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Career planning competencies Employers GradFest2020 Interviews STAR

4 Ways to prep for a job interview, according to our career experts

This four-point interview prep checklist has been put together by our awesome Careers Team to help you nail that all-important job interview.

1. Cover the basics

Be in the right place, at the right time

Make sure you know who you are meeting, when and where. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people mess up the logistical details of job interviews – either by miscalculating the time it will take to get to the interview location and arriving late or by noting the time or location down incorrectly. Confirm the date, time and location, along with your attendance when you respond (promptly) to the interview invite. Avoid awkward introductions my memorising the name of the person you are meeting.

If it’s a video, skype or phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet location that has a good connection.  For video or skype, make sure that your surroundings and the clothes you are wearing look professional.

For more tips on virtual interviewing and assessment  centres, check out our Masterclass on the GradFest2020 site.

2. Do your research

Employee testimonials can give you a feel for company culture

Look up the company’s website, paying particular attention to their mission, strategy and values – try to weave these into any answers you give about why you want to work for the organisation. Learn who their clients/customers are and who their competitors might be. Don’t just look at what a company says about itself (many employers provide company information via MyFuture), but what employees and past employees say about them. Review sites such as Glassdoor allow you to read what employees say about the company culture as well as interview experience. 

Take time to investigate what is going on in the relevant industry and how that impacts upon your prospective employer.

For top tips on how employers are navigating the post COVID-19 workplace, check out our Masterclass on adapting to the changing world of work.

3. Know what job you are applying for

Research what you’ll be doing and who you’ll be reporting to

Read and re-read the job description so you can refer to it in your interview answers. Look at the company website for more role information and how that fits in the structure of the organisation. Look for networking opportunities to speak to people in the company or the industry.

Our LinkedIn Masterclass has loads of tips for networking online. 

4. Sell yourself

You are awesome – you just have to show them how

Once you have an understanding of the organisation and the role for which you are interviewing, think about your key selling points and how they relate to this job. Evidence with examples each of the elements in the person specification.
It can be useful to use a mind map to remind yourself of elements from your degree, your extra-curricular activities and your work. Or to use a timeline for the last few years to draw out the key milestones and what you gained from them. Pay attention to the things you really enjoyed and the challenges you overcame.
Use this evidence to prepare STAR-formatted answers for each of the skills elements in the person specification.

Check out our employability skills resources for key skills employers are looking for and how you can develop them.


Categories
Alumni Events Networking

GradFest2020: Valuable lessons from previous graduates

Our alumni session at GradFest2020 gathered together four successful graduates who told Rachael Corridan about the career lessons they’ve learned since leaving Queen’s. Here is what they had to say.

“Every rejection is a learning experience”

Niall McLaughlin, kdb+ developer, AquaQ Analytics

“I studied Chemistry at Queen’s and obtained valuable skills such as analytical skills, great communication skills, problem solving and adapting to new challenges. After graduation, I spent some time working as a chef, this was extremely beneficial as it’s placed me in a high pressure environment where time, teamwork, efficiency and multitasking were all critical to the day to day tasks. These experiences have helped me grow as a person and I now feel fully equipped to handle anything life throws at me. 

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you will get there. I had a non-traditional route to a grad job, which taught me a lot of transferable skills. Take every rejection as a learning experience and learn to be the best version of yourself.”

“Develop your soft skills until you find the right job”

Jack McCloskey, Seagate

“I graduated Mechanical Engineering in 2019. On the back of my placement, I did an employer project with Seagate. After graduation, I developed soft skills through part-time jobs, volunteering, interview skills and travelling until a graduate job eventually came up. There are good and bad points about working in your placement company. You are familiar with the working environment, but you are straight in the deep in working with senior management.”

“Working as part of a team is so important”

Zachery Jordan, First Deriviatives

 “Make the most of the transferable skills you have gained from part-time jobs; it’s so important to work as part of a team and be coherent in the ideas you are putting across.” 

