Tag Archives: interview

Jargon Buster

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.

Organisations

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.

Work Experience

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.

Job Descriptions and Applications

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.

Selection Process

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.

If you would like more information about some of these terms or support with finding and applying for opportunities, visit the careers service website or contact us directly.

4 Top Tips for Landing Your Dream Job (and why I should know…)

Landing your dream job can feel like the stuff of fantasy, but it doesn’t have to if you take the right approach.

As an ex-lawyer turned career coach with experience in property, PR, teaching and copywriting, I know all too well how important finding the right job is and the frustrations of being in a role which doesn’t quite fit.

I also know how much you’ve invested in your studies, the time you spend thinking about your career and that fulfilment can hinge on more than a pay cheque.

So here are my top tips for securing a job which ticks all the boxes:

  1. Know Your Values

Knowing who you are and what you want is essential to positive change. Before considering what kind of company or organization you’d like to work for, ask yourself what gives your life purpose and meaning, in and outside work. Your values might range from money, work-life balance and family to meeting new people, travel or having fun.

If you’re unsure what drives you, ask yourself what you couldn’t do without in a dream day, what you’re doing when you’re happiest or what you’d love to be paid for. If you’re still struggling, ask yourself what you really dislike and turn this on its head. For example, if it’s working long hours with little time to socialize, it may be that work-life balance is top of your list.

Once you know what drives you, focus on organizations which meet these needs and maximize your chances of fulfilment.

  1. Harness Your Strengths In Your Search

If you’ve got into the University of Bristol, chances are you’ve got strong analytical and critical thinking skills – the perfect combination for identifying your dream job! The most fulfilled people are resourceful in harnessing their strengths, helping them narrow down their ideal workplace, prepare for interview and seal the deal.

If you’re struggling to find the time or perspective to research what kind of organization appeals, reach out to one of our career advisors. They’ll help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. Our applications advisor will also have top tips for how to craft a winning CV, covering letter or application form.

  1. Prepare For Interview

Whether you’re a rising star or a Mensa child, intellectual skill and charm are no substitute for interview preparation. The most common pitfalls are being unable to communicate what an organization does, why this appeals and how your experience and skillset set you apart.

Avoid this by thoroughly reading the organization’s website, articles published by key stakeholders and talking to any contacts you may have. Then identify questions you could be asked and practise your answers with a trusted friend or one of our careers advisors. Ensure you tailor your answers to the skills and experience required in the job and person specification. And if you’re asked a competency based question (tell me a time when…), structure your answer around the STAR acronym – check out this handy video for tips.

Finally, be sure to show-off commercial awareness by reading up on market and organizational developments.

  1. Trust Your Instincts

You can read all you want around the firm but there’s no substitute for face to face gut feeling. If you have a good gut feeling, trust it. If not, ask yourself which of your core values aren’t being met and if this is a deal-breaker. Good luck!

 

What happens at a Careers Service Interview Skills event?

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 Interview Stream which is an online video interviewing module enabling you to practice 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.”
Good luck!

Using Video Resources at the Careers Service

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!

video

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.

https://careers.bristol.ac.uk/

Madeleine Dwyer, 3rd year Psychology student 

Ready for your close-up? Video interviews, your chance to shine on the small screen.

Does the idea of a video interview fill you with dread or are you secretly excited by the prospect? However you feel, they are becoming increasingly more popular with graduate recruiters. Don’t panic they’re not looking for the next movie star – actually they are just saving themselves some effort!

So what is a video interview?

A video interview is an interview that you record and send to the recruiter to view at a later date.

So why are video interviews so popular with graduate recruiters?

Time efficiency:  Trust me, having been a graduate recruiter, attempting to organise a phone interview in just two people’s diaries can be a nightmare, times this by 30 or 40 potential candidates for just a handful of positions and it adds up to several days’ worth of back and forth rescheduling. Video interviews do away with this. Recruiters set up one interview, send it to an unlimited number of candidates and give them a deadline to complete. You get to conduct the interview when it suits you and the interviewer can watch them at a convenient time for them.

