Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: interviews

Battling nerves before an interview

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Interviews, Tips & Hints

nervous

It is natural to feel nervous in front of an interview, but sometimes it can all feel a bit too much. Here are some tips that I follow and that I hope can help you battle those nerves.

Preparation

This is an obvious one but the more you prepare, the better you will feel on the day. Make sure you read the personal criteria or person specification for the job and practise answering questions about the competencies listed. Read through our leaflet for advice on different type of interviews and how to best answer questions.

Brainstorm examples to use, write them down and then practise answering them out loud. Practise with a friend, with your careers adviser or use our Interview Stream software.

In addition, research the company and employer and come up with good reasons why you want to work there.

Be healthy

Get a good night’s sleep! Stay in the night before, watching a feel good movie so you go to sleep with a smile on your face. Being up all night doing last minute cramming won’t look good on your skin and lack of sleep may make you forget all the important points you remembered during the night. Avoid too much caffeine and make sure you eat a good breakfast.

Arrive early

Don’t get extra stressed because a train gets cancelled or a bus does not turn up. Arrive early and instead go for a walk around the area or sit at a café. Getting unduly stressed because of circumstances outside your control won’t help your nerves!

Breathing exercises

If you are feeling your nerves and anxiety are going out of control, try breathing exercises. These can be done in the morning at home, on the train, in the bathroom before you head in for the interview. They work for me, I hope they can work for you. NHS tells you how. Getting into the practice of meditation may also help.

Warm up your voice and body

I feel doing some exercise of the voice and body prepares the whole you for the interview ahead, this has worked for me several times. I have even written another blog post about it. Try it out and see if it works for you!

Be yourself

Don’t try and be someone you are not. Acting or talking like another person won’t be good for your nerves or your confidence. The employer is interested in who you are, not just the skills or the degree you have, show your personal energy and enthusiasm.

If none of this works and you need extra support....

Go and see a Careers Adviser to talk about strategies in how to deal with confidence or nerves during an interview. Together we can look at your experiences and skills to date and support you in articulating them well, giving  you more confidence in your skills and abilities. We also have a lot additional resources for you to read through.

If there are other reasons for why you are feeling anxious or you are feeling low on self-esteem, please go and see the Well-being team. Talk through what is going on in your life that are making you anxious.

We are here to support you!

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality – coming to your assessment centre soon?

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📥  Advice, Applications, Graduate Jobs, Interviews, Tips & Hints

virtual

I remember when I first put on those Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, it blew me away! Just to clarify, I am not a gamer at all, the closest I have come to playing a game has been playing free games on my phone! I am, however, a massive sci-fi fan so the idea of being immersed into a virtual universe did appeal to me. Maybe it was this interest that made the journey into the VR universe so natural for me. Saying that, recent research states that 95% of people trying out VR say the same. It seems so real that you automatically act the way you would have done in the real world. Maybe this fact is why employers now are researching using VR in recruitment processes and at least one employer is already using it in some assessment centres. So what do you, as students, need to know?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment (taken from wikipedia).

virtual reality

 

For Virtual Reality to work you put on a headset which covers your eyes and ears completely, you are unable to see or hear the outside world. You only see the simulated environment in front of you. With the help of handsets you are able to move around the environment and complete tasks. You have a small space to move around in and the software prevents you from walking too far outside the zone (don’t worry, the likelihood of crashing into walls is low). It is currently mainly used for gaming as it gives the user the feeling of being fully immersed in the game.

Why are more and more employers researching the use of VR in recruitment processes?

Employers would like to be able assess a candidate’s authentic capabilities in doing the job. Compared to competency-based questions, where a candidate can prepare answers which not necessarily are all authentic, the VR environment is unexpected and can’t be prepared for. As research shows that the large majority of people trying out VR acts like they would do in real life, this means that employers can easier match the candidate skills and strengths with the job in question.