“Explore your options; squeeze every opportunity”

Michael Kelly, IBM London

 “There will never be a graduating class like this one, but the world will not pass you by. Explore your opportunities. I missed the big four application deadlines as I was studying abroad, so I got a job in recruitment with a high basic salary, but it wasn’t the career for me. It served as a launchpad to where I am now. Squeeze as much out of any opportunity.” 

“You don’t just graduate and get picked up by an employer, you have to be proactive; I opened myself to more graduate opportunities by looking in London. Take time to explore your options and find something you love. Throw yourself into everything you are asked to do in the workplace, even if a project doesn’t feel exciting, look at what you can learn from it.”

Skills our grads advised you to develop:

  • Discipline and proactivity
  • Good self-learning habits
  • Good routine
  • Make us of DegreePlus

Want to hear more from our inspiring alumni? Join our Virtual Networking Evening with Guest Alumni Speakers

 When: June 22 at 6pm

Join here: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/54/y1010b7g

Categories
Employers GradFest2020 Interviews Job Hunting

Gradfest2020: Skills that will make you shine in the post Covid-19 workplace

During our live online session, employers from Almac, TLT, Deloitte and Citi as well as our very own Claudine Sutherland, discussed the skills that recruiters are looking for now more than ever. Here is what they’ll be assessing you on:

A Customer-Focus

“A customer focus, a strive to exceed expectations, a high standard of work, the ability to follow standard procedures of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and to lead by example – what I mean by that is to be a positive role model amongst your peers.” –  Frances Weldon, Almac

Communication

“Communication is a key skill employers look for and the foundation on which you build other skills. Think about the most appropriate way to communicate, smile, feel the fear and embrace it, be honest.” –  Frances Weldon, Almac

Teamwork

“It’s important that you foster teamwork with colleagues; get to know them. Pick up the phone, use Skype or Teams, instead of an email. These are skills I know Queen’s graduates already have from using Canvas, the university’s online learning platform, and from communicating upwards to lecturers” – Frances Weldon, Almac

Critical-Thinking

“Use the job-specific knowledge you already have, either from work experience of from hobbies or sports and apply it to the work force. Show you can be a critical thinker with good problem-solving skills.” – Frances Weldon, Almac

Organisation

“Brush up on industry jargon, understand what the job entails. Organisation is pivotal, take notes, devise training matrixes with mentors, learn from mistakes, build a network and contacts and work on your Microsoft Office skills.  – Keith Barkley, Citi

Hard Work

“When it comes to progressing in big organisations, hard work is key” – Keith Barkley, Citi

Attitude

“Attitude and motivation is 70% of it, being willing to learn and adapt is vital; Covid-19 is a prime example. If you have the right attitude, we can work with you to fill the experience gap. Self-awareness and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important. Play to your strengths, you can’t do everything. In a team, acceptance and tolerance is key.” – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte

Flexibility

“Flexibility is important. Graduates often think they need to stick to one clear career path. We like to see people who have done something different and got a broad range of experience. Be flexible. Look for opportunities wherever they come up.”” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP

Commercial Awareness

“We employ people with a knowledge of the commercial world; that’s not just about reading the Financial Times, it’s about having an opinion on those matters. One of the top things we look for is a commercial awareness and client focus, so understand the business you are in and what you can bring to clients.”  Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP

Self-awareness

“Take ownership, be self- aware, know your limitations – employers will provide mentorship and will support your transition to the workplace. Think of your wellbeing, when it comes from self-awareness, it’s about recognising when you need support and take that support when its offered.” – Frances Weldon 

Integrity

“If you are in a role that genuinely interests you, you will perform better, learn faster and progress more quicker, so play to your strengths. Integrity is a massive factor, being honest in your work. If there are challenges, knowing about it is important so we can fix it. Lastly, supporting your colleagues in the firm. We are all working to the same objectives, play to your strengths and help others where they need help. – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte

Shared Values

We assess recruiters by our six leadership standards, the three main ones being 1. Drives value for clients – that comes back to how everyone pulls together as a team; 2. Champions progress – embracing change, and lastly, 3. Lives our values – treat people with dignity and respect – Keith Barkley, Citi

Missed this session? Join our live employer Q&A June 18th at 11.30 am Gradfest2020  

Categories
Employers GradFest2020 Interviews Job Hunting

5 things we learned about virtual recruitment from the first day of GradFest2020

Employers from EY and Pinsent Masons and our own Mary McLaughlin offered top tips to nail that online interview or assessment centre.

