The face-to-face interview is as mystified as it is essential. Although the graduate recruitment process has lots of other elements - online tests, telephone interviews and assessment days - they are all little more than preludes to the final challenge. As it's always been, if you want to be given a well-paid job, you need to convince someone face-to-face that you're worth hiring. Here's how to do it well.
1. Ask questions before
When you get invited to an interview, you'll hopefully be told who it will be with and roughly what it will cover. If not, ask, as nine times out of ten the company will be happy to tell you. Knowing the details in advance will help you plan, and remove some of the fear of the unknown.
2. Sleep well
While it might be tempting to spend the night before cramming or practising, the best thing you can do to prepare at that point is to get in a solid eight hours. Being bright and on the ball for the day itself is more important than any single fact or answer you'll be able to memorise in a night.
3. Set out early
Punctuality says a lot about you as a worker, so make sure you head off with so much time to spare that no realistic setback will make you late. And make sure you know exactly which office you're going to! If the unthinkable does happen and you're running behind time, phone ahead as soon as possible to let your interviewer know.
4. Appearance matters
You will be judged, at least partly, on how you dress. Sober and sensible businesswear will see you through, and it's always better to stay on the side of caution. Especially for jobs in the City, people still take how you dress very seriously.
5. Remember names
It can be hard if you're being interviewed by several people or if you're nervous, but it makes an excellent impression if you can take in who everyone is and what they do. While you'd probably be forgiven for a slip-up, you can gain a lot by not having to be told twice.
6. Don't fear the silences
When you're asked a question, answer it, then stop. It's the interviewer's job to move the conversation forward, and they will often pause on purpose. Knowing not to fill the empty spaces with chatter will show you have conviction in what you've said.
Although there are lots of other dynamics at play, interviews are ultimately just conversations. So feel free to seek clarification if you don't understand something. Take a moment to think, ask questions of your own and generally interact with other people like they're human beings.
8. Check the place out
Remember this isn't just a test for you. Going for interview is a great insight into life at the company. Do you like the commute? Do people in the building seem to be enjoying themselves? Is there bike storage? Is there a proper coffee machine? You should come away with a much better idea of whether it's somewhere you could see yourself working - if it seems appropriate you could even ask for a tour.
9. Believe in yourself
The fact that you've been invited to interview means you've already done something to impress - perhaps you've done several preliminary assessments to make it this far. Whatever's come before, the fact that they're taking the trouble to see you means they've seen potential in you, so use that as a confidence boost.
10. Try to have fun
Even though they can be stressful, interviews are a chance to talk with a professional about a career which excites you, and meet somebody who's had the experiences you'd like to have. That should be an enjoyable experience and, if you can see it as such, chances are you'll do very well.