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Class of 2020: Graduate Job Search Advice During COVID


Looking for your first ‘real job’ or kicking off your ‘post-college career’ can be stressful and for the class of 2020, there are a whole new list of unexpected challenges.

The good news is that many of our clients are still hiring graduates, and proceeding with their graduate programmes. If you’ve just finished university take this as a time to really think about what you want. Reflect on your employability and your skills. What are your areas of interest? What would you really love to do?

From a recruitment point of view the dynamic of hiring has changed, and in many ways for the better. Interviews are now much more streamlined, and hiring is happening faster. Hospitality or customer-facing roles are in decline, but other sectors are thriving such as biopharma, e-commerce and medical technology.

It’s also a great time to do free online courses or spend time properly updating your CV and honing your interview skills.

Not sure where to start? Below you’ll find a complete overview of graduate interview questions, how to prepare for a video interview and CV advice to help you get the interviews you want.

Graduate interview questions

As a result of COVID-19, the interview dynamic has changed for graduates. Employers are working remotely, and most interviews are now video interviews.

Previously a traditional interview process could take 3 / 4 days of your time (factoring in commuting and scheduling). Now it should take no more than 3 / 4 hours total.

As a result of this efficiency, the nature of interviews has also changed, and they are now more focused. So how can you prepare?

Competency based interviews

Most graduate video interviews will be competency based. This means employers will want to hear examples that showcase your skills and your educational and professional experiences.

Some skills you are likely to be asked about include:

Competency based graduate question examples

  • Teamwork – tell me about a time you displayed good teamwork?

  • Communication – can you describe a time you showcased effective communication skills?

  • Collaboration – our team collaborates a lot, can you tell us about a project you worked on that required collaboration?

  • Resilience – our organisation is going through change, are you comfortable with this? Can you tell us about a time where you had to develop resilience before?

What would you say when asked about these kinds of situations? Do you have examples ready? If not now is the time to prepare some. For a full list of competency-based questions click here.

TIP Have flashcards ready with your key points

Video Interview Tips

Video interviews aren’t just new for you they’re new for many employers too. As a result, they are making an extra effort to ensure everyone is comfortable and the format is a little more relaxed.

Use this to your advantage but remember it is still an interview – be professional and dress for the occasion. One of my favourite pieces of advice to give, and use, is the ‘Elevator Pitch’.

If you were in an elevator with the CEO of your dream company and had just 30 seconds to impress them, what would you say to convince them you’re the person for the job? Likewise, if you had 3 minutes, and then 30 minutes.

Articulating why you’re the person for a job in just 30 seconds is a real challenge and takes a lot of preparation. Thinking about yourself and your skills in this way is a brilliant technique to establish your ‘Unique Value Proposition’ and prepare for any interview.

Here are some more tips to help you prepare and keep your composure:

  • It may be a cliché, but practise does make perfect. Have a really clear understanding of what you want to articulate before you go into each interview. We’d recommend 8 hours to prepare and practice.

  • Don’t practice alone. Do a mock video interview with someone who you trust and who will give honest feedback. This could be a family member, a friend or a recruiter.

  • Expect distractions and acknowledge them if they happen. For example, if a younger sibling comes into the room don’t panic. Instead, take it as a chance to show that you can manage stressful situations.

  • Different employers will expect different dress codes. Do your research on the company or if you’re working with a recruiter ask their opinion. They should have a good insight into the company culture and appropriate dress style.

  • Don’t forget about body language. Your interviewer might not remember every word you say but they will remember your tone of voice and how engaging you are. A good tip is to remember to look at the camera, not at the screen – this way you’ll maintain better eye contact. Here is some research (from UCLA) – strong communication matters!

Source: graduateland

CV Tips for Graduates

As a result of COVID and high unemployment levels, there is naturally more competition for jobs. You may even be competing against more experienced people so it’s vital to tailor your CVand to make sure it’s really clear why you should be interviewed.

Thinking about elevator pitch in this instance can be helpful.

A good graduate CV should have:

  • Clear professional experience and successes

  • Any unique selling points relevant to the job you’re applying for

  • Academic achievements

  • Good grammar and spelling – always double-check

  • No longer than 2 pages

Make it as easy as possible for the employer to decide to interview you and be flexible. For example, contract and temporary jobs can be a great option and a really good way of getting into a company.

None of us could have predicted that the graduate jobs search in 2020 would look like this. Overall try not to stress and remember everyone is in the same position. Use this time to reflect, prepare, practice and learn.

If you’re still unsure how to approach finding a graduate job please get in touch, one of our recruiters would be happy to advise.