First impressions are crucial. From what you wear to what gestures you make, be assured, that people will take note. In fact, studies have found that non-verbal cues have over four times the impact on impression you make than anything you say. Here are some common non-verbal cues:
Arched Eyebrows – When we raise our eyebrows it means we are contemplating what we’re listening to and that we’re mildly intrigued.
Direct Eye Contact – Means we’re interested, we’re listening, and that we’re focused on you
Feet Facing Forward – It shows that your focused on the other person.
Positive/ Open Body Language
Akimbo Arms – Planting your hands with your thumbs backward on your hips and elbows out in a ‘V’ shape displays dominance and authority.
Mirroring – Mirroring someone’s body language means they’re interested in you and trying to build rapport.
Negative/ Closed Body Language
Shaking Your Legs – Means you’re anxious, scared or impatient.
Lowered Head – Means you’re ashamed of something, shy or have something to hide.
Squinting – When people see what they don’t like, feel threatened, or are unhappy, they squint their eyes.
Blinking Too Much – Means we are nervous or anxious.
Arms Crossed – presents a barrier and suggests an image of defensive, reserved and uncomfortable.
Common Non-Verbal Mistakes Made During an Interview
26% Have a weak handshake
21% Close their arms over their chest
33% Fidget too much
21% Play with their hair or touch their face
67% Fail to make eye contact
38% Don’t Smile
33% Have bad posture
Quick stats of first impressions
First impressions are formed within 7 SECONDS of meeting someone
In a survey of 2000 managers, 33% claimed to know whether or not they would HIRE someone within 90 seconds
80% of information people remember is Oral & Visual
In a study, researchers identified 5000 DISTINCT HAND GESTURES in humans
55% of first impressions are formed by your dress, act and walk through the door
38% of a person’s first impression is determined by TONE OF VOICE and just 7% The words you choose to say
65% Of hiring managers say that clothes can be a deciding factor between two similar candidates
Don’t let your clothes talk for you. Choose something neutral avoiding distractingly bright or coloured heavily patterned clothing
What they mean: Talk me through your CV and tell me how your experiences relate to this particular job.
They don’t mean: Tell me your life history, hobbies and interests and take 20 minutes to do so.
What they ask: 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.
They don’t mean: Please recite the first page of our website like everyone else and show you have done no original research.
What they ask: What skills do you have for this job?
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.
They don’t mean: List me over 20 skills and make sure 90% will not relate directly to the job.
What they ask: 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.
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.
What they ask: What is your main weakness?
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
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.
What they ask: 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.
They don’t mean: Please spend 20 minutes rambling about a story and with as much excess and unnecessary information as possible so that I forget the question.
What they ask: Why should we hire you?
What they mean: Give me a summary of your key skills and how they fit this position.
Prove your suitability and your passion
They don’t mean: Give me an arrogant answer that will negate anything good you have previously said.
What they ask: Do you have any questions?
What they mean: Ask me something original and relevant that shows you are serious
about wanting to work here. Prove you can use your initiative.
They don’t mean: Tell me I answered them all in the interview without saying what you had planned to ask.
More than……………years extensive and diverse experience in
Expertise and demonstrated skills in
Extensive academic/practical background in
Experienced in all facets/phases/aspects of Knowledge of/experienced as/in
Extensive training/involvement in
I like to….
I’ve been told….
ALWAYS use numbers and measure to quantify and prove your work.
Proficient/competent at Initially employed to/joined organisation to specialise in Provided technical assistance to Worked closely with Constant interaction with Promoted to Succeeded in Proven track record in Experience involved/included Successful/Proficient in/at Reported to In charge of Now involved in Familiar with Employed to Assigned to Edited Established/ Initiated Formulated Implemented Managed Instrumental in Coordinated/Organised Designed and developed Updated/upgraded Attained/awarded
Best of breed Go-getter Think outside of the box Synergy Go-to person Thought leadership Value add Results-driven Team player Bottom-line Hard worker Strategic thinker Dynamic Self-motivate Detail-oriented Track record
Mark Gallagher, Careers and Work Placement Consultant in Queen’s School of Biological Sciences offers an insight into graduate opportunities the Life Sciences Sector offers.
