Handling Interviews By the end of the session you should be able to: understand the interview process understand the type of questions which you may be asked formulate answers to a variety of questions develop strategies for dealing with nerves
What is an interview? “A conversation with a purpose”
What do we mean by that ? Interviewer needs to know: Will you be able to perform the role ? Do you really want the job ? Will you fit in with their staff and work well within a team ? You need to know: Whether you can/want to take the placement More about the organisation and placement opportunity Whether you will be happy working there ?
Interview formats 1 or 2 interviewers or a panel Formal/informal Telephone Skills/competency based CV/application form based Technical
Preparing for an interview In pairs/small groups Read through the statements in the pack of cards Decide which 3 activities you think would be the most important in preparing for an interview Be prepared to feedback on your choices
Preparing for an interview Read the placement description/person spec – remind yourself what the placement provider is looking for If you don’t have this information, what do you think they will be looking for ? Skills ? Experience ? Knowledge ? Personal qualities ? Research the organisation’s website, ask in your department, read previous placement students’ reports
Example Placement Advert The placement involves the use of a range of microbiological, biochemical and molecular biological techniques with a strong emphasis on team work. The successful applicant will be expected to undertake a project during their placement and report regularly to their supervisor and the company on their progress. You should be able to demonstrate good written and oral communication skills. A problem solving mentality and a methodical approach to data generation and interpretation is highly desirable.
Mental Preparation Spend time reflecting on and researching: Yourself – skills, strengths, personal qualities Your application The placement Scientific skills and knowledge The company/organisation Current issues
Interview questions Factual Education, degree course Extra-curricular activities and interests Strengths, weaknesses, skills Motivational Interest in the placement and career plans Technical questions Situational/scenario Competency Knowledge relevant to the placement
Answering competency questions The STAR technique Describe the Situation Outline the Tasks you performed What Action did you take ? What was the Result ?
Answering competency questions The STAR technique TIPS Avoid too much detail about the context/situation Focus on the question and keep answers relevant Focus on what you did Be prepared to be questioned further on your actions – drilling down
Answering questions - Tips Aim to talk for a couple of minutes for competency based questions Listen carefully and ask for clarification if needed Always illustrate your answers with real examples and explain your personal contribution Be prepared for follow up questions Be prepared to reflect on your experiences
Answering questions - Tips Find something positive to say about everything – even difficulties you have encountered Keep answers specific and succinct Speak clearly, smile and be professional Take your time – think and plan your answer
Interview Practice In Pairs - interviewer/interviewee Give feedback Did the interviewee answer the question ? Did they give specific examples if requested ? Were their answers focussed with a logical structure ? Did they use positive language ? Non-verbal behaviour Anything else….any irritating habits ?
What else might you expect on the day ? Presentation by the organisation Tests, exercises, group activities Tour of the labs/premises/area of work Lunch with staff and/or current trainees Remember – your behaviour and attitudes are being observed during these activities !
Remember: first impressions count Dress and appearance Be led by your interviewer (s) Be polite, friendly and enthusiastic Tone of voice Vary your tone Speak clearly and concisely Accents/speed ? Body language Firm handshake Eye contact Smile ! Active listening Open posture Be aware of any irritating habits
Do you have any questions for the interviewer(s) ? Consider asking about…. The culture of the organisation Supervision and review of progress Type of work you’ll be involved in Possible projects Training Their organisational/departmental plans
What if….? You don’t know the answer to a question ? You don’t understand a question ? You are asked a question that you are unwilling to answer (or which could be discriminatory) ? You freeze and forget what you wanted to say ? You think of something you wished you had said earlier ? ……….Any other possibilities ?
Positive Mental Attitude Interviewers wouldn’t waste their own time You are a student at a highly regarded department and university Selectors obviously like what you have written so far Don’t worry about the other candidates Focus on the positives What is the worst thing that can happen?
Dealing with interview nerves Interviewers will allow for initial nervousness A little stress can sometimes be a good thing…. Relaxation exercises can help Counselling Service runs relaxation workshops www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/mental_health/copi ng_relaxation.shtmlwww.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/mental_health/copi ng_relaxation.shtml www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/relax.html www.mind.org.uk/Information/Factsheets (under Stress)www.mind.org.uk/Information/Factsheets
Sources of Help Careers Service for: Interview and assessment centre workshops Discussions with a Careers Adviser Reference books, takeaway guides, handouts DVDs/videos on interviews and assessment centres www.york.ac.uk/careers Prospects graduate careers website www.prospects.ac.uk/links/appsinterviews Your department