Employers are also researching using VR as a way for applicants to get a real feel for a company, how it is to work there, which goes beyond just looking at the website or the interview setting.  Companies would like to show their prospective employees how great it is to work there and VR may help with just that. VR can introduce you to the office, you may get a tour of the building,  meet your co-workers, be introduced to job tasks and real-life business scenarios. You may even be invited to an after work social event through VR! In an article Deutsche Bahn states they use VR to give potential employees the chance to “experience” different jobs on offer before they apply, for example looking over the shoulder of an electrician or a train driver.

It is already in use!

As stated above, several companies are using VR as a way of introducing their companies to potential applicants. In addition, VR in recruitment is already in use by at least one graduate recruiter, which started using VR in their assessment centre selection for their IT and digital graduate schemes in autumn 2017.

They says this on their website:

“By using Virtual Reality the assessor will be able to present situations to candidates that would otherwise be unfeasible in the conventional assessment process. The candidate will have complete freedom of movement within a 360 degree virtual world and will be able to move virtual objects using tracked motion controls. Although the Group cannot disclose what potential graduates can expect to do in the assessment centre, so as to not provide candidates with an advantage, the puzzles they will be tasked with will be designed to demonstrate the strengths and capabilities required of the Group’s future leaders.”

In addition, other companies are considering using VR in their recruitment to better assess candidates’ strengths and cognitive abilities. Although we do not know whether VR will be used by other companies, its popularity is increasing and therefore more may follow..

How can you prepare for VR?

I think it would be hard to prepare for a VR assessment. The employer won’t assume you have used it before, so you should get good instructions in how to use it before you start your tasks. As the employer would like to find a candidate that matches the skills and strengths they are looking for, I believe the best preparation is to be yourself and complete the tasks as you would do naturally. If you have a friend that has VR at home, then you can always ask them for a go, although be aware that the tasks set in the assessment centre probably will be different from VR gaming.

Be open and enthusiastic about it on the day, be yourself and enjoy the experience!

Additional articles for you to explore:

University of Warwick has written an excellent blog article about Virtual Reality.

Two other interesting articles:

https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/rework/latest-recruiting-tool-virtual-reality

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/vr-interviews-lloyds-banking

 

 

My story: working internationally - broadening your horizons

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Uncategorized

Broadening your horizons – working internationally

international horizons

Working abroad can be an incredible experience. I have worked in three different countries; USA, UK and Norway (I am Norwegian) and I have volunteered teaching English in China and Argentina. I have had some amazing experiences which I don’t want to change for the world, but at the same time it is important to be prepared and realise that applying for jobs and working abroad may bring its own issues as well. This is my personal story on how working internationally has changed me, broadened my horizons and made me who I am today, but I will also share some important lessons as well.

 

Thinking about working internationally?

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You want to work overseas and have a real wish to explore the world? Then go for it! However, do consider any language, visa or work permit requirements of the country you are going to. Finding a job in Argentina without speaking Spanish will limit the job opportunities straight away. In addition, if you would like to work in Norway you are pretty much limited to bar and café work if you do not speak Norwegian. You may also have visa limitations. After going to University in the US, I had a year’s work permit, which I was sure I could extend. I was six months in to a job I loved, with colleagues I loved in a city I loved (Seattle), when I found out that the work permit could not be extended. I did not have a job that fit the visa requirements and had to leave the country within the next 4 weeks, saying goodbye to everyone in the process. My lesson to you is therefore to research as much as possible before you go!

 

Applying for jobs internationally?

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Be aware that applying for jobs and selection processes may be slightly different depending on which country you are looking to work in. After 15 years in the UK I moved back to Norway in 2014. Networking and who you know is very important with regards to applying for jobs in Norway and as I had not kept many social networks, I discovered that in the interview process many of the interview attendees already worked for the company or knew someone in the company. In addition, the interview questions were personality-based (similar to strength-based), as they did not care too much about your skills or experience but instead they wanted to figure out whether you, as a person, would fit in the company. The whole interview normally just turned into an informal chat. Being used to competency-based questions from the UK I must say it took a couple of interviews to adapt! Researching how different countries have different selection processes and also what websites to look at to find work, is therefore important.

