OK, most people don’t like interviews. It’s normal. But there are ways to overcome your fears with practical steps and positive thinking. (more…)
OK, most people don’t like interviews. It’s normal. But there are ways to overcome your fears with practical steps and positive thinking. (more…)
June 4th sees the launch of Before You Go Week, an intensive week of events, talks and individual appointments to help you make the most of the summer months – whether you are graduating, or coming back to the University in September.
We’d love to support as many of you as possible. Take our quiz to find out if you could benefit from coming in to see us before you go!
Alex secured a role with Selfridges as a Front End Developer after graduating in 2015 with a BSc Politics and the Bristol PLUS Award under his belt.
“The Bristol PLUS Award encouraged me to pursue hours of paid work which helped populate my CV and gave me experience of what to expect in an office. It also helped prepare me with examples that I could talk about in my interview, to help showcase various efforts I made in trying to gain employment.
LinkedIn is ideal for building a professional network and giving prospective employers a good view of who you are and is a popular medium for recruiting people. However, have you considered your other social media pages when it comes to job hunting?
Whether you’re looking for a part-time job, internship or a graduate role, social media can have a key part to play.
The terms employers use to talk about their organisation and/or their recruitment process can be confusing. Get prepared for the autumn term employer events and your job applications with our jargon-buster.
Magic circle – Nothing to do with Harry Potter. This is the term sometimes used to describe the top 5 law firms in the UK: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter & May.
Silver circle – Similar to the above, a group of top law firms that do not quite rank alongside the magic circle: Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith.
The big 4 – These are the 4 largest professional services networks in the world: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG. They offer audit, assurance, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services.
SMEs – Small or medium-sized enterprises. In the European Union, these are defined as organisations that employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of no more than 50 million euros.
Vacation scheme – This is not a holiday! A period of work experience with a law firm, usually running for 1 or 2 weeks.
Internship – These are often paid placements offered by firms who regularly recruit graduates. Most often in the summer, but there are also part-time, term-time and vacation opportunities.
Hidden jobs market – This is a term often used to describe jobs that aren’t advertised. You can tap into this by networking, making use of contacts and writing speculative applications.
Entry level job – A role that requires little prior experience in the field or profession.
Referees – These are the contacts (usually two) you put on CVs or application forms who can be contacted by an employer to verify the information you have provided or to give insight into your personality. The referee should know you well enough to be able to write positively about you.
Transferrable skills – Also known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘portable skills’, these are skills used in one job or career that can also be used in another, rather than relying on direct experience of the industry. For example, leadership, organisation and communication skills.
DOE – Think it’s a female deer? Think again! Abbreviation for ‘dependent on experience’. An employer will offer a salary within a given range but is willing to pay more for a candidate with more experience.
OTE – Abbreviation for on-target earnings. This is an estimate of actual earnings where pay is made up of both base salary and a variable bonus/commission. Particularly found in job descriptions for sales roles.
Graduate scheme – A structured programme for recent graduates that includes work and training. It can last up to 3 years, though some are much shorter. Completing the scheme successfully often secures a professional qualification as well as a permanent role in the organisation.
Psychometric test – Any activity and assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate candidate performance, including intelligence, skills and personality.
Assessment centre – Usually a day or half day at an employer’s office or training venue involving a combination of tasks and activities to find the right candidates. Involves working in groups and includes a variety of exercises such as role play, in-tray exercises and presentations.
Competency-based interview – This is an interview where situational or behavioural questions are asked. They aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges.
Strengths-based interview – Type of interview style becoming increasingly popular amongst graduate recruiters. It aims to find out what you enjoy doing and hence what engages you the most.
The Careers Service’s new hashtag is #GetCareerReady. What does this mean? And how can we help you to Get Career Ready?
Explore – what’s right for you and what are the options?
What does a career mean to you? What job is right for you? Before you can answer these questions you need to know what will suit you. The Careers Service guide has some straightforward exercises to complete that will help you think about this. Look at this online or come in and pick up a copy at the Careers Service.
