Interview Tips

Business Insights

In response to a growing trend with 5400 monthly searches in the UK for interview tips, I wanted to reach out to you with tips that the team at iQ Student Accommodation have pulled together for students, alumni, and anyone else who may need a helping hand with their first stage of online interviewing.

The team at iQ recognise the significance and nervousness people may feel being invited to what may be their first ever online interview. How should you prepare? What should you wear when you're not in person? Their team have compiled a comprehensive 10-step guide, tailored to students, designed to empower people with valuable insights, tips, and tricks to make a lasting impression during virtual interviews:

1. Find a quiet space

Make yourself free of distractions. The biggest thing you need is a quiet space where you can hear your interviewer and your interviewer can hear you. Try sit at a desk if you have access to one, ideally with a background where people won't be walking past causing any distraction.

2. Do a tech check

Before the interview, make sure all your tech is in working order. Test your camera, microphone and internet connection by doing an online speed test (just Google "speed test"). We all get tech issues but tech issues during an interview can throw you off your flow so making sure you are good to go in advance can help calm the nerves.

3. Create a solid background

Mess in the background isn't going to look great for you. Try sprucing things up with plants, books or anything that reflects your personality. This can even lead to some conversation with your interviewer about your hobbies or likes outside of work. Try to balance looking professional while showing who you are.

4. Dress to impress

You'll need to make yourself look presentable even in a virtual space – but you do have the fun of only having to worry about the waist up. So, professional on top, party on the bottom if that's what will make you feel confident and comfortable. You'll be surprised how a bit of formalwear can give you a feeling of power and confidence in an interview.

5. Headphones or no headphones?

Headphones can help to minimise distractions so you can only focus on your interviewer and make things clearer. However, make sure these headphones work and that you can hear a clear sound without any background noise. Test your headphones/sound quality on the platform of your interview with a friend before the real deal.

6. Perfect your pitch

Interviewers will often ask you who you are and expect you to describe yourself. Prepare a short and snappy elevator pitch to make an impression, shout out your skills and experience, and talk about what you're looking for. Think 30 seconds – and make them count.

7. Take time to pause

In any online meeting, it's easy to talk over one another. Pause at the end of a question to make sure you're not talking over the interviewer – delays can make it difficult to know when someone is finished talking.

8. Don't panic over tech

A lot of the world has been working online for a while now – we're all used to the accidental muting, connection cutting out and trouble being heard. If something goes wrong, roll with it. Don't panic and instead show that you can get over little obstacles. A bit of humour might help here and will show your personality.

9. Keep up a smile

Online interviews can feel awkward, but don't let that show on your face. Keep up a natural smile and show that you're interested and engaged in the conversation. That doesn't mean grinning from start to finish, but let the interviewer know that you're warm and approachable.

10. Bookend the interview

Without a handshake, you'll need to rely on your charm to start and finish the interview. Begin with a confident "hello" and even a "how has your morning/day been?" and finish with a "thank you", "goodbye" and "enjoy the rest of your day". This will all help with leaving a good first impression.

For extra prep on what questions, you may be likely to hear in a first-stage interview, iQ have popped 10 of the most common interview questions their team can think of below along with what companies want to gain out of asking these questions:

    1. Tell us (the interviewer) about yourself.This question allows the interviewer to understand your background, experience, and how you present yourself.

    2. What interests you about this role/company? Assessing your knowledge of the company and your motivations for applying.

    3. Can you describe your experience with [specific skill or technology relevant to the job]? Evaluating your technical or job-specific skills and expertise.

    4. What do you know about our company? Assessing your research and understanding of the company's values, mission, and culture.

    5. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Evaluating your self-awareness and understanding of your professional capabilities.

    6. Describe a challenging situation at work/university and how you handled it. Assessing your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and ability to navigate challenges.

    7. How do you prioritise and manage your workload? Understanding your organisational and time-management skills.

    8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Assessing your career goals and ambitions, and whether they align with the company's trajectory.

    9. What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? Showcasing your accomplishments and highlighting relevant skills.

    10. Tell me about a time when you worked successfully in a team. Assessing your interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate with others.

Finally, an interviewer will usually ask you if you have any questions for them at the end of an interview. The team at iQ recommend having 2-3 questions lined up that show your keen interest in the company. This can be anything from how many people are part of the team you'd be joining, to the work culture as a whole.

For more tips for students, you can visit iQ's reading room at