We have some excellent links and resources on our website, also Prospects and TargetJobs have wonderful resources and country guides for you to look through,

 

Working internationally

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So you have researched where you want to go and have successfully applied for a job overseas. Well done, your year(s) ahead may be full of new adventures, new friendships, perhaps learning a new language and, of course, a new job. In my last job in the US I worked at a US-Asian NGO and I learnt so much in few months I was there (before my visa expired) and met some amazing people from the US as well as many Asian countries. In some ways it laid the basis for the person I am today, I learnt to work with people from different cultures and with different ways of communicating and working. For example, any decision whether small or large always had to be made together, so I attended lots and lots of meetings in this job with people from all levels of seniority. In addition, I learnt the importance of company health insurance in the US and the very limited number of holiday days you get! In Norway, on the other hand, I learnt that in addition to your normal sick days, as a mother (or father) you get additional sick days for your child. You learn quickly that there are different ways of working, of communicating or solving issues. These are just some of the charms of working abroad and will really benefit you in any jobs and teams in the future.

Apart from the job, you now have the opportunity to explore the city and the country you are in. Be a tourist, be a local, try new food, connect with people, learn new customs, find new activities, explore your new life! I still think that some of the best seafood I have ever had is from Seattle harbourside, the best food overall is from China, I have visited old castles and palaces, volcanoes and mountain ranges, learnt that I actually do like walking in nature and have met some wonderful people along the way.

 

After working internationally

ADAPT2

So, you have decided to come home again from working overseas.  I have learnt a lot from working abroad, but it is my ability to adapt to different circumstances and different people which I value the most. You learn different ways of working, different ways of applying for jobs and you get to know a different country, often getting to know the country “the local way” if you stay long enough. In addition, I have learnt a lot about myself in the process, increasing my self-confidence and awareness of myself and other people, whatever area of the world they are from.

Employers in the UK really look positively on people with international experience, as they bring back valuable skills, a creative outlook, different experiences, networks and the ability to adapt to any situation and communicate to people from a variety of backgrounds.  Maybe you can find a job in an international company that can take advantage of your expertise in a specific country? I have found that my international experience has interested employers, it is usually a topic of conversation in interviews and I have gained employment at least in some part owing to my experience overseas. Therefore, if you feel up to the challenge and think you will truly enjoy and thrive living in a different country, then go for it! It will be an adventure of a lifetime and you will change as a person.

Want to get to know other people who have worked abroad? Have a look at our international case studies.

So what happened to me?

I still work “overseas” as I have found my second home here in the UK, learning to live life “the local way”.  Now I can’t imagine to be anywhere else. I have lived here for nearly 16 years in total. So be aware that “a few years working abroad” may turn into a lifetime........

 

 

 

Exercise tips for your interview!

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📥  Interviews, Tips & Hints

Exercise tips for your interview!

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A few years ago I attended a staff development course on Presentation Skills and one of the important points my presenter made was how to warm up body and voice before using them. Most professional presenters warm up their body and voice before every presentation! The presenter mentioned the benefits of doing so also for interviews, and since then I have had a 3-5 minute warm up routine before every presentation and interview. It has worked wonders for the projection and resonance of my voice and preparing the body has increased my adrenalin on the day and physical movement. I feel much more alive and animated! But lastly, it has improved my confidence as I feel much more prepared both mentally and physically and as I always laugh at myself doing the different (and sometimes silly) exercises, I always come out of it with a smile.

I feel the best time to do these exercises are in the morning or, if necessary, I try and do them in the nearby Ladies before the start of presentation/interview. Do improvise!

So here are my exercise tips to fully prepare for an interview:

Body (in no particular order):

If you are suffering from any health issues, please consult your doctor before attempting these exercises.

Even if you do not have a presentation in your interview process, warming up your body still is beneficial for overall physical movement and feel.

  • The shoulder roll – roll your shoulders backwards slowly x 5
  • The body stretch – reach your arms above your head and really stretch your body, feel that tension and those knotted muscles loosening up.
  • The neck turn – turn your neck (very carefully) to the left and to the right x 5
  • The body shake – shake your body, jump up and down if you can, and look in the mirror and smile!
  • Pick your own stretch or dance exercise that you feel help loosening up your body

Voice (in no particular order):

If you are not in a private room, warming up your voice may be difficult. If I do not have a private room, I sometimes do these exercises whilst walking down a trafficked street (no one can hear you anyways!).