What is the Life Sciences sector?
The Life Sciences in the broadest sense can encompass study and work related to all living organisms and so can have a very broad definition which can range from agriculture to zoology (A-Z). The Life Sciences sector spans a huge variety of career areas, including, but not limited to, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, environmental management, food and nutrition and scientific research. Companies may be involved in areas including research and development, drug discovery, diagnostics, analytical testing and can range from small research intensive companies, with a small number of employees, right through to large multinationals employing thousands of people.
What kinds of careers options do Life Sciences students have?
Career areas are very broad in the life sciences – and at various levels, straight from a BSc qualification to roles that may require additional levels of qualification and up to PhD. Here are a few of the main areas of employment:
Research & development – The focus of research and development (R&D) is mainly on creating products, processes or commercial applications using innovative multidisciplinary approaches. R and D takes place in Universities but also in industry within smaller medical biotech companies or parts of companies tasked with process and product improvements. To work in R and D typically you are encouraged to further your level of qualification to at least MSc if not PhD level.
Quality assurance and product Manufacturing – Quality Assurance (QA) or Quality Control (QC) involves ensuring that products are manufactured in accordance with recommended standards, and requires analysing raw materials used initially through to finished products. Companies in the sector are highly regulated so Quality is key at all stages of production with a variety of repeat analytical tests being undertaken to ensure products are safe to use. Careers can also involve monitoring environmental factors like water and air quality for contaminants which could potentially impact on process or product quality.
Science Business roles – Opportunities for regulatory affairs officers are commonplace in the sector as are roles to develop new markets and business for products, or providing expertise and consultancy to support products – roles which don’t involve lab work but the understanding you gain from a science degree is essential to carry out the role effectively. Regulatory affairs officers ensure the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of products, and work with documentation and medicine approval authorities throughout the world. Products developed as a result of research and development will need to find markets in which to be sold – and that creates opportunities for science graduates to help develop those markets, by approaching health authorities and companies to explain the features and benefits of products developed – so if you are a science graduate who is keen to use your communication and persuasion skills this could be the route for you.
Clinical trials – All medicines must undergo clinical trials before they are granted licences. Scientists are involved in setting up trials to ensure that new products are safe for use. You could be involved in a variety of roles ranging from lab-based research, through to using data analysis programmes to analyse and interpret results, or managing and monitoring trials by visiting hospital sites and liaising with nurses and physicians to ensure the trials are running appropriately.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in building a career in this sector:
Be open to new things – at University your Careers Service will offer a host of opportunities which present an opportunity to try something new. This could be applying for periods of experience abroad, events that seek to attract students from all disciplines, career development programmes and classes that are optional to attend but specific to your degree. Get involved and set time aside outside your studies to develop skills and knowledge of options and the labour market – it’s never time wasted.
Focus on what you can control – you can’t control the unexpected such as COVID and the wider economic impacts. You can though control how you present yourself to employers and ensuring that your applications are at a high standard – giving yourself every opportunity to gain an entry level position. Use the expertise that exists in your Careers service to help with this.
Be smart and organised in your job search – you now have access to thousands of vacancies at your fingertips, but making online job applications can be tough. It’s better to make a small number of high quality applications rather than make multiple applications. Start to analyse job specifications thoroughly, look at the essential and desirable criteria for jobs of interest. For more experienced roles that grab your attention work out how you can address any skill and experience shortfalls. Speaking to people is also something I really encourage (don’t just email!) – whether that is people working in similar roles to those you are interested in, making enquiries directly to companies or attending career and networking events, these types of interactions can all help boost your confidence and also gain insights into what employers actually value in prospective employees – this in turn can help inform future job applications.