  1. Tech can be glitchy

Check your wi-fi in advance and have a back-up plan in place in case of technical difficulties (e.g. your phone as well as a laptop). Also pause before and after you speak to avoid that awkward moment when you talk over your interviewer. Another top tip was to access Teams via Chrome rather than Safari.

2. Your appearance is not the only aesthetic on show 

Virtual Background

Just like in a regular interview, you need to make sure you look professional (sit up straight and make eye contact), but our panel said you also need to consider your background too. Avoid a wardrobe bulging with clothes behind you. Find a well-lit, neutral space in your house – somewhere quiet that you won’t be disturbed by noisy family members!

3. Ask the right questions

Excellent Question GIF | Robert Downey Jr

You know that moment at the end of an interview when they ask you if you have any questions? Always have some questions up your sleeve, ideally about the company goals and values. Remember in a virtual interview, you won’t get shown round the office, so ask something that will help you decide if a company is right for you. NB: Now is not the time to talk about perks like holidays and salary.

4. Virtual assessment centres follow a similar format to IRL

 

Just like in a real-life scenario, virtual assessment centres comprise of ice breakers via Teams, group exercises and individual numerical and written exercises. Top tip for group exercises: make sure you contribute and make your ideas heard. Jump in with solutions but don’t take over.

 5. Prepare as much as you can

the OC Summer I have a plan ANIMATED GIF

Have a pen and paper to hand during the call – you can practice maths skills online via jobmi.com. Better yet, log on to MyFuture to take a mock video interview that you can record and watch back. Sounds cringe, but when you notice your weird tics (avoiding the camera, overuse of ‘umms’ and ‘errrrs’) you can correct them before the real deal.  

Missed today’s session? You can re-watch in your own time at Gradfest2020  

Join our next live session on June 18th at 9.30 am and find out how LinkedIn could be the ace up your sleeve. 

Categories
Events GradFest2020 Humour Interviews

5 Tweets that will make you so thankful for GradFest2020

Nightmare interviews are pretty common – just ask these hilarious Twitter users who shared their experiences online after Twitter user Harriet Williamson asked her followers to recount their worst recruitment stories. Thankfully, recordings of our live Gradfest2020 sessions on acing online interviews and assessment centres are available to watch when you need them so you can avoid similar mistakes.

  1. The panic run

2. The hungover handshake

3. The storage cupboard

4. The coffee table

5. The accidental porkie

Avoid ending up an embarrassing Twitter lesson and access essential graduate job-hunting and interview tips and resources via qub.ac.uk/GradFest2020

Categories
Alumni Events Networking

How networking can land you your dream job

Ahead of our online Career Networking Evening on June 22 at 6pm – 7.20pm, we look at four ways our alumni network can help you navigate the global job market.

1. Our alum understand what makes big bosses tick

You have probably seen the term ‘commercial awareness’ in job descriptions, but what does it mean? And how do you acquire it? This skill is all about knowing what makes an organisation or industry tick. If you can show a prospective employer that you understand what they want to achieve and the challenges they are facing in the marketplace, you’ll impress. 

Alumni in industry can help you read the room in an industry or organisation and get a handle on organisational goals. Take Queen’s Psychology Graduate Tessa Breslin. In her role as Managing Director and Head of Americas at YSC Consulting, Tessa partners with leaders and organisations around the world to enable them to direct their drive and create transformational change. 

Tessa will be joining our Networking event live from New York, so you’ll have the opportunity to get an insight into what drives the leadership of some of the major blue chip client companies she has worked with. 

2 You’ll benefit from their connections

Growing your professional network is a great way to advance your career, industry knowledge and confidence. As a Queen’s graduate, you can draw on the experience and connections of our network of more than 200,000 alumni around the world. Each of those alum will in turn have built up a contacts book of trusted friends, colleagues and clients. 

