Interview Techniques – Advice for Students at Plymouth University

There is no doubt that your student accommodation in Plymouth is very important and if you are with Student Rooms 4 U (, then that part of uni life is sorted and you have peace of mind. But what about getting a job to supplement your student loan?

Whatever job you’re hoping to get, the interview process is something we all have to go through. Even part-time and summer jobs will have some sort of interview element, but the interview will be different depending on the role you’re going for. In this article we’ll look at different places where you can search for a job, how to prepare for your interview and what to do on the day. Some people are born naturals at interviews whereas others are prone to nervousness. Following these tips will give you a great chance of coming across positively when you meet your future boss.

Job Search

These days, most people look online when it comes to finding a job. Job search websites include Indeed, Total Jobs, Monster, Reed, Jobsite, Gumtree, and Job Search. Plymouth Uni also has its own jobs board. While using an online search engine can yield the greatest number of results, it mightn’t be so useful if you want to go into something specific, or if you want to stay in a small, local area.

If you’re looking for something local, particularly part-time or summer work, you might be better off by homing your search. Walking around your local town, you’ll no doubt see countless ‘hiring’ signs in the windows of shops, cafés, restaurants and other local businesses. To see a directory of local jobs, why not pick up a local newspaper and see what’s current? The trouble with online jobs is that you can often trawl through endless jobs that are actually out of date. However, buying a recent newspaper won’t come up with duds where deadlines have passed. Also, if you’re looking for something local, try word of mouth – ask friends and family if they know of anywhere that’s hiring, or post a question on a local Facebook group.

If you’re searching for full-time work in a specific field, your search will instantly be narrowed. Rather than searching for current positions, you might find yourself contacting good companies in your field directly to inquire about any upcoming opportunities. This is a great way to ‘get in’ with a company you know and would like to work for – if they have your CV to hand before the job even comes up, you might be in with a chance of getting contacted before the job is opened to the public.

Before the Interview

Congratulations! You’ve been offered an interview and now just have to get yourself ready for the event. How much preparation you put in depends on the job. Obviously, if you’re applying for your ‘forever job’ with an awesome company, you’ll put more into your preparation than for a summer job flipping burgers. Regardless of the position you’re going for, you’ll want to give yourself the best chance of getting hired and there are some things you can do which will give you the edge:

  • Getting experience in your field of work can help employers to take you seriously. This is more applicable for long-term, full-time applications than for part-time jobs.
  • Research the company before the interview – finding out a few facts like when it opened and what its company ethos is can really impress an interviewer.
  • Think about what skills and experiences you have that will be helpful in this job. Remember that your interviewer might ask you to talk about these points, so be ready to show off your best side.
  • Consider how smart you need to be. For example, if you’re graduating this year and applying to join a marketing firm, you’ll want to wear a suit to your interview. However, selling ice-cream at a stand in the summer is a job that won’t require such a smart interview attire.
  • Take care of yourself before your interview – eat well, sleep enough, and make sure you look like a happy, healthy human being! You don’t have to be super smart but you should make an effort to look (and smell) clean.

Interview Technique

It’s the big day! You’re probably feeling a bit nervous, but use that adrenaline to push on through and do as well as you can. Meeting your interviewer is the first face-to-face impression an employee has of you; this is how they’ll remember you. Even someone shy can come across well by employing these techniques.

Things you should do: Greet your interviewer with a handshake if it seems appropriate. Don’t be nervous about offering your hand. Greet them by name, and thank them for the opportunity to speak to them. Smile and make eye contact – even if you’re shy, doing these things will make you seem confident. Sit up straight and don’t slouch, and certainly don’t fidget.

Things you should say: When speaking, do so clearly. Don’t rush and don’t dawdle over your words either. When asked an important question, give a brief pause to show that you’re considering your answer and not just saying the first thing that pops into your head (though of course, questions like ‘What’s your name?’ don’t require any such pause!) Don’t use fillers like ‘uhh’ or ‘umm’. If you need thinking time, nod rather than making noises.

How to come across: Always be positive. Even if you’ve had bad experiences with previous employers, don’t mention it. Try to spin the question so you can talk about something good. No-one likes a moaner. If you make a mistake, don’t panic – just brush yourself off and carry on. Show that you’re interested by nodding and really listening to what they say to you. Don’t be cocky or give the impression that you think the job is yours already, and don’t downplay yourself with fake modesty either. Just be yourself.

What Interviewers Want and Don’t Want

Interviewers are looking for the following things:

  • Someone professional who understands the role
  • Someone with the skills to do the job
  • Someone experienced or who shows promise
  • Someone who seems honest, personable, friendly and who is being themselves

What puts off an interviewer?

  • Someone cocky or painfully shy
  • Someone who seems fake or disingenuous
  • Someone who turns up late or way too early
  • Someone who talks but doesn’t listen
  • Someone who has memorized facts and figures but can’t produce an opinion
  • Someone who shares inappropriate information or moans about previous employers

Remember that there are things you should do after the interview, too. Don’t hound them, but it’s reasonable to send a follow-up email thanking them for the interview opportunity and that you hope to hear from them soon, and then another follow-up after a reasonable length of time if you don’t hear anything back. Be professional, stay positive, and remember that even if the interview goes perfectly there might still be a candidate who is more experienced/more highly skilled than you are, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it. Chalk it up to experience and move on.

The Team at Student Room 4 U ( is here for all your student accommodation in Plymouth needs but we hope that this advice will put you in good stead for future interviews and jobs!