Spotlight on...Interview advice

Luke Hawkridge

‘Don’t be disheartened if you’re not successful,’ is the interview advice Luke Hawkridge (LLB Law, 2009) would offer his fellow alumni.

Luke learnt from his experiences to secure a graduate role at Barclays, where he works as a Compliance Analyst.

A two-day residential assessment centre for an in-house legal role at BT was the turning point in Luke’s graduate job search. He was very disappointed when he was not selected as one of the three successful candidates out of 12 attendees.  

At the time Luke, who studied a Master’s in Law at Nottingham after graduating from Birmingham, was working in an entry level position for Barclays. When a graduate level role in the bank’s compliance team came up, he went into the interview feeling confident and comfortable.

‘The BT assessment centre was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it was like being in The Apprentice, but the recruitment team gave me a review afterwards and definitely picked up things that helped me when I went for the role with Barclays,’ he says.

‘Without that I never would have been on the path I am now and this has been the best thing I could have done.’

Luke’s role at Barclays involves helping the bank to identify and manage regulatory risk, whilst still providing the best experience for customers.

He says Barclays uses a strength-based interview approach applied to specific roles (ie candidates being asked to give examples from their own experience), to encourage interviewees to answer as naturally as possible.

He has the following top five tips for final students and graduates going into the interview process:

1. Use examples - examples are the best way to differentiate yourself from other applicants and enable you to talk about your achievements. Use your CV as a checklist and make sure you mention a broad range of examples across university, work experience and extra-curricular activities. 

2. Be concise– use the STAR technique (situation, task, action, result) or a similar method to ensure that you answer the question and also structure your answer in a clear and coherent way.

3. Show enthusiasm – enthusiasm is the easiest way to demonstrate motivation for applying for roles and can help to hide nerves.

4. Do your research– read the employer’s website, keep up to date with the news and try to find out as much as you can about the role you are applying for, the employer and the wider industry (e.g. banking regulation). This not only shows you are committed to applying, it also emphasises your interest in the employer.

5. Ask questions– an interview is an excellent opportunity to find out information that is not available on the employer’s website. If you have a specific question relating to the role you have applied for, the interview is the best chance to find out. It also shows you’ve really thought about a career in this area and can help you to make a great first impression!