Graduate success and employability
Resources from the York St John Careers team to help you successfully apply for graduate opportunities.
Found an option that feels right for you but want some tips on how to apply successfully?
Learn about different recruitment practices, brush up on your interview skills and test out the latest artificial intelligence recruitment tools.
Interviews and assessments
If your job application is successful, you will likely have a face to face interview with the employer, where you will be asked a series of questions to determine whether you are right for the role. Sometimes you will have assessments, tasks or presentations to complete alongside your panel interview. The employer will usually make you aware of this beforehand, so that you have time to prepare.
Interviews are also a great opportunity for you to decide if the role is right for you, and can support you to learn and develop. Even if the outcome of your interview is that you do not get the job, we would encourage you to ask for feedback from the employer, so that you understand what you can improve on moving forwards.
No matter whether your interview is online, face to face, or in a group, our top tips below can help you understand what to expect, and how best to prepare.
There are many types of interviews that you may attend as part of a recruitment process. When you are invited to an interview, you will likely be told what type of interview you will have. This will allow you to prepare accordingly.
1 to 1 interview
A 1 to 1 interview occurs between a sole interviewer and an interviewee. As a candidate you may face a series of formal or informal questions which are used to assess your suitability for the role. These interviews will often be evaluated using a scoring system which considers how well you answered the questions.
Similarly to a 1 to 1 interview, a panel interview will involve the candidate being asked a series of questions. This difference is that this process involves 2 or more interview panel members. It is likely that they will share the questions out between them and may pause regularly to take notes.
Video interviews tend to be split into 2 formats: Live and recorded. A live video interview is very similar to a panel interview but will take place online, often using video meeting software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Recorded interviews may require you to submit video recordings of yourself answering interview questions. You may only get 1 or 2 opportunities to do this so it's important that you are prepared.
For all video interviews, make sure you have a working camera and microphone and are free from any distractions. It is also a good idea to check the link you've been sent in advance. You may wish to apply a background blur to your video if you are at home (this can be done on the video call itself). Check that you have good lighting and that your head and shoulders are clearly visible and centred within the frame. The advantage of a video interview is that you are in your own environment, and you don't have to travel to the venue. You can have notes as prompts, but it's important to not rely on them.
Group interviews are often used by employers to assess your ability to work within a group. It may be that they have multiple vacancies and are looking to hire more than 1 candidate, or it may be that the role involves a substantial amount of group work. A group interview is your chance to shine, but not overshadow others. This LinkedIn article on Group interviews has further information and advice on how to navigate them.
Assessments or tasks
Sometimes an employer will ask you to complete a task within your interview. This could be amongst a group of other candidates, with other members of the team, or alone on a computer. For presentations, you will be told what to do beforehand. We would recommend looking at our Psychometric tests or Presentation skills resources to prepare for this.
What should I wear?
This may depend on the role you are applying for. If it is a hands-on, practical job, you may be asked to wear work-boots or long trousers. For most graduate jobs, or if it is not specified, we would recommend dressing smartly, in tailored trousers or a skirt with a shirt or blouse. Clothes should be clean, professional and tidy.
How do I greet the interviewer?
Greeting the interview panel with a firm handshake can be a great way to make a good first impression. If you are unable to shake hands, or do not feel comfortable doing so post-pandemic, it should not hinder your chances of getting the job. You should always introduce yourself and allow the interviewers to introduce themselves to you. Remember to be polite, well-mannered and enthusiastic, allowing your positivity and personality to come across. If you have any additional requirements or adjustments, it is best practice to let the employer know ahead of time, so that they are able to accommodate you and avoid stress during the interview.
What if I don’t understand the question?
If you don’t understand an interview question, or you need some time to think about it, it's not a problem to ask the interviewer for further clarity. They are human too and want you to do well.
What about body language?
It is best practice to sit naturally, without slouching or leaning. Try to be relaxed and confident and speak in a way that is natural to you. Making eye contact, if you feel comfortable to do so, can help to make a positive connection with the interviewers.
You can download our mock interview questions to help you prepare. We would recommend practising with a friend or family member. Remember that it's important to provide evidence to support your statements, drawing on examples from your studies or any work experience you have.
It's important to do your research into the organisation that you're interviewing with. Consider questions such as: What are their values or mission statement? What challenges are they facing? What is it about the organisation that has made you want that job?
Nerves are a normal part of interviews, but it is important that you are in control of them. You may find it helpful to take some deep breaths before you go into the interview, or to have something nice planned afterwards as a treat. Be sure to check out our Managing your wellbeing resources to support with anxiety in the recruitment process.
You may be considering whether undertaking a postgraduate degree is the right choice for you. When considering postgraduate education, you need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages, which will be unique to your own situation. For some professions, postgraduate qualification may be beneficial, or even necessary. It may also be that you are seeking a route into academia. Below are some resources that may be useful for you to initially explore options available to you, but to also look into how you can successfully apply for a postgraduate course.
A personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself and demonstrate your suitability for the course.
Download our example personal statement to see how you can show your suitability.
Working for yourself
Starting a business
Do you have a business idea? Do you want to work for yourself as a freelancer or in a self-employed capacity? Whether you have a spark of an idea or a more developed business opportunity, support and guidance is available to help you explore your next steps.
Useful resources and support available can be found on the Kickstart Programme pages on the York St John website.
Explore support available with The Enterprise Centre at York St John.
The Prince's Trust provide help and advice to 18 to 30 year olds who are interested in starting their own business.