  • The tongue turn – stick out your tongue, move it left to right, up and down (this is also fun to do in front of the mirror)
  • Sing a song / do scales – sing a short song or chorus or just la la la, but go up one note every time you sing it. I usually do “row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”
  • The choir voice roll – if you have ever sung in a choir, you will know this one. Start with the highest tone ("mmm" or "jaaa" are two good options) you can possibly do and move your voice gently downwards. Repeat this a few times.
  • Rolling your Rs – If you are able to, making a constant R sounds for a short period of time does wonders to your voice and resonance!

There are some good websites out there describing additional exercises, I have picked some I thought were good:

Warming up your voice:

http://www.wikihow.com/Warm-up-Your-Voice

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sing/learning/warmingup.shtml

Face stretches: http://actingforscientists.com/public-speaking-warm-up/

 

Now dance and sing your way to the interview. The best of luck!!

 

 

Understanding interview anxiety

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

Despite of advising students for over 10 years, I still find myself riddled with anxiety when I attend an interview. There’s something about being in the spotlight; that one chance of either securing the job or being rejected, that is guaranteed to bring me out in a sweat. I recently stumbled upon this this article from The Muse  which made me reflect on why do we all fear interviews so much?  When I ask students, what worries them about interviews the most, these three consistently make it on top of the list:

  • Mind going blank
  • Not being able to think of an example
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over
Image result for job interview gif

So what is the solution? Well to a large extent it is about practice and self-reflection. Interviews are a solitary activity and most of us would rather not ask for feedback or reflect on our performance. However a sure way of improving your interview technique is to get objective feedback. One way is to book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser or to use InterviewStream which enables you to record your interview and review your performance.

That aside, what is the solution for the three biggest fears?

  • Mind going blank: you can’t stop your brain freezing, however you can control how you respond if this happens. My top tip is to acknowledge what’s just happened, and start again. Or you may wish to ask the recruiter to repeat or clarify the question buying you precious time.
  • Not being able to think of an example: another form of brain freeze! Again, it is all about composing yourself. Feel free to ask the employer for a few minutes to think about the question. If inspiration doesn’t strike, then consider answering hypothetically… “Although, I haven’t experienced such a situation, if I did this is how I would tackle it…”
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over: I think this article from the Guardian offer excellent tips on how to tackle anxiety before and during the interview. I would add that it is OK to be open about being nervous, it makes you human and the interviewer will relate to you better.

Finally and most importantly, interview anxiety can get out of hand if you build the interview up in your mind to a point where you start to loose perspective. Take a moment to consider: this isn’t the only job out there. They wouldn’t be interviewing you if they thought you lacked potential for the position. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: ‘I could get the job’ rather than ‘I might not get the job’.

 

The dreaded "Do you have any questions for us?" moment in an interview!

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

It can be all too easy to get towards the end of a job interview and not ask any questions. Because, let's face it, all you probably want to know is 'have I got the job?' and 'how much will it pay?' But the questions you ask your prospective employer are just as important as the answers you give during an interview.

questionsforus

Although job interviews often feel like an interrogation, they're meant to be a conversation between you and a potential employer. Asking the right questions during a job interview can not only help you build a dialogue, but it can also help you evaluate if the job is right for you.

So, lets start with questions you shouldn't ask during an interview:

  • How much will you pay / what is the benefits package / how much holiday will I get / what are my work hours?*
  • What happened to the last person who did this job?
  • Can you explain what your business does?
  • When can I start using the company discount?

The reason for avoiding these questions during an interview is that you want to use the opportunity, to demonstrate your drive to excel in the role and the fact that you've done some homework (researched the company, industry and department). You want to leave the employer with a positive and memorable impression of you as a potential candidate.

A general rule is that you should ask no more than two questions (the employer may have other candidates they are interviewing and you don't want to hijack their time). The best questions are open ended and don't ask for information that can easily be found on the organisations website. Avoid negative or aggressive questions, you want to focus on building a rapport with the interviewer.