Since Fergus Boyd left Queen’s with a BSc and PhD in Electronic Engineering, he has worked as VP/IT Director for five-star boutique luxury hotel brand Red Carnation, and VP Digital & IT for millennial hotel chain YOTEL. Prior to that, he held senior IT and digital roles in British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which both involved leading mobile and digital initiatives and delivering innovation programmes. He is now Chief Technical Officer at MindSauce, a start-up that aims to become the world’s leading platform for global micro-consulting. 

He brings to our Networking event, a unique perspective on the shift towards remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

3. They know what employers are looking for

Who better than a recruiter to get an insight track on what employers are looking for? Jordan Hendricks is a Recruitment Executive at First Derivatives, a software and services company.  

With a Master’s in Business Administration (International MBA) from Queen’s and significant global PR and marketing experience, Jordan is well placed to advice graduates on the recruitment landscape and the impact of COVID-19 on the future of hiring. She joins our networking evening to discuss the long and short term impact of the COVID-19 crisis. 

4. They can offer a world view

Our alumni span the globe and their combined knowledge and connections ripple across the international job market. Since leaving Queen’s with a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, Binod Maitin gained significant experience as a Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Diageo (United Spirits) and as Head of Analytical Research at the Shriram Institute For Industrial Research. He is now an Independent Technical Consultant at  FlavorActiV and Chief Technology Officer at Trillium Beverages Pvt.Ltd.  He joins our networking event from India to offer insight on his own personal career journey and the evolving global labour market.

Register for our career networking event

Current students can register here:

For more information, visit the GradFest2020 site

Categories
CVs Interviews Job Hunting

8 Common interview questions decoded

Queen’s Careers experts explain what an employer really wants to know when the ask these common interview questions.

Q: Tell me about yourself 

What they mean:

Talk me through your CV and tell me how your experiences relate to this particular job. 

What they don’t mean:

Tell me your life history, hobbies and interests and take 20 minutes to do so.

Q: What do you know about the company?

What they mean:

Are you up to date with what our company is currently doing, our main successes and where we plan to go in the future. Prove you want to work here.

What they don’t mean:
Please recite the first page of our website like everyone else and show you have done no original research.


Q: What skills do you have for this job? 

Funny Man GIF - Funny Man Interview GIFs

What they mean:

Give me a summary of your top three skills and make sure you’ve taken them from the Essential Criteria. Prove you know the job. 

What they don’t mean:
List me over 20 skills and make sure 90% will not relate directly to the job. 

Q: What is your main strength?

What they mean:

Pick something from the Essential Criteria that you believe to be most relevant to the position and give me an example of how you have used it. Prove you can match your skill to the job.

What they don’t mean: 

Tell me something totally unrelated to the job and don’t explain it. Or tell me the heaviest weight you can lift in the gym.

Q: What is your main weakness? 

tumblr_neu8mzif8w1qeby93o1_250

What they mean:

Tell me about something work related you struggle with and how you have been taking steps to overcome this. Show me you are proactive and looking  to progress. Prove you have self-awareness 

What they don’t mean:

Tell me something critical to the job that you can’t do or that you have no weaknesses. Or tell me about a health condition you have. 

Q: Can you give me an example of a time when….

What they mean:

Talk me through a practical, relevant example that will show me you have experience in this area. Tell me the Situation and set the scene, explain the Task, detail Action and what YOU

did then tell me the Result (STAR). Prove you can transfer your previous experience to this job.

What they don’t mean:

Please spend 20 minuthteesmrawmobrlikngto find it. about a story and with as much

excess and unnecessary information as possible so that I forget the question.

Q: Why should we hire you? 

MRW I am updating my resume

What they mean:

Give me a summary of your key skills and how they fit this position. Prove your suitability and your passion.

What they don’t mean:

Give me an arrogant answer that will negate anything good you have previously said. 

Q: Do you have any questions?

What they mean:

Ask me something original and Do you have any questions? relevant that shows you are serious

about wanting to work here. Prove you can use your initiative.