Exploring is also about understanding what jobs exist out there. Trying to understand the job market can be incredibly hard, there are 1000s of opportunities and unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to do, searching for companies and graduate roles can be daunting. We run regular talks on how to research organisations and industries, plus we have a number of sector guides on our website to get you started.
Alongside exploring your options you need to be developing your own set of skills, understanding what makes you unique and learning how to manage yourself. Not much then! So how do you do all that?
The main thing you need to do is get involved in activity as part of your degree, as well as away from your studies. It’s important to be active, not passive, do not expect opportunities to come to you. The more you get involved in societies, volunteering, part time work, sports, initiatives within your school, research lectures and work shadowing, the more you will be developing skills and becoming the “all-rounder” that employers look for.
Jo Hutchings, the Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at the Careers Service says “in my experience the students who come into the Careers Service who have been proactive in getting involved whilst at university, generally have a more mature attitude, a confidence in the way they present themselves and the ability to take feedback and act on it. These are all qualities, that if I notice them in a short 15 minute appointment, an employer is certainly going to see at an interview or assessment centre stage!”
The Bristol PLUS Award is designed to help all students develop skills at university, with opportunities to reflect on your experiences, to gain a better understanding of who you are and your strengths. This enables you to become more self aware, a quality all employers look for.
Finally, competing for jobs/further study
So #GetCareerReady is about understanding what jobs are out there and what might suit you. Once you have started to establish this, you need to get applying to compete for opportunities.
And, it is a competition; you need to be prepared to work hard for the opportunities out there. Put time into your applications, research organisations, understand the roles you are applying for and get feedback before your final submission. The Careers Service is well equipped to give you this feedback and advice through our appointments. We also have a wide variety of talks to help you prepare for the application process. These are complemented by online advice and practical help with our interview simulator on mycareer and practice selection tests.
So if you want to #GetCareerReady, come into the Careers Service to find out how we can help you, as one of our recent users said:
“The Careers Service is fantastic. Professional and comprehensive. I can’t flaw the incredible service”
What happens at a Careers Service Interview Skills event?
As part of Selection Perfection fortnight we ran a variety of sessions covering the different stages of the selection process.
One of the most popular sessions was an Interview Skills workshop run by Ed Bootle from True Clarity. This workshop covered the essential preparation for interviews that students should be doing (but are so often overlooked), and looked at how to answer the interview questions you are dreading!
What did the students think of the session?
“As a mature student at Bristol, I have already attended several daunting job and university interviews. However, I am always completely intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of another one! Ed Bootle’s interview skills workshop was one of the most practical and honest sessions I have attended at university. Coming directly from the interviewer’s mouth, Ed gave us a real insight into how interviews are designed to work, what the interviewer is expecting from you, and what you can do to make the best impression possible. Too often we take for granted the simple things, such as standing up when shaking hands or ensuring that you have robust questions to ask at the end of your interview. The workshop was candid and easy-going, and I feel as though everybody walked away from it feeling much more confident about themselves and their next big interview.”
Sarah Muston (2nd year BA Anthropology)
Lee gives us an insight into some of the topics that were covered in the session:
“The session was delivered by an experienced interviewer so it was great to get a feel for the interview process from an expert. I found the section on which questions are good to ask and those that are not so good to ask in an interview interesting. We did a group activity on how to approach awkward questions, the key thing that I took away from that activity was to be mindful of why certain questions are being asked. I didn’t quite appreciate the importance of a job specification, but as the speaker clearly pointed out – the job specification is a very useful tool to tailor your interview preparation around. I would highly recommend this session to anyone who wants to learn how to deliver an effective interview.”
Lee Clay (2nd year BSc Childhood Studies with Quantitative Research Methods)
How to get help preparing for interview
Preparation and practice are key! If you would like help with preparing for interviews, please take a look at the interview section on our website, as well as our interview simulator on mycareer which is an online video interviewing module enabling you to practise answering questions and perfecting your technique. We will be running more interview skills events throughout the rest of the academic year. You can keep up to date with all our events through mycareer.
One final note from us:
“The key to a good interview is preparation and understanding what the interviewer is asking and why.”