Examples of good questions to ask during an interview:

  • Can you tell me how the role relates to the overall structure of the organisation? with this question you're drawing attention to a preference for teamwork. It looks as though you want to know where you would fit in and how your contribution would affect the rest of the company.
  • How would you describe the work culture here? this signals that you want to operate at your optimum and understand that for this you require a positive environment. This indicates you're a good self-manager who is aware of how to get the best out of yourself.
  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role? this question can often lead to valuable information that’s not in the job description. It can help you learn about the company culture and expectations so you can show that you are a good fit.
  • In what way is performance measured and reviewed? this question flags up that you appreciate the importance of delivering real results. You will be seen as someone who understands the value of commitment, reliability and returns.
  • What are the most important issues that you think your business is currently facing? or I have noticed, you recently introduced a new product/service/division/project; how will this benefit the business? these variations both show that you are interested in the job and employer behind it too. It also shows you have researched the organisation which demonstrates motivation.

If you decide you genuinely have no questions to ask, then turn this into an opportunity by saying, "at this stage I haven't got any questions. This is because I spent time looking through your website and read up on current projects. I also spoke to Mr. Smith at the Bath careers fair, who talked to me about the organisation culture and business priorities such as x. Therefore, at this stage I don't have any questions".

* Remember you can still clarify hours of work, salary and holidays by having a separate conversation with representatives from the organisations HR department after your interview.

We hope you've enjoyed our Interviews series, nothing beats preparation. So, if you have an interview coming up please do book a practice interview with one of our careers advisers.

 

 

How to handle tricky interview questions!

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📥  Advice, Internships, Tips & Hints

OK, confession time! A long time ago, when I went for my first interview for a graduate scheme at a leading advertising agency - right at the end the interviewer asked me, "so, if you could be a vegetable; what sort of vegetable would you be?". I was totally thrown by this curve ball of a questions and mumbled, "a cabbage". Truth is, I don't like cabbages... (no offence to all you cabbage lovers!)

'You will find that my greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses...'

'You will find that my greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses...'

Then there is the inevitable "what are your strengths and weaknesses?" question or the "where do you see yourself in 5 years time". With the best preparation in the world, it'll happen. The employer will ask you a question that you just hadn't planned for or expected. TargetJobs have put together an excellent list of the common tricky questions and have shared strategies on how to answer them. Really worth a read!

In my mind, the employer isn't always interested in 'what' you say but rather 'how' you handle the situation.  How you cope with curve balls they throw your way is a strong indicator of your ability to work under pressure, remain calm and problem solve. So next time you are caught off guard in an interview, take a deep breath - smile and ask the employer to give you a few minutes to think. This approach conveys bags and bags of self-confidence.

That said, when it comes to interviews, there are certain questions that crop up time and time again. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that. Yes, it’s a well-trodden adage and it might even sound worn, but if you want to wing it at a job interview then, well, you’re on your own. Below are the five most common interview questions and ones that we have found students and graduates find most challenging.

  1. Tell me about yourself: this is a tricky one, so much so that we have written a dedicated blog post about this.
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Structure-wise, this is easy. Use your common sense and focus on sharing more strengths than weaknesses. Make sure the strengths you choose are a match to those required by the employer / role. When it comes to weaknesses avoid 'perfectionism' - we've all heard it before and points to lack of authenticity. Instead, check out the excellent advice from Warwick Careers on how to answer this most common question.
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years time? another infamous interview question, yet it's difficult to answer without resorting to dreaded cliches like "I just want to be doing something I enjoy", or "I want to be at the top of my game". The advice from the Guardian totally nails how to answer this question and is very much worth a read.
  4. If you were a vegetable, what sort of vegetable would you be? these sorts of questions are testing to see how well you react. Some great advice by  Darren Kaltved; if only I had read this piece years ago.
  5. Do you have any questions for us? just as you think, the end is near the interviewer now puts the ball in your court and expects you to ask questions. In my mind, this is an opportunity for you to shine even brighter. Ask questions that convey motivation and help you build a rapport with the interviewer. Check in tomorrow for our final blog post in the interviews series, where we will share with you do's and dont's and crucially provide examples of good questions to ask.