What they don’t mean:

Tell me I answered them all in the interview without saying what you had planned to ask.

For more top tips on interviews and graduate job hunting, download GradGuide2020 via the GradFest2020 site.

Categories
Career planning Global Opportunities Leadership

Q & A: What Happens During Queen’s Career Development Programme in NYC?

Film & Theatre Making student Christian Green spills everything you wanted to know about Queen’s Career Development Programme in NYC.

What inspired your trip to New York?

I applied for the Career Development Programme to NYC because, as a film student, I have long considered the option of moving to America post-graduation. The trip appealed to me because of the focus on developing skills and personal traits that employers look for, like confidence, communication and professionalism. It also promised to help us to develop a, “global/cultural awareness”, and despite me being to America with my family on multiple occasions, I had not yet developed that awareness of America’s business landscape and what it is like to network and put yourself forward as a young business professional in that kind of environment. I was more than interested in the diverse range of pre-planned company visits and also the specific visit of going to meet a BAFTA winning filmmaker.

What were the highlights of the experience?

On a personal level, my top highlights of the trip would have to be:

Meeting with filmmaker Marcus Robinson at the World Trade Center and receiving an open invitation to come and work with him post-graduation.

Seeing the city for the first time. The hike I did on my own through Manhattan (visiting most of the iconic locations within the city as well as iconic film locations).

Going to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

The Queen’s Alumni Networking Evening where I had the privilege to speak in front of past Queen’s students from all fields and generations.

Last, but certainly not least, getting to meet such a diverse and wonderful group of Queen’s students whom I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with. Everyone was able to take a lot away from the programme and we all made memories and developed friendships that will last us a lifetime.

What was the most surprising thing about the experience?

What surprised me the most whilst in New York was the fact that the world of business (whether that be corporate or commercial), even within a large city like New York, is not as intimidating as it is made out to be. When people think of business in its stereotypical form (briefcases, suits and all), we all instantly picture the elite, the select few. Who handle money and have careers that some of us could only dream of. My main observation from one meeting to the next during the visit was that this is not the case at all. Yes, you do need to have certain qualifications, a specific work ethic and can-do attitude in order to succeed but once you are in, everyone is just like you. Most of the people who spoke to us were either Queen’s alumni or natives of Ireland or Northern Ireland and because of that, they interacted with us all on a very personal level. They wanted to hear about us and what we studied and aspired to do just as much, if not more, than they wanted to talk about themselves and their companies/success stories. Even some of the CEOs that we met, who initially seemed quite intimidating and powerful, were not that much different from the nine of us seated around the table. They simply worked hard, dreamed big and made the right decisions when the opportunities came along. As sung by the legendary Frank Sinatra, “If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere”, and that just about sums up the world of success and professional business within New York; if you can get your foot in the door and be heard, the possibilities are endless.

In what ways has the trip been life-changing?

For myself personally, the key life-changing piece of information that I learned from the programme is that “corridor vision” can narrow down your career options and that ultimately, you can tailor your own future for yourself. For the people who are maybe are not so sure of what they want to do or they are open to the idea of alternatives, at each and every company in New York we were told in some shape or form, “If you come from a university like Queen’s with a good degree (no matter what field), that shows a certain kind of determination and aptitude to learn”. And with that, the opportunities for post-graduates who simply have the confidence to make the move and the determination to succeed are almost endless. Whether it be the likes of internships at KPMG or Moet Hennessy or the TwitterU programme, your degree does not tie you down to one door at the end of the corridor, one job. Do not become so fixed on this one role that you ignore all of the other opportunities that present themselves to you along the way.

In what ways did the trip enhance your CV?

In terms of my CV, the trip helped me add the credibility of being a Global Ambassador for Queen’s but also helped me to develop a lot of my own skills which I can now list with confidence such as public speaking, team work, team leading, presentational skills, organisational skills and professionalism. It really did open my eyes to what it is going to take for me personally to go out to the States and take in the culture shock but also adapt to it.

