This week’s blog post is a summary of Leeds student Hristina’s In Leeds Day experience focusing on what she’s learned from mock interviews and CV coaching sessions with Leeds graduate employers.
I recently participated in the ‘In Leeds’ day organised by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the three universities in Leeds. The day was an amazing opportunity to meet students and employers from Leeds and has convinced me that Leeds is a great place to stay after graduation.
As a part of teams of 8, we had to come up with an innovative way for companies to retain talent in Leeds. We then had to present our idea to a panel of professionals from companies such as PwC, Sagar Wright, FDM Group, Sky Betting and Leeds City Council. Presenting in front of over 70 people was a daunting experience but I’m more than pleased to say it went well and I was lucky enough to be on the winning team.
As a prize, employers offered CV checks, mock interviews and coaching sessions to the winning team which was amazing of them to do.
Mock interview at DWP
I did a mock interview at DWP which was particularly useful because it was structured the way a typical interview for their graduate scheme would be. It was an excellent opportunity to practice both strengths-based, and competency-based questions with a panel of two interviewers. I then got detailed feedback on my answers about each of the key competencies they were looking for. It’s great to hear first-hand what an interviewer is looking for in an answer, especially to strengths-based questions (eg. ‘Does adapting come naturally to you?’ ‘Do you like people to know how you’re feeling, or do you prefer to keep your feelings to yourself’).
Doing mock interviews is a great way to prepare yourself for the real deal, especially if you’re generally nervous about interviewing. The Careers Centre offers mock interviews, so make sure you take the opportunity to practice. A particularly useful tip I was given at DWP was, to interview a friend and see what it’s like to be in the position of the interviewer rather than the interviewee. This exercise will give you some useful insight on what would make a good or bad impression on a recruiter eg. body language, phrases, length of your answer etc.
Interview + CV coaching at FDM group
I also went to the FDM Group offices for CV and interview coaching. This was valuable because it gave me some pointers on how to structure my CV better. A useful tip I got was to keep the text in my CV concise, and well structured. Because recruiters are faced with lots and lots of applications, if it takes more than a few seconds to find key skills/competencies/experience, this will damage your chances of getting to the next stage. Based on this, I reduced the amount of text I had on my CV to make it more concise and converted it from skills-based to traditional.
An interview tip I got was to take it slow when answering questions – if you have a drink in front of you, pause, take a sip and then proceed to answer the question. This method works well because answers don’t seem rehearsed, and because it gives you some time to think through your answer. Pausing for a moment and thinking an answer through will not be held against you by the interviewer, it can actually make a good impression.
The entire In Leeds experience was more than useful – it provided me with great first-hand insights and experience, and of course convinced me that there are so, so many opportunities in Leeds. I’d recommend taking advantage of CV checks and mock interviews here at the Careers Centre before next year’s In Leeds event (or making any applications), and of course taking this excellent opportunity next year.