says a resume is very different to a KSC response. The resume lists where you worked, what you did and when, but the selection criteria are where you can tell more of the story and weave in your knowledge and suitability for the role.

And the KSC come up again when you get to the interview stage.

‘It is highly likely that in an interview they will ask questions based around them,’ Shane says.

Tell your story 

‘KSC may also give you an opportunity to tell a bit about your personal story, a lot of employers will appreciate having a broader understanding of the applicant.’

In the interview you can elaborate and give examples, it may be an example that you’ve already given in your written application or something else that you’ve thought of that’s even better.

Candidates can practise possible questions with friends or family or a work colleague, then must arrive at the interview in plenty of time, dressed and groomed appropriately for the role, and carrying a notes to use as memory prompts.

Confidence wins 

‘Write extra stuff done so that you’re not going to be rattled. You’re going to be stressed anyway - it’s a natural thing to be quite stressed in that situation - but you can still be stressed and confident.

‘Have in your head a few different scenarios of what you might say or angles that you might come from.’

Answer the tricky questions honestly - no one’s perfect.

You can identify a weakness if asked, then explain how you are working to overcome that weakness, such as ‘sometimes I might overcommit and get a bit stressed as a result but last time I did it I spoke to my manager and I was able to create a bit of a work-life balance so that I didn’t burn out’.

Are THEY right for YOU

Shane says that he always ends interviews he is conducting with: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’

You can use that opportunity to clarify the wage or aspects of some of the tasks or management structure.

‘I enjoy those questions because it shows that the person has given a real consideration around where they fit in and to me that’s part of owning it,’ Shane says.

‘And if the question that you have saved to the ends happens to get mentioned during the interview don’t be afraid to say “my question was this but it was answered earlier”, so they can tell that you’ve prepared.’

Industry experts know the deal 

Some final advice? Call on your teachers for help, they are the industry experts.

‘The real beauty of Melbourne Polytechnic and what we have to offer is that the teachers are very open and helpful and if a student is going for a job in their industry, they should try to make some time to talk to their teacher to ask them questions,’ Shane says.

‘If the student has had limited experience the teacher might just be able to round off some of the jargon and explain what some of the industry expectations might be around certain types of roles and also contextualise it back to their learning so they might go, “show us the PD or KSC” and say “you’ve covered off on that back in semester 1”.

‘I think the teachers are strong allies as well as they are often in and out of industry anyway and they can be quite current and their whole purpose for being in the room is to help students get a job.’