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1 Interviews With thanks to Rackspace Hosting for the sponsorship of this guide

2 Be enthusiastic but don t go over the top. Listen to the questions being asked; ask for time if you need to think your answer through before responding; ask for clarification if you don t understand the question Be positive about your actions throughout your response and do not make up an example as you will NOT come across as believable. Interviews When you are invited to an interview, you have already impressed the employer. They consider you a credible candidate and on paper you have the skills required to work in the role, now is your chance to prove it! Take confidence from the fact that the majority of applicants have been rejected and you were among the minority to be selected for an interview. The company really wants to find the right candidate amongst the few that have been selected for interview, so you are in an extremely positive position. An interview is your opportunity to build on the good impression you have made on paper and prove you are the best candidate for the job. The company will be interested in you and they want to find out more about your qualifications, skills and personality. You will be assessed based on your skills and ability to work successfully in the role you have applied for. You should refer back to the job description and your initial application to see how the skills required match your abilities. Although you cannot predict everything you will be asked about; there are a lot of questions you can prepare for and you will be expected to have thought about these. If you do not understand what the employer does or cannot explain why you are interested in the opportunity, you are unlikely to impress them enough with your skills, interests and experience to secure the role. The Placement and Careers Centre (PCC) is full of resources to help you prepare for this challenge and experienced professionals are on-hand to guide you through the full process. Follow the guidelines in this pack to increase your chances of success. To view this booklet in a larger print size, please go to our website: services/pcc/students/ interviews-andassessment-centres/ interview-skills Preparation It is impossible to predict exactly what questions you will be asked but there are some key areas you can focus on when preparing for your interview. You have already marketed yourself to the employer on paper. Re-read your application form, CV and covering letter in preparation for the interview. Assume that the interviewer will focus some questions on what you have written. Plan to talk about your strengths and weaknesses and think about how they might link to the working situation you are applying to, draw on your past experience to illustrate points. Prepare some examples drawn from your experience, education or outside interests that demonstrate that you have the skills and abilities (competencies) to do the job applied for. 2 Interviews 2 CVs and Applications

3 CVs and Interviews Applications Think about the kind of questions that you will ask the interviewer. You could ask about the induction process, training opportunities or the culture of the organisation. Put yourself in the recruiter s shoes and think what you d ask a similar applicant for the role Practice your answers out loud with a friend or in the mirror so that you feel more confident when it comes to the real thing. Book a mock interview with your Placement Officer or Careers Consultant. Think about body language non verbal behaviour plays a big part in interviews. Aim for an open and positive posture, good eye contact with the interviewer(s) (without staring!) and not too many distracting mannerisms and gestures. First impressions count make a positive impact by smiling and introducing yourself confidently and dress appropriately and formally, yes, that means a tie boys and business attire for the girls, no jeans! Clean shoes and an overall smart look will help create the overall good first impression. Contact the employer in advance to arrange any special requirements that you will need on the day (for example, a sign language interpreter if you have a hearing impairment). If you haven t already mentioned a disability or specific learning difficulty and you know this will come up in the interview you may also want to prepare the employer in advance to ensure the interviewer feels comfortable and isn t put on the spot with something they may not have had much experience of in recruitment. Anticipate the challenges your disability or specific learning difficulty may present and think about how these can be overcome. You know your disability better than anyone and if you can explain it in positive and clear terms you stand a better chance of coming across as confidently and in control as you wish. The same applies to any reasonable adjustments the employer can make to ensure you are able to do the job, highlighting any financial assistance available to cover any costs. On the day of the interview plan arrive in good time to gather your thoughts and relax. Make a good first impression. Be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet from the company, from the receptionist who greets you on arrival to the interviewing panel remember that the assessment starts as soon as you walk in the main entrance. Be enthusiastic but don t go over the top. Listen to the questions being asked; ask for time if you need to think your answer through before responding; ask for clarification if you don t understand the question. Types of interviews Informal interviews are often used as the first part of a multi-stage recruitment process. For less senior jobs this may be the only selection method used. The format tends to be a general chat about you and your interests. Be aware that it is still an assessment of you. Competency/criteria-based interviews these are structured to reflect the competencies or qualities required by the job. The interviewers are looking for evidence of your skills and abilities and expect you to support your answers with examples of your experience from your life to date. Technical interviews if you have applied for a job that requires technical knowledge, it is likely that you will be asked technical questions or have a separate technical interview. Questions may focus on university projects or on real or hypothetical technical problems. Don t worry if you don t know the exact answer interviewers are interested in your thought process and logic. Portfolio-based interviews if the role is within the creative, media or communications sectors, you may be asked to bring a portfolio of your work to the interview and to have an in-depth discussion about the pieces you have chosen to include. Case study interviews in these you may be presented with a hypothetical or real business problem. You will be evaluated on your analysis of the problem, how you identify the key issues, how you pursue a particular line of thinking and how you organise your thoughts. Placement and Careers Centre 3 Placement and Careers Centre 3

