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How to smash your next interview – Bossing It

27 October 2023

Amazing – you’ve been offered an interview for an exciting new role, but what next!? Sometimes anticipating an interview can feel daunting, but with the right preparation you can rest assured that you’ll be able to tackle it with confidence. We spoke to some of our wonderful alumni who have shared their top tips on how to smash your next interview. 

Owain Gronow (BEng 2009, MSc 2010)

Owain is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Principal Civil Engineer working in the bridges sector, designing and assessing the capacity of bridges. Owain is currently working on the Core Valley Lines with Amey, supporting the transformation of the rail network in South Wales and the development of the Metro.

Preparation and enthusiasm are key.  

If you’ve been invited to an interview, that shows you have the correct credentials for the role. What differentiates you now from the competition is the interview. A successful interview depends on your answer to questions and how you present yourself. Prepare for the interview looking into the company, the role and try to meet with potential members of the interview panel – they may give you hints of what questions may be asked. Employers are often interested in whether you are the right fit for the team, so show enthusiasm and ask questions that make you sound keen. 

Nadine Lock (BA 2001)

Nadine studied English Literature at Cardiff University with French before completing her PGCE. Working with people led Nadine into a career in HR and Recruitment in the Private and Third Sector for the Co-operative Bank, Adecco and Hays. Having worked at Tenovus Cancer Care for the last ten years Nadine is currently seconded to managing recruitment on a year’s hiatus from her role as HR & Volunteer Manager.

View interviews as a mutual opportunity. 

An interview can certainly strike fear into the best of us. But, perhaps we should reframe it in our minds. See it as a conversation for information gathering for you and your interviewer too. So, this is the time to make sure it’s the right place for you to do what you’re good at and where you can learn and develop too.   

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find this out and show how interested you are in the opportunity. Take basic note prompts of your questions to refer to in the interview if that helps. And, ask at the end if you’ve covered what the interviewer needed before thanking them for their time.  

Interviewers are looking for strong transferable skills such as problem solving, creativity, logic and how we go about communicating. They’ll be assessing how you can bring those things and add value. So, really listen to the questions, pause, and think about your answers to make sure you’re telling them why they should invest in you.  

Joe Lowe (BA 2020)

Joe studied French and Spanish at Cardiff University and started working at Admiral Group PLC alongside his studies, where he then went onto manage Admiral’s rotational talent development programmes (including their graduate programmes). This means creating a pipeline of talent with the skills needed to fuel their future growth and success. Joe has recently started his new role as Data Academy – Data Operations Lead at Admiral.

Envisage yourself in the role. 

My one piece of interview advice would be to think about how you will actually do the role – what will your first 30 days, 90 days, a year look like? Focussing on how you would do the job rather than just getting it will inform your research and help you prep in a way that is rounded, practical and authentic rather than by giving generic answers.  

Snow Thant (BSc 2018)

Snow graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Neuroscience before kickstarting her career in recruitment. Snow now works as a Student Recruitment Senior Associate at PwC.

Do your research! 

My biggest interview advice is research! Research the company, research the role, and if you can, reach out the people who did the role before you. Use tools like Google, the company’s website, GlassDoor and LinkedIn. Your experience is important but it’s even more important that the employers know that you understand the company, its culture, and the role. Your knowledge is what will make you stand out amongst the other equally suitable candidates.   

The Cardiff University community are a helpful bunch, here to help you get ahead in your chosen career. You can browse through their advice and top tips on a wide range of business topics in our ‘Bossing It’ series.