Don't forget: practice makes perfect, so do book an interview with one of our careers advisers!

 

"Describe a time when you communicated effectively in a difficult situation?” Tips to answer competency questions

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

Competency based questions are those that require you to answer with one particular example, such as:

  • Please give an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership capability.
  • Tell us of a time when you actively contributed to the success of a team.
  • Describe a time when you communicated effectively in a difficult situation?

The “competency” in competency based questions refers to a skill or personal attribute that an employer wishes to have (indicated in italics above). Most employers will provide information about the competencies they look for in the job advert or person specification. This makes it easy for you to consider and prepare relevant answers in advance.

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Below are two examples of answers to the question “Describe a time when you communicated effectively in a difficult situation?”. Which candidate would you score higher?

Candidate A

During my summer holidays, I needed to earn extra money to fund my studies. I took a role at JKN holidays. The company runs a leading seaside resort with a range of activities on offer such as water skiing and snorkeling. It was recently awarded Best UK resort in the South West. We regularly had bucket loads of people from across the world visiting us that we needed to deal with. Many didn’t speak English which was really difficult. When this happened, I would always do my best to communicate clearly with them. Having worked with people from around the world on a regular basis, I was used to the issues and difficulties that arose. In these situation, I think it is important to speak slowly.

Candidate B

While working as a holiday rep at JKN holidays, we received 80 overseas visitors during one of my shifts. I had to communicate the sign-in process and had to allocate rooms. My first action was to find the tour leader and I established she spoke a little English. She agreed to translate. I stood on a box so that the whole group could see me. I smiled and made eye contact with everyone and ensured my language was simple and clear. I also paused to enable the tour leader to translate. I used props to aid understanding. For example, I indicated where the visitors should sign forms by holding up the form and pointing. I also showed the visitors how the locker keys system worked through a practical demonstration. As a result of my flexibility and effective communication, all our visitors completed the sign in procedure and were allocated rooms within our normal sign in target time.

How to answer competency based questions

STAR is a useful technique for answering competency based questions. It guides you step-by-step helping you to provide well-structured answers.

  • Situation: Briefly set the scene. What context do they need to know in order to understand the rest of your answer. Keep it short, no more than 10% of your answer.
  • Task: describe briefly what you had to do, roughly 10% of your answer.
  • Action: what you did and how you did it. Your answer should focus specifically on how you demonstrated the competency they asked about. The action is what helps the recruiter understand what you can do for them. So make this around 70% of your answer.
  • Result: a positive result shows that you used the skill or attribute successfully. What happened, changed or got better as a result. Make this around 10% of your answer.

Some employers are moving away from competency questions and are adopting strength based interviews. So do make sure you are clear on the interviewing style adopted by your future employer.

Do check in tomorrow when we will share tips on how to answer Brain Teaser questions and also how to handle tricky questions such as what are your weaknesses. Don't forget to book a practice interview with our careers adviser!

 

How to answer the 'Why do you want to work for us' interview question.

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

Motivation questions explore your enthusiasm for the role, company and the sector. Interviews are expensive business and the employer wants to make sure they offer the placement or graduate job to the best and most suitable candidate.

'So. . .why do you want to work for us?'

'So. . .why do you want to work for us?'

Typical motivation questions include:

Role

  • What made you apply for this role?
  • What do you think are the day-to-day priorities of this role?
  • How does this opportunity fit with your long-term career plans?

Company

  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • Who do you think are our main competitors and how are we different to them?
  • What do you know about our business culture and how does this align with you as an individual?

Sector

  • What are the key issues facing our sector?
  • Can you tell me about a recent business story that is related to our sector, why did this interest you? What impact will it have on our business?
  • What political factors are having an impact on our business sector?

Below are two examples of answers to the question “Why are you interested in working for us?”. If you were the interviewer for P&G which candidate would you score higher?

