How to ace an interview at... CGI

How to ace an interview at... CGI

Rehearse your answers – or sound spontaneous? And how can you combat pre-interview nerves? Alexandra Sinton, head of student recruitment at the multinational IT firm, reveals all


Interviews can be tricky. Should you be yourself – or the person you think the interviewer wants you to be? Should you rehearse your answers, or is it best to sound spontaneous? And when they ask if you have any questions for them, what should you say? Alexandra Sinton, head of student recruitment at multinational IT firm CGI, reveals her secrets for acing any interview…

DO be nervous

“Pre-interview butterflies may feel uncomfortable, but they’re actually a good thing! Being nervous shows you care – and it’s likely you’ll calm down once you start talking. If you’re so anxious that you fear your performance may suffer, tell the interviewer. They are only human after all, I promise! The vast majority can remember exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes (and don’t forget, they did an interview to get their job, too). If they know you’re anxious, they can help make sure that you have plenty of time to answer the questions and prompt you if necessary.”

DO plan the basics

“This includes knowing exactly where you are going, what time you need to be there (allow plenty of extra time, to avoid a panic), and what you need to wear, take and prepare. Write it all down – this will help you think straight on the day and ensure that you turn up on time, unflustered and ready to give the interview your all. If you are unsure about anything, don’t guess. Just ask the person who arranged your interview.”

DO rehearse your answers

“You don’t want to sound like a parrot, but it’s smart to have an idea of how you’ll respond to basic questions the interviewer is likely to ask. In particular, be ready for questions about why you want the job, what skills you have that suggest you’ll be good at it. It can be helpful to practise with another person, so ask a teacher, parent, friend or careers advisor to pretend to be the interviewer. Knowing you’re prepared should help reduce your nerves on the day too.”

DON’T forget to smile

“Not only because you have lovely pearly gnashers – but because it will actually help you feel more relaxed and confident (seriously, try it!). Smiling takes less effort than grimacing or frowning, so you will have more energy to spend thinking about your answers.”

DO make your interviewer feel loved

“There’s no need to bring presents – but there are two things that are guaranteed to make your interviewer smile. First, do your research on the company and role you are applying to and show genuine enthusiasm for getting the job. Interviewers want to feel loved. After all, they work for the company – so they want everyone else to think it’s the best place to work ever too! Second, at the end of the interview, ask the interviewer about their work, why they like the company, why they like their role – this helps show a genuine interest too.”

DO be honest

“The reason all employers hold interviews is to get to know you better, so it’s important to be yourself. If we ask ‘What is your greatest achievement?’ tell us the truth – not what you think we want to hear! For questions like that, there is no right or wrong answer. What we’re looking for is a clear, well-structured response that shows us why you viewed it as your greatest achievement, what you did to achieve it and what you learnt from achieving it.”

DON’T be shy about asking for feedback

“If you are successful, that’s great news – but if you aren’t you can often feel like you never want to hear from the company again. Bite the bullet – it really is worth getting in touch. Not every company will provide feedback but many do, especially if you made it as far as the interview. It’s free, personalised advice, so make sure you claim it. This insight is gold – and could make the difference between making the same mistakes again or acing the next interview you have.”

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