I was recently asked what someone fresh from university should expect when attending an interview for a graduate engineer position. There is no simple answer as each organisation has their own recruitment and selection process, but from my experience of recruiting fresh graduates this is what I look for.

(1) Can they do the job?

This will often be separated into a technical interview and some form of problem solving exercise, to see how the candidate thinks and the logic they follow. More and more candidates have little or no work experience and so I seek evidence of their understanding of the world of work, what they seek and what they understand the company will want from them. Why did they choose the degree subject they read? Why have they applied for the role? What are their career aspirations?

(2) Will they fit into the organisation and team?

The ability to communicate (beyond sending a text or Instagram) both orally and in written form. (It astounds me how many CV’s and covering letters have spelling mistakes even though word processing software has a spellcheck function!).

Appearance: be smart, on time and confident (make eye contact and be friendly).

Ability to work in a team is important, think in advance of the interview, what examples you will use to demonstrate your ability to work in a team, what is the best team you have been involved in and why was it good? What was your role in the team?

(3) Motivation and enthusiasm for the role?

If an applicant has a degree or equivalent qualification and their CV has passed the interview selection criteria then they have the academic capability to do the advertised role. What I would look for is their enthusiasm and motivation to flourish and go the extra mile. Do they have the aptitude and capability to take on responsibility (e.g. have they held positions in university societies, youth organisations, sports teams etc.)? Do they have a wider knowledge than just the modules covered in their degree? Do they have hobbies or interests related to their degree and the role they will have if successful?

In all of the selection process I seek examples and evidence and so anticipating the questions and considering how you can provide evidence and examples to support your answer is time well spent.

Finally, I recommend that in advance of the application you research the company to (1) see if it is a company you want to work for and (2) to get a better understanding of the company, its products, activities and hence your likely role. At interview you should use this to demonstrate you have done this research (helps demonstrate your motivation) and the foundation to ask questions to clarify or confirm anything you an unsure of.