Swerve those interview nerves with careers adviser and former student / graduate recruiter Pablo Costa 

Swerve those interview nerves with careers adviser and former student / graduate recruiter Pablo Costa 

Interviews and presentations, presentations and interviews…these two activities cause more anxiety and stress to your typical student than pretty much anything else. Tell me if I am wrong, but what other academic activity keeps you from sleeping normally, or is an incessant thought in your head? 

You might say to me, Pablo…err, hello!… have you ever heard of assignment deadlines or exams?…and I would say pah!…you’ve faced those academic hurdles time and time again – and you certainly know what to do…you organise your time, you do your research, you structure your paragraphs and away you go. And to be honest, a presentation is more or less the same thing, except you present your findings verbally and obviously rehearse beforehand. And depending on your degree course, you’ve probably done a few presentations by now, so the nerves are no longer “Aaargh!” and more “ahh…ok…I’ve been here before, it’s not so bad.” 

So, that leaves us with interviews. Why do they make us so nervous? Well, when I was a graduate recruiter, I conducted focus groups (with over 200 candidates) post-interview and asked them that very question.

Here are the top three reasons and how we can mitigate them: 

“I really wanted the role so I was nervous” 

Squash those nerves by: 

● Understanding that it’s normal to be nervous. Guess what? Those interviewers were in the same position as you and they were nervous. So was I when I did my first few interviews, and so is everyone else. It’s okay. You’re human.

● Realising that you are not being judged on your nerves. There is no box on the interviewer evaluation sheet that states, “how often did the candidate say “err”?  or “how nervous did they look?” 

● Realising that, yes – you really want the job, but, guess what? Companies/organisations really want you, your skills and your potential. They are interested in you, why else would they have invited you to come in for an interview? They also know that you are looking at other companies/organisations, so they want you to see that they are welcoming and professional, which could be ultimately a reason why you choose them over your other options. 

“I don’t do interviews that often, so I wasn’t used to it” 

Squash those nerves by:

● Rehearsing every day for 2 weeks before the real interview by practising the intro questions, competency questions, and technical questions (if applicable) out loud. That way you can calm your nerves because you have done the interview 14 times before the real thing.  

● Making the above even more realistic by copying and pasting an image of an interviewer onto your screen and rehearse as if you were in front of real interviewers (sounds daft, but it works).

● Finding out if you are going to have a competency or a strengths-based interview (if it is a competency based interview, make sure you know about the STAR technique).

● Booking a mock interview with the Careers Centre.

“The surroundings affected me”  

Squash those nerves by: 

● Realising that the recruiters want you to get the job. It’s in their best interest that you do well.

● Getting used to surroundings: have a look online for pictures of the organisation’s offices to see what themeeting rooms could look like – sounds too easy…it is. Get your brain used to the furniture, walls, even what the interviewers might be dressed in. Let’s get your brain comfortable with external factors.

● Realising that the surrounding are just surroundings and that the interviewers are normally nice people. They aren’t trained to be horrible, but they are trained to not give away too much positive feedback/comments during the interview. We, as humans, however, are used to positive comments all the time so not experiencing this in an interview can feel unnatural.

What else can I do? 

Well, you could come along and learn more at my Strategies For Interview Nerves presentation on Tuesday March 28. You can find more details of this and how to book a place below: 

Class of 2020: Graduating During COVID – Marios Path of Perseverance and becoming a Digital Marketing Manager

Class of 2020: Graduating During COVID – Marios Path of Perseverance and becoming a Digital Marketing Manager

In this piece, we hear from 2020 MSc Consumer Analytics & Marketing Strategy graduate Mario Kolovos. Having submitted more than 350 applications before landing his current role, Mario talks to us about that post-graduation feeling and persevering through the job hunt. Read on to hear Mario’s thoughts about standing out in interviews and on making the most out of the support systems the University of Leeds has in place.

It’s difficult for me to write anything regarding my life after Leeds because people might get the wrong idea about their chances after graduating. Having this in mind, I want to be clear before you start reading this. This is a different story from what you might expect to find here. This isn’t a story about getting immediately accepted into a fancy big company or solving a big crisis somewhere in the world. This is mostly a story about not giving up.

I got accepted into the MSc Consumer Analytics & Marketing Strategy program for the 2019/2020 period. Until the first months of 2020, everything looked normal. My friends and I were trying to study as much as possible, talking about our future, going out, etc. However, everything changed because of the pandemic. The industry was heavily affected, there were almost no job opportunities, and we were all mentally challenged every day. Luckily, the University of Leeds supported us in any way possible by moving various networking opportunities online and by sharing tips about the new era that was about to begin.

After graduating, everything was very difficult for all of us. We were failing over and over again to land a job and we were starting to get worried that we would stay unemployed for a long period. Fortunately, all this started changing as all my friends started getting jobs. As for me, I was back in Greece submitting applications to pursue a Ph.D. in Consumer Behaviour and searching for jobs to return to the UK.

For a year and a half, I was getting continuously rejected. I submitted more than 350 applications and took part in more than 10 interview processes that all ended in failure. On the positive side, the interviewers highly valued the fact that I had an MSc degree from the University of Leeds that was focused on both analytics and marketing strategy. Furthermore, the Employability courses and my discussions with our Professional Development Tutor were perfect for developing my interview skills. Therefore, I frequently took part in the final step of any interview process and I was adequately prepared to answer any questions whether they were concerning analytics, marketing, or my previous experience.

The most important thing, though, was that my time at Leeds taught me resilience. In 2020, I had been through many changes. It was my first time moving out of my parents’ home and out of my country. Also, I had to face a pandemic, the lockdown, a dissertation, and search for career opportunities in a highly competitive environment. So I didn’t want to stop trying. I was sure that at the University of Leeds I had acquired the skills for the jobs that I was applying for, and I was looking forward to using them. I knew I was almost there.

I got a message from a very good friend of mine with whom we were studying together at the University of Leeds. She showed me three very attractive opportunities and I applied for all of them. I got the chance to be interviewed in all of them and one of them caught my attention.

Fortunately, the one that got my interest, was also the one that would be my first full-time job. Right now, I am very pleased to be working as a KTP Associate – Digital Marketing Manager at the University of Plymouth in partnership with Hanlons Brewery. I am currently building the strategy of the company, making good use of my degree and so my background in analytics has assisted me a lot. And so far, everything runs smoothly.

With this experience, I want to share two things. First, as a person who has been in too many interviews, I am happy to share that everyone held the University of Leeds in high regard. Second, I hope that no one needs this advice, but if you have faced failure over and over again during your job seeking, don’t give up. If you need support, ask for support from your loved ones or the University. There is always an end to this tunnel and I can assure you that it’s filled with joyous moments.

Class of 2020: How might COVID-19 affect my life post-graduation?

Class of 2020: How might COVID-19 affect my life post-graduation?

During this challenging time, you may be feeling uncertain about what life after graduation holds. In this piece, Aaliyah Farr, Employability and Progression Assistant, reflects on recruitment trends and how you can prepare for your future.

With uncertain times ahead, this graduation season seems challenging. The idea of entering the working world with the rising anxiety surrounding COVID-19 may have left you feeling slightly lost and concerned about how to navigate the graduate job hunt.

Here are a few tips to get you thinking about how you can prepare for your next steps:

Feeling lost or demotivated?

Start by reflecting on your strengths and brainstorming your skills. Do some research to explore areas you might be interested in – Prospects and Bright Network are good starting points. You can also refer to the LeedsforLifeskillsmap- this is a useful platform that can help you to articulate your unique skillset.

Read more