4 Specific types of interview Some recruiters use a single interview to decide whether to hire you. Many will use a sequence of interviews to inform their decision. In sequential interviews you will be interviewed by a number of different interviewers or panels in turn. You may find that the questions asked get more difficult each time. Answer every question fully even if you feel you have been asked it previously. Telephone interviews telephone interviews are increasingly used by companies as part of the recruitment process, often at an early stage of selection, especially by overseas recruiters. Prepare in the same way that you would for a face-to-face interview. Make sure you choose a suitable time and date, in a location where you will be free to chat in a quiet place without any interruptions. Make sure your mobile is charged if you are using it. Remember to keep any necessary documents, like your CV and the job advert, to hand throughout the phone call. Face-to-face interviews this is the most common method. One interviewer, two or a panel of interviewers will conduct the interview. Panel interviews generally contain a spread of gender and expertise and are often chaired by the person to whom you will report, should you get the job. Group interviews several candidates are present and will be asked questions in turn by two or more interviewers. A group discussion around a specific topic may be encouraged and you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates and/or to the panel. Example of typical interview questions: Why did you choose to study your particular degree subject? This is a question that you should be prepared to answer as they are looking to see what has influenced your choices and your career direction. Try to relate your answer to the position you are being interviewed for. For example, the things that attracted you to your course could be the same things that are attracting you to this position. However, if your career ambition has changed since you came to university, be prepared to explain your thought process. Tell me about yourself? (Or) How would you describe yourself? At first glance this seems to be a straight-forward question just asking you to speak about yourself. However, it may not be clear what in particular they are looking for you to speak about (e.g. career to date, what you are looking to do, personal information). If in any doubt, ask them to clarify what they wish you to talk about. What are your strengths/ weaknesses? Strengths should be easy enough to think about (keep the position in mind). Weaknesses can be more difficult but you should try to think of something that perhaps you have recognised as being a weakness but have worked to overcome. For example, you are not a particularly confident public speaker but during your course you have given various presentations and have put a lot of time into developing your technique and your confidence is increasing all of the time. Why did you think you are suited to this job? What they are really asking is You know what we are looking for, can you tell us what skills have you developed and what experience you have that is relevant to the role What do you think makes a good...? In this question they want to know how much you understand about what the job involves. What research have you done into the type of position? You can use this answer to show that you understand the more mundane elements of the role. Why do you want to work for this organisation? What do you know about us? What research have you done? What do we market ourselves as offering to our employees? Where do you see yourself in five years time? This can be a difficult question, especially if you have not thought much beyond graduation and finding your first job. You want to sound ambitious enough to sound motivated but not too much so that it sounds like you will just use the job as a stepping stone to something else. Tell me more about your work experience? Focus on the things which are relevant to the position but also highlight any experience that has developed any transferable skills. 4 Interviews 4 CVs and Applications

5 CVs and Interviews Applications Competency based interview questions: These questions are designed to get you to give examples of how you have behaved in the past, which illustrates whether or not you have the skills they are looking for. You should be able to prepare some examples in advance by looking at the person specification and thinking of examples to illustrate the listed requirements. Make sure you describe what you have done and not we or us. The answer should be well structured and provide enough information to illustrate the required behaviour. More information on these questions is available below. The STAR technique The STAR technique is increasingly being used by employers to get applicants to display their skills and understanding of a particular matter. Getting a grip of the technique can significantly improve your chances of getting the job by demonstrating skills effectively. Situation: Describe the situation. Task: Describe what task was required of you. Action: Tell the interviewer what action you took. You need to discuss the challenges you faced, the decisions you made and the process that you followed. Result: Conclude by describing the result of that action. Be positive about your actions throughout your response and do not make up an example as you will NOT come across as believable. If you cannot think of good examples instantly, ask the interviewer for a moment or two to think about the question and then give your answer. The following handout available from the Developing Employability Skills section of our website will help you gather your evidence for skills based questions: brunel.ac.uk/services/pcc/ students/make-yourselfemployable/developing-skills Key Competencies Communication Give an example of a difficult or sensitive situation that required extensive communication? Tell me about a time that you have tailored your communication to a specific audience? Teamwork you worked successfully as a member of a team? Describe a situation in which you were a member (not a leader) of a team, and a conflict arose within the team. What did you do? Adaptability Describe a time when you altered your own behaviour to fit the situation? Tell me about a time when you had to change your point of view or your plans to take into account new information or changing priorities? Client Focus Give an example of how you provided service to a client beyond their expectations? you had to deal with a customer service issue? Problem Solving and Judgment Tell me about a time when you had to identify the underlying causes to a problem? Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a problem or make a decision that required careful thought. What did you do? Results Orientation Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a goal? Describe something you have done to improve the performance of your work or team? Role Specific Competencies Developing Others you coached someone to help them improve their skills or job performance? What did you do? Describe a time when you provided feedback to someone about his or her performance? Impact and Influence Describe a recent situation in which you convinced an individual or a group to do something? Describe a time when you went through a series of steps to influence an individual or a group on an important issue? Innovation Describe something you have done that was new and different for your, that improved performance and/or productivity? Placement and Careers Centre 5 Placement and Careers Centre 5

