Tag Archives: interview skills

How to master a Skype interview

Skype meetings are now commonplace in the workplace, and are increasingly used for job interviews too. Here are some useful top tips on how to prepare for them by Kirsty Brewer (The Guardian 16th May 2016).

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Dress professionally

Should you still dress as if you are in a face-to-face interview? Yes – general interview etiquette still applies. “The dynamics are different, with body language being the main barrier, so it is vital to make a good impression based on your dress and surroundings,” says Matthew Roberts, CEO at NonExecutiveDirectors.com, a network site for employers.

Don’t be tempted just to dress smartly from the waist-up, assuming that’s all the interviewer will see, warns Graham Oates, CEO of Norrie Johnston Recruitment. “I’ve been in plenty of Skype interview situations where the candidate has had to stand up.” Being in formal dress will also help you to feel like it is a formal interview and put you in the right frame of mind, he adds.

Pick your backdrop wisely

How much attention will be paid to where you are sitting for the interview? The safe rule of thumb is to assume that a lot of attention will be given to your surroundings – so set up well in advance and take time to look at how the interviewer will see you.

“Find a neutral, tidy spot if possible. Mess, pot plants or food may subconsciously impact an interviewer’s view of the meeting and reflect badly on you,” says Jonathan Bennet, a director at Capita Resourcing. His advice is to set yourself up so the interviewer can see your face, hair, shoulders and upper torso. Consider the lighting and how you are sat too. “They don’t want a giant, poorly lit face talking at them for an hour.” Also, make sure you are in a quiet room which will not be interrupted.

Get to grips with the technology beforehand

Before you begin, make sure you’ve got to grips with the technology to avoid any last minute panic, especially if you haven’t used Skype before. “Set up a practice interview with a friend to make sure you are happy with how you come across on screen as well as being able to confidently use the system,” suggests Roberts. Check your microphone is properly set, your voice is audible, the picture quality is good and that you are in a spot with a strong internet connection.

But if technology fails midway through, don’t panic, says David Cairncross, director at Hays. “If a problem with your technology throws you off during your interview, just remain professional,” he says. The interviewer will be aware that some things are out of your control, should anything happen start the call again to regain a connection, and quickly make contact to update the interviewer so you can continue as soon as possible.

Don’t be late

“You wouldn’t dream of turning up late for a face-to-face interview, so having to delay one over Skype because you haven’t done your technical groundwork is inexcusable,” says Oates. Call and get it all setup a few minutes early to avoid any awkwardness. Equally, have your notes ready and a glass of water to hand so you aren’t fiddling with papers or getting a dry mouth once you make a start.

Remember body language

Skype interviews leave little room for those informal interactions you might have on the walk from reception or the ride in the lift – so it is important your eye contact and facial expressions are not compromised by the technology either.

“Remember to look at the camera – not the screen – that way the interviewer will feel you are maintaining eye contact,” says Oates. “Remember to smile and have an engaged and pleasant facial expression. Try to forget you are talking to a computer screen and imagine the interviewer being physically in the room with you.”

how-to-master-a-skype-interview 16th May 2016

UoC Careers and Employability team can support you with interview skills practice, and this includes setting up a face-t0-face or Skype mock interview too.

Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to make an appointment.

 

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Interview Skills – Using the STAR Approach

Preparing for Interview? Try using the STAR Model!

From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarism_4/

Competency based interviews (or situational/behaviour interviews) are becoming the approach of choice for many employers. This type of recruitment process allows candidates to give situational examples of when they have achieved particular outcomes. Competency based interviews (CBI) are used as benchmarks for interviewers. Using this style of questioning means they can rate and evaluate candidates and their ability to fit into the new work environment instantly. This may seem daunting for many candidates particularly those who have no experience of CBI. Clearly, it is important for any candidate to be prepared.

An effective technique to employ when answering competency based questions is the “STAR” method. It allows you to focus your thoughts and structure your responses in a clear and concise way. This means you can further impress the interviewer by getting in additional examples for one question. It enables you to showcase your ability and demonstrate your Unique Selling Points (USP)!

How to Do It…

Job Description and Person Specification

Scan the Job Description and Person Specification of the role, then list the key elements of the role and identify key words that encapsulate each of the “Essential” and “Desirable” criteria. Keep these as short as you can. Once you have a list, begin to identify situations/examples and structure your responses.

The STAR Model

Against each of the key words/elements you have identified try and think of 2 (or even 3!) situations when you have demonstrated ability in each area. Using these situations, structure your responses as follows: 

Situation Set the scene.   Explain the situation you encountered.   It is important for the interviewer to engage and relate to your answer. Examples that are relevant to your potential employer are highly recommended.
Task Explain what part/role you took in the situation.
Action Explain the action you took to address the situation / perform the task. Ensure you are speaking only about you and avoid using “we” here.
Results Explain the outcome of your action i.e. how your work resulted in a positive outcome.  Close the loop!

Create a Bank of Examples

Further reduce your stress by creating a “bank” of examples, evidencing how you successfully demonstrated different competencies. Remember to close one STAR example before introducing the next. (E.g.  “ … A further example of XXXXXXX was when. ..”  (next Situation).