Personality: Recruiters can’t read a candidate at the end of a phone, but on screen body language and personality come across. So make sure you are engaging and remember to smile.

Consistency: Every phone interview is essentially a different conversation, in comparison a video interviewer asks all the questions in exactly the same way to all candidates. This means that there is a more balanced evaluation of all candidates via this method, so it works in your favour.

Review and sharing: It’s easy with this format for recruiters to take a second look or share your interview with others if they want a second opinion. This is really helpful for them, so they are not just relying on their notes.

However remember, once the interview starts you can’t rewind or review your answers – it’s exactly the same as a face to face interview, without the interaction. So here are some tips to help you get it right first time:

Top Tips

  1. Check your background, take down the posters, remove that 3 day old mug and pick a room with clear bright lighting.
  2. Silence the house, warn your flatmates, silence your phone and close the door.
  3. Look presentable, just because you are in your bedroom this is not an excuse for PJs.
  4. Look into the camera, not the screen to ensure you are making eye contact.
  5. Timing: there may be a delay in the questions so make sure the ‘interviewer’ is completely finished before responding to avoid talking over them.
  6. Practice: see how you come across on video, do you fidget or wave your hands around, try to limit distracting gestures.
  7. Like a scout: be prepared. Are you using a laptop, is it plugged in with enough power, test every aspect of the equipment.
  8. Clean the camera lens, the slightest smudge can be very distracting for the interviewer.
  9. Sit still, be aware that the microphone picks up all the noise in the room so don’t tap your pen or shuffle papers.
  10. Have notes in bullet format to prompt you and place them at eye level, so you are not constantly looking down or reading from them.

As always the Careers Service is here to answer any questions or help you to prepare for your interviews so get in touch if you need more help or advice.

Good Luck!

Claire Wrixon, Careers Adviser

Interview with Kate Blythe, Editorial and Content Director at Matchesfashion.com

For all those aspiring to work in the Fashion Industry or to go into Journalism, Kate Blythe from Matches Fashion has kindly taken part in an interview which will be a very useful read!

Why did you decide to work in the fashion industry, and how did it start?

I always wanted to be a fashion journalist from the age of 10 or 11. I collected American and British Vogue magazines for years and fell in love with the beautiful images and inspirational features.  From that age onwards I had my heart set on a  fashion journalism career and so I focused on English literature and Language as my speciality. I took English, Psychology and History A Levels and then I went to Leeds University to study an English degree. Before university, however, I set up work experience at my local paper and then went to IPC to intern at various magazines such as 19 magazine and Just 17. As a post-graduate, I went to Time Out magazine in London where I worked for 6 months as a freelance writer, and from there I went to ELLE magazine where I worked for 4 years as fashion features writer before moving into the digital world after that.

What does a typical day for you look like at Matchesfashion.com?

I start work around 8.30am and have 30 minutes before the team arrive to get through my emails and answer any queries. I sign off, approve and commission all content across mens and womens digital and print titles so my day is a constant stream of questions from my team and proofs to sign off. I also oversee all video content, along with marketing emails, social media and all fashion. I can be approving a fashion rail full of clothes for a cover shoot one minute, then sitting in the executive team meetings discussing forward planning the next. It’s non-stop and very varied, which is why I love my job! I leave work at 6pm to get home to my three children before bedtime which is also when the US markets are up and so I then deal with talent agents regarding celebrity cover stories and shoots.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has been building a world class team here at Matchesfashion.com and rebranding all of the website and content in a short space of time. It has been an exciting 18 months and the best is yet to come.

What do you enjoy the most about working in fashion?
I love all aspects of fashion – from the incredible talent of the designers behind the collection, to the beautiful product that is created to the editorial stories we pull together from the collections we stock.  It is fast moving, exciting and inspiring.