Telling a future employer that you have a disability can be one of the hardest parts of applying for a job and preparing for an interview. In a recent study conducted by greatwithdisability.com, 76% of studentssaid they were concerned about informing a potential employer about their disability or health condition. You might be reluctant to disclose a disability or illness because you’re worried about being discriminated against or being seen as a hassle to employers. You’re under no legal obligation to disclose a disability.However, there can be benefits to being open about your situation, for example:
Finally, it might be reassuring to know that employers are required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace, including adjusting working hours or providing equipment, to enable an employee with disabilities to do the job. See the disability rights section on the GOV.UK website for more information, including the access to work scheme. You may also want to look out for employers who indicate they have a positive attitude to disability. This may be evident from their recruitment information and their website. Employers may use the positive about disabled people ‘two ticks’ symbol, which guarantees an interview to all candidates with disabilities who fulfil the minimum requirements for the job.
For more information, there is a helpful section on disclosing your disability on the equality and diversity TARGETjobs website and greatwithdisability.com is a useful resource containing tips and case studies.
And don’t forget, if you need help or support with disclosure of any kind you can come and talk to us at the Careers Service as well, just drop in and see us.
The videos provided by the Careers Service are not a resource to be ignored – hearing from graduate recruiters themselves about what they are looking for in graduates is valuable information. The videos are split into several easy to understand sections; CVs & Cover Letters, Interview Techniques, Assessment Centre Advice, Job Hunting, Self-Employment, & more! Each video focuses on a specific aspect of employment, like ‘How to write Work Experience on a CV’, and features testimonials from the people who see hundreds of CVs and Cover Letters everyday – this is the information YOU need to know to land that dream graduate job!
In currently trying to land my dream graduate job and facing the prospect of scary assessment centres, I found the videos explaining what tasks and activities I should expect to happen at an assessment centre particularly useful. Assessment centres can vary widely in terms of what tasks they ask you to complete, from presentations and straightforward group tasks, to trying to convince others what celebrities to put in a hot air balloon! When tasks can be as strange as this it is important to understand what key skills employers are looking for: prioritisation, confidence, communication skills, listening skills, persuasion etc. Assessment centres aren’t just about how you compare against others, succeeding in the task is not always about being correct, it is about demonstrating your skills.
Another important tip I learnt from the videos is that you are being assessed outside of the assessment tasks too – from the moment you enter the centre to the moment you step out of the door to go home, your behaviour and how you communicate with others is being carefully analysed, even during coffee breaks! Make sure you have an in depth knowledge of the organisation, as well as their partners and competitors – having commercial awareness will help you stand out over other candidates.
I definitely feel more confident and prepared for my upcoming assessment centre now that I’ve received this advice from employers themselves. Whatever aspect of employment you’re struggling with, I recommend using the greatly informative videos provided by University of Bristol Careers Services.
Madeleine Dwyer, 3rd year Psychology student
With companies like Ernst & Young, Barclays, BAE Systems and Unilever all using strength based questions to recruit, this type of interview is one that you need to get familiar with.
So how do strength questions differ from more traditional competency based questions?
Competency interviews are based on the assumption that past behaviour will predict future performance, they assess what you can do by asking you to describe a time when you’ve demonstrated a certain skill. Answers can therefore be considered, planned and rehearsed in advance.
Strengths on the other hand are innate, and talking about your strengths in an interview gives you a chance to demonstrate passion and real authenticity. Questions are designed to look at what you enjoy doing and have a natural aptitude for providing employers with a more genuine insight into your personality. More significantly they generate fewer fake, pre-prepared answers.
Questions you might be faced with include:
Why are strength interviews increasing in popularity?
Employers want to find individuals who fit with the values and the culture of their organisation as they will be more likely to stay in the job long term. They also want to identify potential and strength based questions allows them to do both.
If you’re using your strengths at work you’re more likely to perform at your best, pick up new skills faster and this in turn increases the probability of you enjoying the role and getting true job satisfaction. It therefore also handily helps you to work out whether you would want the job if offered it.
How to approach a strengths-based interview if you can’t prepare!
And if you don’t get offered the job this interview style makes it easy to understand why. On reflection you’re likely to come to the conclusion that you wouldn’t have been happy in this role because it just doesn’t suit you.