Discover more about the career development programmes at Queen’s

Discover more Global Opportunities at Queen’s

Categories
Career planning Leadership

7 Ways to Get Involved with Careers at Queen’s

Peter Moor, BA English graduate lists seven ways to get involved with the Careers Service at Queen’s.

Trips

This has to be the best bit about the careers service – the different trips on offer!  I went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York and Washington D.C as part of the Global Leadership Programme. For just £250, we went away for a week to learn leadership skills and all about the future of work. Each year, around 30 students go on the trip to a different exotic destination so this year it’s Toronto. There are also different trips to the likes of Germany, Brussels and London – all of which give you invaluable experience of what it’s like to work in different places across the world.

CV clinics

To get any form of work placement or graduate job, you’re going to need a mighty fine CV. The careers service offers regular CV clinics to make sure your CV is the very best it can be. These are free and have been so useful for me gaining different work placements. They’ll even have a nosey at your LinkedIn profile, making sure it is up to scratch.

Interview Practice

When you’re going for that graduate job, the likelihood is you’ll be put through your paces with a range of interviews. A good way to gain confidence in this area is to meet with one of the careers consultants to give you some hints and tips! Also, the Student Guidance Centre, where the careers services are based, have a room available if you ever need to do a video interview by webcam.

Careers Fairs

If you have no idea what area you want to go into then the Careers Fairs are perfect. Every few months, you’ll find a fair with representatives from all the big graduate employers. It’s a great opportunity to network with the people that you could one day be employing you! They’re also really good for finding work placement opportunities. A lot of degrees now include a paid year out in industry so these fairs are the best way to find the company you want to spend a year working with.

Social Media

One way to get involved Queen’s Careers service is to follow them on their social media on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn. You’ll find tonnes of useful advice and reminders for any events coming up. As a student, you’ll also have access to their online portal MyFuture to book onto any careers related event.

On-Campus Jobs

On the MyFuture portal, you can find lots of different part time jobs on offer at Queen’s. These range from being a campus tour guide and student ambassador (my job!) to helping with catering on campus. All of these roles are really flexible so if you have exams or assignments due, then you don’t have to do any work if you don’t want to. It’s also a good source of income to top up that student loan.

Categories
Leadership

5 Ways Queen’s Careers team can change your life

Shing Him Mak, LLB Law, on how he’s used the Queen’s Careers service.

1.They’ll make sure your CV and Linked in profile are on point

Have you ever struggled to write a CV? Do you know what to put and what not to put in your CV? Do you know what HR managers are looking for in a CV?

Queen’s has a number of experienced career consultants who are always willing to check your CV. At most career fairs, you’ll find them at the booth near the entrance to provide a quick CV check service for you. You can also book a CV check slot online through Queen’s Career website any time.

2.They can help you formulate a career plan

Throughout your time at Queens, you may have different thoughts about your future career. Whether you’re applying for an internship, or you want to start up a business, the careers team are here to help. In my experience, Queen’s career consultants are very experienced and professional, and they can answer any career query you might have.

If you are struggling with career options, or any career related matters, book a consultation slot online through the careers website.

3.They have a direct line to major firms 

The employability team organise massive career fairs where almost all of the big firms are represented. Some firms even conduct their interviews on campus. If you want to know more how to get into your dream firm, or want to know more about the firms that can help when it comes to making key career decisions, then I would suggest you go to the fairs and talk to the firms. It is also a great chance to network, which you may find useful when it comes to the dreaded job applications.

4.They can hook you up with key employers

Many employers will have outreach programme where they will visit Queen’s campus and organise workshops for students. The most common workshops I have seen are CV workshops, communication skills workshops and employability skills workshop. If you have spare time, then you should definitely go to one these sessions.

5.They can take you on a life-changing journey

I’d say this may be the best part of Queen’s career service. I took part in the Global Leadership Programme, in which I got an opportunity to travel to the USA for a seven-day leadership training course at a discount price. They run a lot of programmes throughout the year, such as the London Law / Finance Tour, City Scholarship Programme and Brussel Study Tour among others.

It is never too early to plan for your future. And remember, with Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills team, you are never alone in shaping a better future for yourself.