Candidate A

“Your organisation is an award-winning leader in its field, employing 7,000 people globally.  It has an international reputation and is also one of the most respected companies in the UK.  It is important for me to work for a successful organisation and I would welcome all the different opportunities available to me.  I would also like to work abroad at some point and so the global nature of your organisation appeals to me.  Finally, I’d like to work for the organisation because the role matches my skills, particularly my communication and teamwork skills.   I am a creative person and I am also interested in developing new skills, and believe that this placement scheme would help me to achieve my goals”

Candidate B

I have researched P&G’s product portfolio and am extremely excited by the thought of working for prestigious brands such as Olay, Gillette and Wella. I have been following your recent campaign for Olay with a great deal of interest.  I was particularly attracted to the mother and daughter link in the campaign which indicated that the brand has something to offer a woman at all stages of her life.

I also believe my skills are a strong match for the position of Account Manager.  I have recently been involved with the innovative re-branding strategy of the student union at Bath, where I worked with senior managers in the university, undertook focus groups and collaborated with our design agency.  After examining your website and attending your presentation at Bath, I understand the value of good organisational skills in order to manage a portfolio of brands.  My organisation skills have greatly improved throughout my first year and I have consistently delivered coursework ahead of the deadlines.

Finally I have also been impressed by the honesty and enthusiasm of recently recruited trainees of the organisation I met at this year’s Careers Fair especially Maurice Edwards who spoke very highly of the creative culture at P&G.

How to answer Motivation Questions.

  1. Research the company – read their annual report, explore their website and search for any media reports and analyses on the company. Tools such as Nexis are excellent as they bring together current news in an easy to search format.
  2. Similarly research at least one competitor; compare and contrast the two businesses – what makes them different, what are their values and the organisation culture. Start by looking at the information on MarketLine.
  3.  Structure your answer – imagine you are conveying three key bullet points to the interviewer. Make your motivation personal, in particular look at the companies business culture and their values.

Top Tip: if you are a Bath student, you can access MarketLine and Nexis via the library. Do check in tomorrow for our advice on answering competancy based questions and don't forget to book a 1:1 practice interview with our careers team.

 

How to answer 'Tell me about yourself' interview question!

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

You are bound to have an interview as part of your placement or graduate job search, interviews come in all shapes and sizes – from an informal chat over a coffee to pre-designed questions seeking to uncover strengths, competencies and motivations. The word on the street is, 1 in 4 interview questions is predictable; with typical interview questions falling into the following categories:

  • Biographical
  • Motivation
  • Competency
  • Brain Teasers /Technical

This week, we are going to share with you our top tips and advice to answer typical interview questions starting with Biographical questions. These types of questions are also called ‘un-structured’ questions and they typically come up at the start of an interview. Most employers don’t have a specific aim in mind, other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. Questions are fairly open ended, such as:

·         Tell me about yourself?

·         Tell me about your education to date?

·          What can you offer our company?

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Below are two examples of answers to the question “Tell me about yourself”. If you were the interviewer, which candidate's answer would you score better?

Candidate A

“I am a 2nd year student at Bath, I have 10 GCSE’s and four A-Levels. I did Maths where I got an A*, Biology where I got an A, Chemistry where I got a B and Computer Science where I got an A. I decided to study Computer Science at Bath and I am really enjoying it. I have had good grades for my modules and I also work part time in Fresh. I think this placement is really interesting so, yeah here I am”

Candidate B

“I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at Bath. I have an excellent academic record and am averaging 70% in my first year. I have a good grounding in the theory and practice of programming and am currently working on a group project to design an interactive App. I have excellent Java and C skills and have taught myself Python in my spare time. Outside of lectures, I work in Fresh which is an on-campus supermarket, it is a busy and fast paced environment. I have developed my confidence in dealing with a wide range of customers. This placement sounds really interesting, and I would love the opportunity to work with other programmers and to learn from their experience. I noticed that there is an opportunity to write code in Java which I am really interested in”

How to answer Biographical Questions.

1.       Impose a structure, treat the question like an essay so ensure you have a beginning, middle and an end.

2.       Select information, experience and skills from your CV that are most relevant to the job.

3.       Biographical questions are all about making the right first impression! So make sure you are smiling, sitting straight and are making good eye contact.

Check in tomorrow for our tips on how to answer Motivation Questions. And remember, we can help in careers by offering you a practice interview.