Graduate Blog

Preparing For Interviews


You may have to give a presentation or participate in a group exercise if you’re going to attend an assessment centre day, or if you’ve been shortlisted for a job and you’ve been invited back for a follow-up interview.

These interview techniques allow employers to observe how you perform on a number of tasks, giving you the chance to showcase your practical skills away from the formal interview setting.

Whether you have to give an interview presentation or participate in a group exercise, this small guide will help you by providing a number of useful tips for success on the big day.

Interview presentations

Follow these simple tips to ensure your interview presentation is successful.

Spend time on your slides : Spend time working on your presentation and show potential employers that you commit your full efforts to the task at hand. Don’t opt for black bullet points on a white background, typed last thing the night before. Offer your prospective bosses something to remember you by!

Key points: What point are you trying to get across to the prospective employers? Choose three key points that you want the recruiters to take away from the presentation and keep reinforcing these, especially at the end in your conclusion. This will help your presentation be on-topic, concise and memorable.

Rehearse : The more you rehearse your presentation, the better it will be. Aim to rehearse it once or twice a day from now until your interview. Keep practicing and seek advise from somebody, whether an ex-lecturer, parent or professional. Take their advice on board and polish your presentation to perfection. The extra effort really will show on the day!

Research : It’s worth double-checking what type of technology will be available on the day. For example, It could be disastrous if you absent mindedly choose to email yourself the presentation file and then find out there’s no internet access where you’re staying, or you have difficulties connecting with your laptop. Be safe and back up your work on a pen drive! Also, is the file you’ve saved compatible with all versions of software on any computer? Perhaps it’s worth saving the presentation in several different formats, just to be sure?

Pace: Remember to pace your presentation. There’s nothing worse than listening to somebody rambling through their presentation as quick as they can!

Body language: Keep your body language open and stand at the front of the presentation area. Don’t huddle yourself in the corner with your arms folded, this just looks awful!

Finally, relax and smile: Before your presentation, take in a deep breath and then exhale slowly, forcing yourself to smile as you finish. Now you’re ready to give the presentation! Good luck!

Group exercises

Group exercises will involve you working with approximately 8-10 other people in a task set by the company’s recruitment team. This usually revolves around an imaginary scenario and a related question.

How it works:

Individuals usually have a limited amount of time to take notes before forming groups to discuss the scenario and reach a consensus. Usually, group exercises are restricted to around 10-20 minutes, so you have to work fast.

Your performance in a group task will be assessed as an individual. The recruiters may aim to seek out answers to some of the following questions:

  • Can the candidate argue logically?
  • Do they work as part of a team?
  • Are they passive or overbearing?
  • Do they explain themselves in a clear, concise manner?
  • How do they take criticism? Do they fight their corner?
  • Do they allow all members of the group to have a say?
  • Does the group reach a conclusion on the time allocated?
  • Is the candidate confident? Or over-confident?
  • Can the candidate be diplomatic with others?

Of course, there are plenty of other questions a recruiter will have and these can vary from field to field.

It will pay to think about how you’re working in the group on the day and have these questions at the back of your mind during the task. Remember to put your points across, with valid, logical explanations, but listen to others as they state their cases too.

Tips for surviving group exercises:

Try to keep on task, follow all instructions and don’t be afraid to tell the group you need to reach and consensus and move on to the next item.

Show your understanding of the company who is interviewing you and put across what you consider to be their viewpoint. For example you could say: “This company believes in … so, based on that, I think we should …”.

Work the situation by establishing yourself as a leader in a friendly way. Bring people into the discussion and motivate those who are unsure of their ideas.

Finally, it’s always wise to think your ideas through carefully before voicing your opinions.

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