Attitude and approach are key – focus on developing your reputation for high quality work, reliability, integrity and being a good colleague to work and collaborate with. The skills and knowledge you take with you from University will be invaluable in understanding the areas you work in – but always continue to develop your skill set, the way we work is changing quickly – many employers value your attitude and willingness to learn equally as they do your knowledge and skills.
About the blogger:
I’m Mark Gallagher from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences. I work with three key groups of people – students, employers and academics. The key focus of my own role is the development of student employability from first year right through to Master’s level students. If you are a student looking to explore a career in the Life Sciences sector, don’t miss my blog featuring a Q&A of everything you have ever wanted to know about the sector.
I encourage students to develop themselves by undertaking work experience placements which form part of a degree programme, to get involved in some of the programmes that the Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills service run throughout the year as well as encouraging involvement in extra-curricular activities that help develop confidence and transferable skills (which are key for employers we work with).
I also work with a large number of employers throughout the year, these are typically employers who are interested in recruiting placement and graduating students from the School.
We run a very successful work placement programme within the School of Biological Sciences where each year our undergraduate students undertake a one-year placement as part their degree programme. Many of our students work in the Life Science sector locally and throughout the UK joining established employers big and small, as well as gaining experience with Biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies in ROI. In a typical year, 20% of students will move outside NI to gain experience, with many travelling internationally. All placements are quality assured to meet our course learning requirements and students and employers are visited during the course of a placement to ensure everything is progressing as anticipated.
We have 8 undergraduate programmes in the School which are quite different so it’s important to ensure our labour market information is current and conveyed to students ensuring they know what their options are. Students can also book one to one appointments throughout the year, and in recent months these appointments have moved online.
Two types of consultations are available – 30 minutes to discuss any aspect of your career management or 15 minutes to receive feedback on your CV or LinkedIn profile.
The aim of these consultations is to support you so that you can successfully manage your own career. As a result, students and graduates are limited to no more than 5 appointments per academic year. Most people use only 1 or 2 appointments in any year.
When should I start thinking about career management? It’s important to focus on your studies but the application processes for graduate schemes and taught postgraduate study start to open in the September/October of your final year. Many employers hire graduates that they already know through placements or internships, so it pays to start career planning sooner.
Am I on the wrong course? Many students have doubts about their subject choice at various times throughout their time at University. It’s important to be proactive in handling these doubts. Don’t just give up and stop attending! Targetjobs have some useful advice to help you understand the root of the issue and what to do next. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss career options related to different subject areas and speak to your Personal Tutor (if applicable) or Adviser of Studies if you are considering changing to a different course.
To turn this into a shortlist of career options, it’s important to consider what’s important to you in a career e.g. your motivations, the skills you enjoy using and where in the world you want to live.
Gain further insight into different roles and companies by attending Careers events.
How do I stand out from the crowd? – Get some international experience – read our Study / Work Abroad pages – Get some work/volunteering experience – see Careers Events – Gain accreditation for engaging in employability-enhancing activities through DegreePlus
I want to start my own business – QUBSU provides support to Queen’s entrepreneurial students and recent graduates – Opportunities for developing entrepreneurial skills can be found on the DegreePlus website
Our friends over at TARGETjobs have collated this list of tricky interview questions with tips on how to answer them. Read the full article here.
‘What is your most significant achievement?’
This question is designed to assess your values and attitude as much as your achievements, and employers often want you to talk about your activities outside education. You’re more likely to come across well if you choose to discuss something you’re genuinely proud of, which could be because it involved leading others, overcoming obstacles or persisting in the face of the odds.
‘What motivates you?’
You are particularly likely to be asked about your motivation in a strengths-based interview, which focuses on what you enjoy doing and what you do well. This is an approach that graduate recruiters are increasingly using alongside or instead of competency-based questions.
Your answer should draw on an example from your extracurricular activities, work experience or studies that suggests you would be strongly motivated by the job you are applying for.
