Alumna Chantelle Nyarko is an internal recruiter at Credit Suisse. A member of our YAA Networks, she shares her five tips for getting that dream job.
1. Know what you want
Recruiters can always tell the difference between a candidate who truly wants a specific role and a candidate who just wants any job. To show your interest, make sure you do your research – and not just a basic Wikipedia search or skimming the job description! Start at a micro level – why do you want this specific role? Then think about why you want to work in that specific team, company, sector and industry. Use this research to demonstrate that you’ve actually thought about your career development.
2. Don’t waffle
This is probably the most overused piece of advice when it comes to interviews, but I cannot stress how important it is. The length and detail of a candidate’s answer can underline certain strengths and/or weaknesses in their character (e.g. ability to perform under pressure, attention to detail, etc.). A little trick I use when interviewing is that if I’m not immediately sure of the answer I want to give, I take a sip of water, which gives me a few extra seconds to gather my thoughts. Interviewers would much rather there be a few moments of silence while you compose yourself, rather than having the candidate filling the silence with irrelevant information.
3. Be honest
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so! Making up an answer creates a very negative impression which will be hard to come back from (and your interviewer will know). For example, try spinning a gap in knowledge into a potential personal development that you have identified and are working on. This shows a self-awareness and willingness to learn that all employers will be impressed by.
4. Make yourself memorable
It’s very easy to disregard extra-curricular activities when in an interview, but those may be the details that will set you apart. Interviewers will be constantly meeting candidates from similar backgrounds who have done similar courses. Highlight something you have done outside academia that has enhanced your skills, whether it be another job, a sport or volunteer work. Another way to make yourself memorable is finding a connection with your interviewer through research. I once interviewed for a role and it turned out that my interviewer and I had both been in Langwith College at York!
You never know what will be asked in an interview, but if you study the job specification, you will have a good idea of the skills that the interviewers will be looking for. Practising your competency-based questions will help calm your nerves, and put you in a good position to shine. Rehearsing your answers will also aid you in removing any irrelevant information and portraying an image of self-confidence. Try and pick examples from different areas in your life – choosing examples from academia / work and your extra-curricular activities demonstrates you’re a well-rounded individual who uses all aspects of their life for self-improvement.
6. Present yourself in the best light
It’s a well-known fact that you only have seven seconds to make a positive first impression – outside this timeframe, it’s very difficult to change someone’s perception of you. Make sure you dress appropriately for the role you’re applying for – you want your clothes to draw as little attention as possible so stay away from bright aggressive colours such as red, orange and yellow. If you have long hair, pull it away from your face. The handshake should be firm and confident – soft, flimsy handshakes can set an uncomfortable tone for the rest of the meeting. Another important thing to remember is eye contact. It can actually be a little uncomfortable to hold someone’s eye contact for a long period of time, but it shows an underlying confidence that interviewers will respond to. Missing out any one of these things can retract from the impression that you make. And of course, don’t forget to smile!