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Insights How to prepare for an early careers interview

So, you made a successful application? Congratulations! You might now be wondering how to prepare for an interview.

It’s important to refresh your industry knowledge, and have answers prepared for different types of interview questions. To help you stand out from the crowd, we’ve put together some useful tips so you can focus on making a great impression: 

Image of a lady shaking hands

Show genuine interest

Early career applicants can lack extensive real-world experience due to their stage in professional development. Don’t worry, you can still strengthen your candidacy by preparing examples that highlight your suitability for the role and showing enthusiasm. Consider these scenarios:

Scenario 1:

If you’re studying civil engineering at university, for example, share your enthusiasm for learning the technical aspects of the role. 

  • Impact: This will show an interviewer you are genuinely interested in a career in civil engineering.

Scenario 2:

If you’re applying for a client-facing role and have worked in a supermarket alongside your studies, highlight how you built your communication skills through customer service and collaboration skills with teammates.

  • Impact: This will show an interviewer that you understand the role, its responsibilities and how to apply your skills when working with clients. 

How to show enthusiasm in an interview:

  • Prepare relevant questions for the interviewer about the company, the role and what the culture is like – asking questions will show you’re eager to learn more about the role
  • It’s natural to sound off-beat when nervous, so try to use more changes in tone of voice to avoid sounding flat and remember to pause and take a breath
  • Show visual signs that you’re engaged, like nodding 
  • If the interviewer mentions something you find interesting about the responsibilities, engage with them and tell them verbally. For example, “I’m really glad you mentioned that, it’s a big positive for me!” 

Research the organisation

An interviewer may question your understanding of what their organisation does, what their vision and values are, and why they are important. It’s important to thoroughly research the organisation you’ve applied to. 

Look beyond an organisation’s website. Social media is a great way to learn what an organisation has been focusing on recently. You could pick a recent feature and discuss your reflections in the interview. 

To really stand out, research the wider industry and impress the interviewer with some recent news or trends. 

If you’re applying for an early careers role at Atkins, follow some quick tips to get started:

Quick tips for researching Atkins:

  • Take the time to explore our careers site and our projects
  • Understand what’s important to us, like our manifesto for a sustainable future
  • Read our blogs to learn more about what we do and how we work 
  • Head to #InsideAtkins on Instagram for stories, Instagram takeovers and more to get a real insight into life at Atkins, as well as Facebook #InsideAtkins.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice answers out loud in the mirror to build your confidence but try not to memorise answers as it can come across as unnatural. 

Ask someone to run through potential interview questions with you. Your college or university is likely to have a careers service, so it’s worthwhile asking if they do mock interviews – make the most of this if they do!

Interviewers often have your CV in front of them, so make sure you’ve reviewed it and have examples of how you responded to certain situations in past experiences. 

A good method for answering questions in a structured way is using the STAR technique:

  • Present the situation
  • Explain what the task was
  • Describe what action you took 
  • Illustrate the result

Some questions can be tough so try to remain calm and if you aren’t sure, ask the interviewer to explain what they mean.

On the day

Tips for an in-person interview

While these tips are tailored to enhance your readiness for an in-person interview, they can also be largely applied to virtual interviews:

  • Start off by eating a healthy and energy-boosting breakfast 
  • Dress smartly or to the style of the company you are interviewing with
  • Arrive around five to 10 minutes early – long enough to settle in but not too long that the interviewer thinks you’ve got the time wrong 
  • Be polite and friendly to anyone you meet on the day – interviewers often ask their colleagues how candidates come across

Tips for a remote interview

At Atkins, our selection process for Apprenticeships, Placements, and our Graduate Development Programme (GDP), includes an online immersive assessment that incorporates a range of questions that you’ll be guided through, and a virtual interview. 

Follow these tips to help you feel your best at an online interview:

  • Check your WiFi signal beforehand, and prepare a backup plan in case it goes wrong, for example, you could hotspot from your phone
  • Make sure the room you will be in is quiet and remind anyone you live with that you’ll need time and space to avoid interruptions
  • Set yourself up in a room that is well-lit – natural daylight is ideal. Also check your face isn’t in shadow 
  • Ensure your background is tidy and not distracting
  • Approach it as if it were an in-person interview and be well-prepared 

Kickstart your career at Atkins

At Atkins, we’re looking for the brightest young minds. If you’re fresh out of school, college or you’ve graduated from university, join us to build a career where you can make a difference. You could help to engineer a better future for our planet and its people.

Browse our Graduate Scheme, Apprenticeship and Placement opportunities. Join our Talent Community to stay connected with the latest news, early careers information and to be notified when applications are open.

You can also register on our Connectr platform to connect directly with early careers mentors.