What do Employers want in a Coop Student?
Employers need to know that you have the right skills and personal qualities to do the job successfully. They know what the placement entails and what kind of skills are required. A significant number of employers use the Coop Programme as a pipeline into graduate recruitment and therefore, they also want to be sure that you are interested in working with them. You need to point out to the employer what attracts you to their company, their products or services, and the sector they are operating in. This is where your research comes in.
What's the best way to prepare for an interview?
Coop employers understand that you probably don't have a lot of interview experience. They will, however, expect that you come prepared. The following preparation techniques will improve your chances of conducting a successful interview.
Researching the company
It may seem obvious, but one of the biggest complaints from employers is that candidates don't seem to know enough about the company or organisation. Almost all companies have websites, and employers will expect you to have looked at their site. If possible, meet with previous Coop students. Get into the habit of reading the business sections of newspapers to keep up-to-date with what is going on.
It would be impossible to prepare word for word answers to the typical questions an interviewer might ask. However, you should think about what the employer is likely to ask and why. Typical questions that come up time and time again include:
- Why do you want the job?
- Why do you think you are suitable for the position?
- What can you bring to the firm?
- What are you good at and what are you not so good at?
- Why did you choose to study your current course?
Other popular questions relate to skills or competencies and personal qualities. For example; "describe a time when you have worked with others in a team". This is likely to lead to:
- What was your role?
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What would you do differently next time?
- Describe a problem that you have had to solve
- How did you go about solving this?
- Why did you choose the solution that you did?
- Would you approach the problem the same way a second time?
The types of competency questions you may be asked depend on those the employer has identified as being important.
Looking the part
This may seem obvious, but first impressions count, so what you wear is important. Although Coop employers vary greatly in terms of dress code, you must attend interview in formal business attire.
You are likely to be nervous - it is possible that the interviewer will be nervous too! Most people have their own ways of handling nerves, but normally you can help control them by reminding yourself that you have done as much preparation as possible. Try the following:
- Check the directions and have a contingency plan.
- Give yourself plenty of time, not only to arrive, but also to find the building and the room.
- Practicing interview techniques will greatly reduce your nerves.
- Take a deep breath and relax!