Five Essentials for Graduate Job Hunters

Author Megan Speet

Graduate Jobs

​Graduates: needless to say, it’s a tough old world out there for you lot. A competitive, saturated and moreover daunting marketplace, with so much choice and yet little practical direction garnered from your studies (unless you did something vocational or extremely specific, that is).

So, how does one stand out in such a room, full of equally qualified, likely intelligent and seemingly ambitious individuals?

Something we try to reiterate with each and every fresh-faced grad who comes through our doors here at Certus is that sometimes it doesn’t come down to your CV, experience or education – sometimes, it’s all about the simple skill of communication.

It’s never been more important to articulate yourself clearly and concisely during interviews, whether over the phone and face to face; you could put the most highly qualified candidate possible in front of me, but if he or she were unable to properly tell me what I wanted to know… They’re not securing the job.

Now, on the other hand, perhaps I’ve just interviewed someone who’s not as impressive on paper but blew me away with the vigour with which they answered – and asked – questions; the interest they showed, the passion which their voice displayed.

This is who I’m more likely to hire.

With all this in mind, here are some communication-focused tips compiled by us to maximise your success at interview.

1) Annunciate!

Whilst you’re being interviewed, make sure you speak clearly and openly – head up, shoulders back – and pronounce each word properly. Mumbling, talking through your hands (as in, touching your face and mouth – talking WITH your hands is fine) or lazy pronunciation (don’t forget those t’s) can predicate a lack of interest, or enthusiasm, or general effort on your part. And what does that say about you as a future employee?

2) Don’t play the smart guy.

This is something we see time and time again – and it’s not a great look.

Fundamentally, don’t try to appear smarter than you undoubtedly are by using words you don’t actually know the meaning of, or answering questions you just don’t know the answer to. Period.

To use a classic example, being “pacifically” interested (correction: specifically) in one sector of the business…

You’re clearly a clever cookie, or you wouldn’t be here. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by trying to get technical, or pretending you know things you don’t – this goes for answering questions too. Any interviewer will much more respect you for saying, “Actually, I’m not sure – please could you give me an overview?” than trying to wing your way through a subject which is beyond your knowing.

3) Articulate answering.

It’s extremely important to articulate what you’re meaning to say throughout an interview. What I mean by this is, if you’re asked a question about your future goals, answer that question; don’t start explaining your skillset and how it’s going to be of benefit to me… Eventually winding up at where you see yourself in five years. If you’re asked to discuss the job description in hand, don’t begin a long-winded history of your work employment to date, finally ending up with how it relates to this role.

Articulating a relevant answer to each question is key; tell me what you want to say, clearly and concisely, without making me have to work in a roundabout way to get what I’m after. If need be, take a few seconds before you start talking. There’s nothing worse than halfway through an answer realising you’ve not really answered the question and having to backtrack – your interviewer has already taken note.

4) The mortal sin: swearing.

I get it. You’ve been in the interview for almost an hour now and things are going well; you’ve moved past the formal questions and we’re into what we’d call the ‘cultural fit’ side of the interview – interests, personal life, plans for the weekend, and so on and so forth. You have a sneaky suspicion you might be getting the call on this one.

And then it slips out.

Just a little swear word; not a terrible nor hugely offensive one, but a swear word no less.

I’m not saying it represents how well you’ll do the job, nor am I saying that every interviewer you encounter is going to be brutally offended by your small yet significant faux pas; but why take the risk? Swearing during an interview, regardless of the context, shows a lack of professionalism and oftentimes can make you appear as being overfamiliar; ultimately, it’s a sure-fire way to cut your chances of being progressed. Consider the age-old saying that swearing demonstrates a lack of vocabulary – bear that in mind and don’t do it, no matter how relaxed/comfortable/confident you may be feeling.

5) Get excited!

Point blank, nothing goes further in an interview than interest – in the individual, the company, the role you’re interviewing for. When communicating with an interviewer, ensure that your voice reflects the excitement you have in securing this role; you should be dynamic, upbeat, using positive and inclusive language.

Show them that you want this position through the tone of your voice – if you’re uninterested, dull and monotone, that’s exactly how you’ll leave your counterpart feeling.

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To reiterate, your interviews aren’t necessarily going to be about the depths of trivia which pertain to your field of study (although, even if they were, these tips still stand).

Regardless of the contents of the interview, how you communicate is crucial. Your speech – the dynamism in your voice, the changing tones, the personality you exude – is key. After all, this is how you’re going to henceforth communicate with their customers, suppliers and otherwise, not to mention your colleagues.

At interview, it’s important to represent yourself to your highest degree – no pun intended – and show the interviewer the type of employee you’re going to be.

You’ve done the hard part; you’ve got the degree and secured the interview. Now get out there and tell them what you can do.

Trust me: having the ‘know how’ is no good without being able to explain exactly that.