Competency based questions are a fantastic way to showcase your abilities and convince the interviewer that you are the perfect candidate!

No job description yet? Do some initial work. Here are some key competencies for you to consider:

  • Planning and Organising
  • Decision making
  • Motivation
  • Effective Communication
  • Responsibility
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Leadership and Management
  • Using initiative
  • IT skills and packages

Good luck!

This guest post was written by Karen Chubb, Professional Development Coordinator at the University of Cumbria. 

Top five interview tips to help you land that job!

Interviews can be scary, especially if you have never had one before. The most important thing to do before any interview is to make sure that you are well prepared. Take some time before your interview to research the company, prepare answers to common interview questions, and make sure that you have everything you will need on the day to hand.

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Tip 1: Research the Company

Ideally you will already have done some research before applying for the role, but if not, now is the time to do it! You don’t have to memorise all of their annual reports or become an expert on their products, but if you haven’t done any research at all, it will reflect poorly on you during the interview. You should aim to know something about the products and services they provide as well as a brief overview of their history – you can also search for news articles about them, for added points.

Tip 2: Plan Ahead

You will normally be told in advance the location of the interview, so make the most of this advance knowledge and plan your route to get there. Being late for the interview means getting off on the wrong foot at best, and will have a strong negative impact on your chances of getting the job. Aim to arrive around 10 minutes before the time stated on your invite to interview. Build in time in your route for traffic jams, roadworks, public transport issues and so on. Take a spare copy of your CV with you, as well as the job description, your application, and some information on the company. Then when you arrive early, you can read through your pack while you are waiting.

Tip 3: First Impressions

When you arrive for your interview, make sure you switch off your mobile phone (or at the very least make sure it is on silent with the vibrate turned OFF). Take some mints or chewing gum to freshen your breath, but make sure you finish/dispose of it before going into the interview – you don’t want to be crunching mints or chewing gum in your interview!

Tip 4: Be Confident and Enthusiastic

Confidence is one the most important traits to creating a positive impression. Smile, be courteous and address the interviewers by name whenever possible. Keep in mind that you have already impressed the employer enough with your application/CV for them to want to see you. This is no small thing considering the volume of applications most employers receive. Therefore, you have already made a positive impression on them. Your task at the interview is to allow the employer to learn more about you and to see if they like your personality. This is hard to do if you clam up with nerves so take some deep breaths and try to relax.

Tip 5: Follow-Up To Your Interview

After your interview, write to the employer and thank them for their time in seeing you – do this if you are offered the job or not. This will make sure that you stick in their minds as a polite and proactive candidate, and will also confirm to the employer that you are still interested in the position. Sometimes you might need to check a fact or clarify a point raised during the interview. You can use the follow-up email or letter to relay this information to them.

Post adapted from http://www.jobcentreguide.co.uk/job-interview-tips/23/job-interview-tips

An Introduction to Career Ahead

graduation - career ahead

What is Career Ahead?
It’s an employability award run by the University of Cumbria which enables you to develop your employability skills to get a good job when you graduate. You complete the award in your own time online through PebblePad, and it is a way to evidence your extra-curricular activity while at University.

Why should I complete the Career Ahead award?
Employers want graduates with good employability skills. They don’t just look at your degree; they want to find the candidate with the best skills for the job. According to High Flyers (2011): “new graduates who’ve not had any work experience during their time at university have little or no chance of landing a well-paid job”. Career Ahead allows you to evidence the skills you already have, develop those skills that you want to develop, crate effective employability tools such as cv and cover letter writing skills, interview skills and allows access to free workshops, both face-to-face and online. In short, Career Ahead enables you to be job ready when you graduate.

So what do I have to do?
The award is broken down into three elements: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze relates to personal development – completing a skills audit and a reflective diary to identify your career goals and skills gaps. Silver relates to skills development – you develop four employability skills, and undertake 100 hours of extra-curricular activity, as well as two online employability workshops. You also create a reflective diary of your progress in your web folio. Gold relates to career management and enables you to search for the job you want, create a targeted CV and cover letter or application form, and develop your web folio to evidence all your activity. Once you have completed and passed all 3 elements you will also have the chance to take part in a mock interview with an employer.

What workshops are available?
Some of the options include leadership, teambuilding, applications and CVs, interview skills, personal branding and mentoring.

What do I get at the end of the course?
Upon completion you will receive a University of Cumbria certificate, as well as having your web-folio evidencing your progress, skills and experience. Most importantly though you will have gained the skills you need to get the job you want!

What next?
Once you have completed the bronze silver and gold elements you can undertake the platinum award – you will complete and extra 50 hours of extra-curricular activity, mentor a bronze or silver student, as well as submitting a reflective diary of your progress. You will also get the chance to organise an event, share a skill, complete a placement or start up your own student enterprise!

Interested?
If you would like to find out more you can:
Come along to the Introduction to Career Ahead presentation today at the Fusehill Street campus (room LG101) at 4.15 pm.
Take a look at the Career Ahead areas on the University’s website or on BlackBoard (at the top of the page when you log in).
Email mailto: careerahead@cumbria.ac.uk to ask advice, find out more or register onto the award.