6 You are likely to be probed on your answers at interview. Make sure you book a mock interview with your Careers Consultant or Placement Officer to develop your interview technique prior to interview. you identified a new, unusual or different approach for addressing a problem or task? Leadership you had to lead a group to achieve an objective? Describe a situation where you had to ensure that your actions spoke louder than your words to a team? Self-Management Describe a time when you were in a high pressure situation? Describe a time when things didn t turn out as you had planned and you had to analyse the situation to address the issue? This is a small selection of potential competency questions. You are likely to be probed on your answers at interview. Make sure you book a mock interview with your Careers Consultant or Placement Officer to develop your interview technique prior to interview. Questions for them At the end of the interview you will usually be asked if you have any questions, you should always have a few prepared to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. There may also be appropriate points within the interview to ask pertinent questions. Example questions you could ask an employer What types of training opportunities can you offer? This is one of the classic questions as it can highlight that you are keen to advance your skills and add further value to a company. Can you please tell me how the role relates to the overall structure of the organisation? With this question you are 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. If I secure the role, is there anything you would like me to do to prepare for the role so that I can hit the ground running? This demonstrates motivation and willingness to go the extra mile. What projects have previous graduates/placement students been involved in? This can show that you like to know what sort of challenge you are going to face and that you like to get properly prepared for it, all in the expectation of being able to rise to it. Can you tell me about a project that you have been involved in that you are particularly proud of? (Or) What do you think is the best thing about working for this company? Here you are demonstrating an interest in the interviewer, this will help you build a rapport and find out more about the business. Adjust the question to fit the interviewer present the first version would be more appropriate for a Technical Manager than a HR Advisor. What are the most important issues that you think your organisation will face? (Or) You have recently introduced a new product/service/ division/project; how will this benefit the organisation? These variations both show that you are interested not just in the job but in the employer behind it. It will be apparent you have 6 Interviews 6 CVs and Applications

7 CVs and Interviews Applications done some research, done some thinking, and are now eager to hear their analysis. Finally, take the opportunity to thank them for an informative meeting and reiterate your interest in the role. Do not ask about holiday, pay or working hours you can if you are offered the job! Do not ask anything that you should have easily been able to find out through basic research. After the interview Follow up Analyse your performance and make notes about questions that you struggled to answer. Make sure you prepare answers for these questions for future interviews. Send an to the company thanking them for taking the time to interview you and reiterating your enthusiasm for the position. This will demonstrate a professional outlook which may count in your favour if they are struggling to choose between two applicants. Offer If you are 100% sure, accept the position straight away and on receiving your contract, remove yourself from other application processes. If you have any doubt, thank them for the offer and explain that you are very pleased but would like a little time to give it consideration. Contact your Careers Consultant or Placement Officer and engage in informal discussions with academics and your family regarding your final decision. If you do not secure the role Always request feedback to assist you with making improvements for subsequent interviews. Be positive, you have achieved a level of success by securing an interview. You only need to secure one role, aim for consistent improvement with your interview technique and you are highly likely to secure a role in the near future. Thank the company for taking the time to interview you but do not question their decision. If you act professionally they may consider you for subsequent roles. Advice for international students All the information and job hunting resources available from PCC are very relevant to the UK job hunting needs of international students. Additional resources are also available on our website, targeted at introducing and explaining the recruitment process in the UK, helping students to work with PCC staff to develop a job hunting strategy that meets their specific needs: brunel.ac.uk/services/pcc/ students/information-forinternational-students All students are encouraged to view the wealth of online help available on the PCC website including videos which will help you familiarise yourself with and clarify job hunting processes including assessment centres and interviews. CV templates, application form help and networking information can all be really useful to understand the information required by UK employers. This information can then provide the basis for an interaction with a Careers Consultant who will provide you with one-to-one career specific advice and guidance. To view case studies and to hear top tips from international students who have found success in their job search visit our workglobal pages: brunel.workglobal.org/ This pack acts as a general guide to interviews but we strongly suggest that you come and meet PCC to discuss your individual circumstances and for more specific guidance. For further information on our services, access to current vacancies and additional guidance on all application processes, please visit our website: Placement and Careers Centre 7 Placement and Careers Centre 7

8 More about the PCC The Placement and Careers Centre is your one-stop shop for advice, guidance and support when looking for work and planning your career. You can use our service from your first day at Brunel and for up to two years after you graduate. Jobs: part-time, vacation, placement and graduate opportunities. Events: recruitment, employability skills and careers uncovered. Advice and feedback: CVs, applications, interviews and assessment centres. Guidance: career options and postgraduate study. Information: online and in our careers library. Get started now... In person 1st Floor Bannerman Centre Web Phone Connect with us... facebook.com/ _Int

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