‘Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.’
If an interviewer asks you to describe a situation in which you showed initiative, avoid giving an example of an idea you had but never put into action. It’s much better to talk about a time when you not only came up with a solution to a problem but also acted on it.
‘What is your biggest weakness?’
The problem with this question is that you’re being asked about your shortcomings, when your instinct, in an interview situation, is to keep your flaws as well hidden as possible. What you need to do is to frame your answer to as to give it a positive spin.
Strengths and weaknesses can be different sides of the same coin, so another way to approach this question is to think about how you overcome the potential downside of your greatest strength. For example, if you’re a natural teamworker, is it difficult for you to cope with conflict or assume leadership abilities? How do you cope with this?
‘Are you innovative?’
Graduates are sometime asked to give an example of when they were innovative, ‘thought outside the box’ or used creative thinking to solve a problem. Many graduates are concerned that their examples are just not innovative enough, but the interviewer won’t expect you to have given the prime minister tips on handling Brexit! Instead, talk about times when an idea from you had a positive impact: for example, if you came up with a fundraising idea for charity or found a way to save time on an assignment.
1. How to understand an organisation and how it creates value
When researching an organisation, you shouldn’t just look at what an organisation does, but how it does it; explore the activities and processes within an organisation. From the outside, two organisations may appear to be delivering equivalent services or products in the same way. They may have broadly similar suppliers and workforce sizes, their location and other large-scale features may even be comparable. Yet the costs incurred by processes inside these two apparently similar ‘black boxes’ may be vastly different. So, although what goes into each organisation and what comes out may seem pretty much the same, the ways in which they create value could be radically distinct.
2. How to understand an organisation’s value
An organisation is a machine for adding value. In its simplest form this means it takes an input at one value and, if successful, converts it to an output at a higher value.
The concept is seen most clearly in manufacturing, where raw materials are worked on to produce finished goods that customers value and are prepared to pay a premium for. Whilst the raw materials or components already had worth, the process of manufacturing added more value.
Commercial awareness means being aware of how change to one aspect of an organisation’s system can have disproportionate, far- and wide-ranging impacts on many other components.
3. Where you fit in in the value chain
The course mentions three components in the value chain:
creativity: coming up with a new product or process
manufacturing: churning out the product (this is the tangible part of the chain but it adds less value than you might think)
marketing, branding and advertising.
When it comes to applying for a position within an organisation, ask yourself
Does your role fit neatly and exclusively into one of these three stages?
In terms of a value chain are you closest to the ‘inputs’ or the ‘outputs’ of your organisation? (Roles close to the input end might be procurement, enquiries, goods received, etc., those nearer to the output end might be invoicing, delivery, after-sales services, etc.).
We talk of a value ‘chain’ – but to what extent does a linear chain (receiving work and passing it on, with added value) represent your work situation?
Reflecting on the above will help you demonstrate your commercial awareness to a potential employer.
If you haven’t heard already, all Queen’s students are being given the opportunity to take a course at Queen’s Language Centre for free in Semester 2 – all the details including how to apply can be found here. There are so many benefits to learning a new language. Here are just seven of them.
It Boosts Your CV
Having another language is seen as a major plus by employers, particularly in today’s global job market.
2. It’s Good for the Brain
The cognitive thinking and problem-solving skills required to learn a new language rivals Sudoku when it comes to giving your brain a workout.
3. It develops a global mindset
Learning a new language gives you a greater global understanding of the world and how it works.
4 It allows you to experience other cultures
Learning a new language exposes you to new cultures. You will have the chance to see new things from a different perspective and be able to connect with people across the world. You get to learn what’s fashionable within a culture, including music, style, history and literature. This, in turn, will help you grow as a person and appreciate things that you wouldn’t have noticed before.
5 It helps you multitask
Switching between languages outs extra demands on your brain – those that can manage it are better at multitasking and managing stress.