What made you choose English as your degree, and what was your best experience whilst at Uni?
I have always been passionate about writing and would love writing essays at school and sixth form college. There is something about story telling that is very exciting to me and so there was really no other degree that I would have considered, other than fashion journalism. University was wonderful and I loved meeting great friends, learning new skills and knowing that I was preparing myself for a future in journalism. I couldn’t wait to get started!

Do you have any advice for students on how to stay creative and keep coming up with new ideas?
Read as much as possible – the news, websites, blogs, fashion commentary, magazines. Arm yourself with information and never think that you know it all. I am learning new skills every day and that triggers ideas in my mind for new ideas. Never plagiarise, always be original and stick to your passions rather than follow the pack. Then you will have the potential to be hugely successful!

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?
Take on as much work experience as possible and when you are in a company doing a placement or internship, throw yourself into the role and make yourself indispensable. That is what I did and two months later I was offered a full time job. Never say no, always say yes to whatever task is given to you and your positive attitude and can-do nature will go a long way in impressing the right people.

What key skills do you need to get into fashion?
Great personal taste, passion for the subject you are working on and digital knowledge. Nowhere is purely print these days, so digital skills are a necessity for being a future fashion leader.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice whilst you were a student, what would it be?
I used to have to read a whole pile of books every week yet I never allowed myself enough time to really enjoy them. I would have told my younger self to enjoy the time I had and to absorb the literature I was reading, rather than racing through it all. I never have any time these days to read a good book, so that was my perfect opportunity.

Surviving competency and strengths-based interviews

interview

It’s that time of year when many of you will be invited to assessment centres, following all your hard work in the autumn spent completing those labour-intensive application forms. This post focuses just on the interview component, with more on other forms of selection to follow in later posts. If you need more help with assessment centres now, then look at the information on the Careers Service website: where you will find guidance on group exercises, written tests and presentations.

Competency interviews
This type of interview is by far the most common and is all about your skills. The key to success here is being confident about three key areas: you, the company to which you are applying and the wider sector in which you want to work.
Knowing yourself
• You must provide as much specific evidence as possible in your answers, relevant to that company’s needs, if you want to stand out.
• Use the STAR framework to structure your answers. Offer the Situation and Task concisely, then spend most of your time on the Action you took and why you took it (decisions, judgements, justifications) and the Result: what was the outcome and, very importantly, what did you learn from the experience?
Typical competency questions would be: ‘Tell us about a time you worked in a team. What was your specific contribution?, or, ‘Describe a time when you solved a problem by thinking creatively.’ Get as much practice as you can in answering questions out loud, so that you can learn to think quickly and speak fluently. You can find lots of example questions in our interview skills booklet on the Careers web site.

Knowing the company and the sector
• This is your chance to show off your commercial awareness or knowledge of the company and sector in which you want to work. Make sure your research goes beyond the organisation’s web site! Google is the obvious place to start, and clicking on the ‘News’ tab will help you to find industry-specific information and relevant trade publications.
• Don’t forget to stay up to date with quality national newspapers and industry publications, many of which you can access online. Check the news on the morning of your interview, so you don’t get caught out by any important developments.

Strengths-based interviews
This is a less common style but one that is gaining in popularity. These interviews are aimed at identifying what you naturally enjoy doing and what motivates you, rather than competency interviews where they want to find out what you are capable of doing. The idea is to match candidates to work that most suits them, so they work more productively and in an engaged way.
Typical strengths-based interview questions include:
• What energises you and why?
• What did you enjoy most about your university course?
• What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
• What tells you that you’ve had a good day?
• What challenges do you take on to stretch yourself?
For this kind of interview, knowing yourself and being able to reflect on your motivations is crucial; it will be a much more personal experience than competency interview, so don’t be thrown! If you need help with some self-analysis, try the University’s Personal Development Planning tool on MyBristol, or have a look at Stella Cottrell’s book Skills for Success, available at the Careers Service.
Do come in and ask us about interview preparation if you’re not sure what to do.
Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser