Our Top Ten Posts of 2012 December 20, 2012Posted by TCG Info in : CVs, Industry Focus, Interviews, Right side of the Law, Skills and Competencies, career profiles, employability and skills, networking , add a comment
We’ve had a busy year here at Develop your career. We’ve covered loads of career topics like internships, avoiding job scams, networking and, of course, CVs and applications.
If you’re new to Develop your Career, or simply can’t remember all the posts you’ve read in the last twelve months. Here are our top ten most popular posts of 2012
We’re away for vacation now but will return with a new post on 3 January 2013. Do let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in 2013.
Interviews, The Careers Group Blogs , add a comment
Originally posted at QM Jobs Blog
High Fliers Research Limited found that more than half of employers interviewed candidates by telephone during the 2012 recruitment round, either as part of the pre-screening process or the first-round interview.
So what is a telephone interview and how should you prepare?
Employers are ever increasingly using telephone interviews as a more cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face format, especially as part of the early stages of a recruitment process. But if you’ve never had one before, you may be wondering what exactly a telephone interview is and how you should prepare.
Well, a telephone interview is an interview, but over the phone. By this I mean, the interviewer will still be making assessments based on how you answer the questions and your demeanour, just as they would in a face-to-face interview. It’s just as important that you make a good first impression…you’ll just have to do so without relying on that winning smile!
As with any interview, preparation is important, and a lot of the tips are general:
You – be prepared to answer questions on anything you’ve written in your CV, covering letter or application form.
The job – make sure that you’ve familiarised yourself with the job description, know what skills the employer is looking for and emphasise them in your answers.
The organisation – do your research beforehand and be prepared to answer the “So, what do you know about us?” question.
Then there are a few tips specific to telephone interviews:
Location – try to find somewhere quiet, where you won’t be disturbed, to have the interview. Sounds obvious, but also make sure that you have a good phone connection here, especially if you’re using a mobile.
Memory aids – take advantage of the fact that you can use the internet and notes in a telephone interview. But use with caution. Used well, these aids will help to jog your memory and make your answers sound more seamless and informed. However, long pauses while you rifle through papers or quickly google the company will not make a good impression – remember that the interviewer isn’t daft and will recognise a lack of preparation.
Just because they can’t see you… – a couple of tips, that may sound a tad bizarre, are to dress smartly and smile while you speak. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, if you’re feeling bright and confident, this will come across in your voice. Don’t be afraid of silence, the lack of non-verbal communication in a telephone interview can make pausing to collect your thoughts all the more daunting. But well-thought responses, with a few pauses, will come across much better than rushed answers.
Practice – this is the best way to pick up on any aspects of your interview technique that you may need to work on. The volume, speed and clarity of your speech are important in any interview but much more so in a telephone interview. Remember you can book a practice telephone interview with one of our careers consultants, which should help you iron out any kinks and hopefully leave you feeling calmer and help you to perform better on the day.
Blogs are good for your career! September 20, 2012Posted by Kirsti Burton in : Interviews, Publishing, The Careers Group Blogs, employability and skills , add a comment
Originally posted at QM Jobs Blog
Ok so I admit that writing a blog myself means I might be a bit biased on this subject, but I really do think that blogs can be good for your career. Really.
How I hear you ask?
Well, in a number of ways actually.
1) Write your own blog. Not only is this an excellent opportunity for you to develop your writing skills, but it is an immediate way of getting some additional skills and experience that you can mention on your CV. Along with the obvious communication skills etc, it shows initiative, drive and commitment. Writing skills and experience is not only crucial for roles in journalism, marketing and PR. Whatever industry you want to enter, being able to write in a clear and concise way that is suitable for the intended audience is important.
2) Reading other blogs is a great way of keeping up to date with current trends and developments in the area of work you are looking to get in to. Due to the instant update nature of blogs, you can have the very latest information at your fingertips. Use this information at interview or on an application form to show your interest and enthusiasm for the industry. Make yourself stand out from the crowd by being able to show your commercial awareness and understanding of the market through having current knowledge and examples.
So if you are applying for a finance or management job, you may be asked your opinion on the recent budget announcement or the current economic climate. For a marketing or TV role you may be asked what your favourite marketing campaign or television programme is right now and why.
Mentioning to an interviewer that you follow relevent blogs is likely to make you stand out from the crowd, however be prepared to explain which ones you follow, why and what you have learned from them. The BBC alone has hundreds of different blogs, ranging from general news to science or the arts. The same applies with most newspapers too. Depending on your industry of interest, you could choose to read a blog written by a particular journalist who reports on finance, business, politics or health for example. The opportunities are endless!
Commenting on other blogs can be a great part of networking online. As well as getting writing experience, you can build links with other writers. You can then use these contacts within your network to find out more about a particular job, how they got into the industry, what advice they would give to graduates looking for work experience and so on. You never know, if you play your cards right, they might even be able to help you gain further work experience, or even paid work.
Interviews, employability and skills , add a comment
Coping with rejection after rejection was harder than climbing Everest itself. That was one of the messages that Royal Holloway alumnus Tori James shared with students when she returned to the campus recently. Tori was the youngest British woman, and first Welsh woman, to climb Everest. For her, the task was 90% mental attitude, 10% physical strain. But the constant rejection from corporate sponsors kept eroding her spirit, making the project so much more challenging.
At the same event, a final year student mentioned that he increasingly felt bitter with all the rejection letters – and more so when there was no response at all. Similarly, there was immense frustration for one student that had passed five of six stages in a selection process, had invested many hours of substantial research, self development and practice, to fail so close to the end. It can be very hard to pick yourself up from that. Tori’s message was that you had to pick yourself up and keep going, but finding mechanisms to help is a little bit more tricky.
I’m aware that despite writing this post, I haven’t mastered any technique either. The last time I failed to secure a position it took me months, literally, to get over it. With rejections following rejections, it should be natural to develop a thick skin and move on, but the reality is that rejection can hurt. This first advice is always to remember that rejection is not personal. But it usually feels that way…. (more…)
The DOs and DONTs of a Successful Interview January 17, 2012Posted by Kirsti Burton in : Interviews, Selection Process , 1 comment so far
Originally posted at QM Jobs Blog
You’ve worked hard on your application and have spent days of compulsively checking your email hoping for a reply. Finally hear back from the company and, surprise, surprise, you’ve been invited for invited for an interview!
First of all, congratulations! Getting invited for an interview means you’re in the last stages of the recruitment process and the employer is really interested in you. However, don’t take this for granted – the interview is vital in convincing the employer you’re the right person for the job. Ensure you make the most of this opportunity to really sell yourself and give the right impression. Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to the interviewer and give specific, focused answers to their questions.
- Use the STAR technique when asked to provide examples of your skills and experience: Situation, Task, Action and Result.
- Highlight your achievements and talk about those skills that make you stand out (motivation, hard work, leadership, etc).
- Use facts and figures to give a tangible impression of your successes.
- Give varied examples of what’s outstanding about you: perhaps you led a university project or were involved in a rock-climbing society. Anything out of the ordinary that helped you gain new skills.
- Be truthful, but stay positive. Talk about your weaknesses and failures, but focus on what you’ve learned and how they made you a better candidate.
- Be enthusiastic and show your genuine interest in the job!
- Give yes or no answers. The interviewer wants to see why they should hire you, so expand on your answer and give details about yourself.
- Digress or go off topic – while giving specific answers is fine, getting caught up in convoluted explanations isn’t!
- Make things up! The interviewer might ask for further details of your little fib, and it’s easy to lose track of what you’re saying!
- Forget to mention university projects or extra-curricular activities as examples of skills and competencies. Employers want ‘well-rounded’ people who have been involved in all aspects of university life.
- Be overly modest! If you feel you’ve achieved something extraordinary, don’t hesitate to talk about it! Employers will appreciate your confidence and initiative.
- At the same time, don’t be arrogant about your skills! Too much self-confidence will give off the wrong impression – so be realistic!
- Be afraid to ask questions. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.
For further help on how to prepare and to see a list of interview questions see the resources page of our website. You can also book to see a Careers Consultant to practice answering some questions.
Raluca Maria Chereji
2nd year French and politics student at Queen Mary
Assessment Centres January 9, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Interviews, Psychometric and Personality testing, employability and skills , add a comment
The typical application process for a Graduate Training Scheme would be: Online Application Form, Online Psychometric Tests, telephone interview, assessment centre, final interview followed by the job offer. As you can see it can be a lengthy process with each element being crucial to the overall application. Not all companies run this process and many will not include the telephone interview but rather have the first interview at the assessment centre.
Employers like assessment centres because they believe they can assess the practical skills required to do the job whilst giving candidates the opportunity to show their strengths. Employers believe assessment centres can help to remove bias in the selection process. Another benefit is that they can compare candidates with each other more easily.
The criteria you are assessed on should be the same core competencies that were covered when you applied for the job. Assessors will use a table to score you on each of those competencies. But they are also looking as you, how will you fit into their company, how capable are you of presenting a professional image to clients and external stakeholders?
You should attend the Assessment Centre wearing smart business attire – and that means well polished shoes too! Remember, you want to act professional so the employers can visualise you in their workplace.
So what happens at the Assessment Centre?
This really does depend on the company or organisation you are applying to. Most Assessment Centres take place in corporate offices or hotels and usually last a whole day, some may be over two days (e.g. some investment banks, JWT). The centre is often the first time that the company sees you so it is essential to make the right impression. You will attend the centre with other candidates and that can be intimidating for some people. You should bear in mind that you may not be competing with the other candidates because they might be applying for slightly different roles or locations. Throughout the day the staff should make you feel at ease and you will have regular refreshments and usually lunch provided. Remember that whilst these breaks aren’t assessed they do present the employers with an idea of how the candidate behaves so remember to be nice and sociable with staff and other candidates!
A good recent account of a candidate attending the Ernst & Young assessment centre can be found on Wikijob.
The centre will run several exercises and the staff will assess each candidate based on their performance. You may also be asked to do further psychometric tests – companies do this to verify your performance in the online tests. Some employers will only re-run the psychometric tests on a selection of candidates as a sample of overall reliability.
Typical exercises include delivering presentations, business games, in-tray (or e-tray) and group exercises. Over the next few posts we’ll consider these. There are also lots of resources available to help.
My interviewer was wearing pyjamas! July 13, 2011Posted by TCG Info in : Interviews, Skills and Competencies, employability and skills , add a comment
Our sister blog International Futures recently blogged on them but it seems that interview season continues. In our careers services we are seeing students going through different stages of the selection process including interviews. Some of the more bizarre situations include one candidate being interviewed, through video conference, by a high level executive from his hotel room in Singapore. He was wearing pyjamas and yawned throughout the interview. Makes you feel special doesn’t it? Another candidate tells of a group interview where they had to argue why the person to their left shouldn’t get the job.
As careers advisers we work with an extensive range of recruiters but cannot possibly know the thinking behind every question. In that example, the student concentrated on why they should be recruited rather than focus on the person on their left. How do you evaluate somebody you have never met before? The student’s response was reasonable but didn’t appear to answer the question. If you have views on how that should be answered, use the comments to share them!
Whilst you can prepare yourself and your knowledge in readiness for an interview, you cannot prepare so well for a poor interviewer. Once I was recruiting for a new position and had a severe coughing fit through a couple of the interviews. It was awful and terribly embarrassing – and candidates would have been right to question whether they wanted to work with me! Interviewers are (usually) human and want to do the right thing. That doesn’t stop some, like the boss who interviewed in the nude, seeming to enjoy the power of the situation. Likewise there are interviewers who are not up to date on the legal framework in recruiting – a friend of mine was recently asked if she planned to have children and if so, when – questions that are no longer acceptable.
So how do you prepare for the unexpected?
Instinct should be your friend. The situation of the nude boss should send clear warning signals about the work environment and their character – there is little point in pursuing the interview. My friend also decided that if a recruiter was so ill-educated in employment law it didn’t bode well for the company, and withdrew her application. If it doesn’t feel right, no matter how “hungry” you are for a job, it may not be the best move for you.
Professionalism should also play a part. So whilst the professionalism of the pyjama wearing executive can be questioned, that of the candidate should remain strong. To some degree it is pretending that this is all perfectly normal behaviour and getting on with delivering your best performance.
And if you think you’ve had a tough interview, imagine being Guy Goma who got a slightly different interview from what he was expecting:This post was originally published on International Futures
How will you measure up? May 16, 2011Posted by Information Officer in : Interviews , add a comment
Originally posted at International Futures
*****Be aware this content is over two years old*****
Ok, imagine this: there’s a door ahead of you. What happens behind that door can be a life changing experience, and you will remember your first. You will be expected to perform and be compared to others. When you leave you may feel shattered, elated or confused. Can you live up to expectation?
Despite the development of intricate competency based assessments, psychometric and personality tests, it is often still the interview that determines whether you get offered a job. So what can you do in forty-five minutes to win over an interview panel?
Perhaps a better way to think of it is if you were interviewing candidates for the post, what would you need them to do to win you over? How would you differentiate between several candidates with pretty much the same level of experience?
Preparation is fundamental to interview success. Interviewers are more impressed with company and sector specific knowledge than general references to the recession! What makes this company different from its competitors? Why do you want the job? Many employers will tell you what skills they are looking for. Make sure you have two or three strong examples of how you demonstrated them.
The benefits of research can be compromised by inadequate planning. Students often underestimate how long it takes to get across London. Make sure you arrive twenty minutes early so plan your route beforehand. Think about what you should wear – just because an office allows its staff to wear jeans and t-shirts doesn’t mean the candidates can.
If you have an interview coming up you can book a practice interview at your careers centre. These one-to-one sessions cover everything from body language to anxiety, skills answers to etiquette. Careers Services often run workshops on interview technique. You also find some resources on our Working in the UK page.