Posted: Friday 15th February 2019
Interviews can be scary - especially when you've not had many opportunities to practice. Sabrina Areosa, currently in her second year of BSc Sports Science with Business, explains how our recent INTERVIEW-a-thon event helped her overcome interview nerves.
Something that has always terrified me is the notion of a job interview. When I heard about the INTERVIEW-a-thon happening on campus I thought that it was the last thing I wanted to do.
I’ve spent a lot of my time at Brunel applying to various jobs, both on and off-campus and I’ve also taken part in three sports teams, societies and volunteering. After many nights spent updating my CV and sending out applications, I think it is safe to say that I have learned how to write a CV backwards.
But, with my placement year coming up, I really I need to get better at the next (slightly scarier) step - INTERVIEWS.
Giving it a go
Shy, nervous and inexperienced were all words that I believed described me perfectly so I wasn't too keen on signing up for the INTERVIEW-a-thon just to have this confirmed. However, I have found that doing things that scare you are often the things that help you grow the most and so, as intimidated as I was, I decided to give it a go. The event included a training session, two workshops and sit-down interviews. During the training session, the PDC staff gave us a simple structure for answering questions and specific tips. We then attended a workshop on what employers want and learning how to sell yourself. This was particularly useful to me because it gave me the tools to learn more about what employers are looking for in this situation. It also enabled me to think more about who I am, what makes me valuable and most importantly, understand how to deliver that in an interview.
On the day, I took part in two interviews, one with a project analyst from Capgemini and the other led by a graduate scheme director at Heathrow. Each interviewer had a different style of questioning and a unique character. This meant that I could practice giving responses to competency-based questions, and then scenario-based ones, while talking to two distinct personalities; one relaxed and conversational, and the second being serious and professional.
Following the interviews, I received verbal and written feedback from each employer detailing areas for improvement. The employer from Capgemini gave me a few tips on how to better answer specific questions, on maintaining my LinkedIn profile, and finally some useful advice and website recommendations for finding placements. He also encouraged me to follow him on LinkedIn and get in contact should I need further advice... Ladies and gentleman, I believe what happened there is known as ‘networking at its finest’.
During my second interview, I was thrown by almost all of the questions. At one point, I think I even stared blankly past my interviewer's head for what felt like 30 minutes.
Fortunately, my interviewer guided me with follow-up questions which helped me understand the things I should talk about. She explained that in a real interview, the employer is unlikely to guide you. Following our discussion, she congratulated my performance, highlighting my confidence, eye-contact, calm demeanour, and my smile; all qualities I had previously believed to be non-existent within me by the way! What I found most useful was that the interviewer highlighted the points that I should talk more about, helping me identify the specific experiences and personality traits that would set me apart from other candidates.
Open some doors
Walking out of those interviews, I felt I could tackle any interview that came my way. It was so reassuring to hear such positive and constructive feedback from such high-profile employers.
I was so glad that I took the time out of my busy schedule to attend because what I learned in those four hours was game-changing and I intend to take it all with me going forward. The event demystified each and every aspect of interviews that I used to worry over. It also showed me that I am not as weak in some areas as I previously thought. Most importantly, however, it taught me a great deal about myself, my career, employers and most significantly; what I need to do next to further my career. So, keep a lookout for these events and next time: give it a go! It will definitely be worth it!
The PDC will be organising more INTERVIEW-a-thons in the future, so check our events page and follow us on Instagram , Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates. Remember, you can also make an appointment with your careers consultant or placement adviser to get advice on interview preparation or to arrange a mock interview. For interview and application advice straight from our experts, go to our Careers Pick 'n' Mix playlist on YouTube