Queen’s Law graduate Norma Taggart just secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after a rigorous virtual recruitment process. Here is how she did it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the recruitment process as employers are forced to shift away from in-person interviews to online recruitment methods. Many businesses have had to quickly become accustomed to online recruiting by using video software and telephone interviews instead of the traditional styles of interviewing. This new approach to recruitment can be daunting to a student or graduate who has not been exposed to this process before.
However, if the idea of online recruitment intimidates you, I recommend viewing it as an opportunity to upskill rather than as a challenge. By going through the online recruitment process, I have learned how to use numerous video call software, such as Zoom and Bluejeans and have developed my ability to adapt to a changing work environment. As the world becomes more tech savvy and firms are transitioning to remote working, these technological skills will become highly sought after. Students and graduates that have a proficiency in software such as these will stand apart from the crowd.
I gained first-hand insight into this process as I have recently secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after completing their 6-week FinTrU Legal Academy. FinTrU is a multi-award winning financial services company that gives local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. The company conducted three stages of recruitment in order to fill the positions, thus I went through virtual recruitment as opposed to the traditional recruitment process. Although it was a daunting idea at first, I have learned valuable tips and tricks to nail a video interview and get the job.
How to Get the Interview and Succeed
The first step in succeeding in the virtual recruitment process is to utilise the Queen’s Careers team. The Careers Department have been an invaluable resource in preparing me for both recruitment and the world of work. The Careers Team support students and graduates with all aspects of career planning and decision making. They offer practical, tailored advice for every step of your career journey. My advice is to seek their help long before you need to start applying for internships, graduate jobs or placement.
I was fortunate enough to work as a student assistant in the Student Guidance Centre where I witnessed first-hand the amount of work that goes towards helping students get ready for the world of work. I took part in CV workshops and one-to-one CV sessions with experienced Career Consultants where I was able to tailor my CV to the industry I was applying to. Your CV is the first impression you make to an employer; therefore, it is important it is up to date and well laid out.
The Graduate and Placement Fairs organised by Queen’s Careers Team are an excellent source of information for students and graduates. I recommend going to as many as you can throughout your time at Queen’s as they give you insight into both the industries you are interested in and the ones you are not. For example, I did an undergraduate degree in Law which often has a very traditional career path associated with it. The Graduate Fair, alongside employer panels, insight days and employer presentations organised by the Careers team, allowed me to become more open-minded to different career routes available and develop my skill set beyond strictly legal skills. Therefore, when the opportunity arose for me to apply for a career in the financial services sector, I knew I was capable of adapting and succeeding as an analyst.
MyFuture also can act as a vital tool in your job search as it is constantly updated with new opportunities and it is where you can book Career Consultations with experienced members of the Careers Team. Participating in different employability programmes and events will make you more of a well-rounded candidate and show employers that you are not afraid to go outside your comfort zone. The Careers Team are there to help you in every stage of your job hunt, therefore I recommend taking advantage of their help as soon as possible.
Tips for Virtual Recruitment
The virtual recruitment process for the FinTrU Legal Academy consisted of an online application where you expressed why you want to work in the financial services sector and for FinTrU specifically. The second round of the recruitment was a telephone call and the final round was a video interview conducted over a software called Bluejeans.
I had never done a live video or telephone interview before. It was daunting as it is difficult to convey the same enthusiasm over a phone or webcam than when you meet the recruiter in person. Technology can also be temperamental so I was aware that a lot could go wrong. To combat these concerns, my top tip for the next student taking part in virtual recruitment is to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be and the more you can focus on the task at hand.
In preparation for the interview, get familiar with the job description and the specific skills they are looking for in a successful candidate. You can familiarise yourself with the company and its employees by attending graduate fairs, industry insight days and employer panels. Using the STAR method, identify times throughout your career where you have used or developed the skills in the job description. This will show the interviewer that you have a number of transferable skills that will benefit their company if you were to get the job.
On the day of the interview, log onto the software early to download it and test your internet connection. Confirm that your camera and microphone are working as soon as you agree to the interview. I made the mistake of waiting until it was time for the interview to click the link to join. I then had to download the software which made me stressed before the interview even began. The more you do to mitigate stress before the interview, the more comfortable you will feel.
Set up a space in your house where you will not be disturbed and ensure that the lighting is appropriate. If the interview begins and you realise that they cannot see you properly, this will put you on edge and you will lose your concentration on answering questions. If you are in a well-lit area without distractions, it will also show the hiring manager that you are professional and taking the interview seriously.
You should not memorise answers to questions as this will come across impersonal and rehearsed. One of the benefits of a virtual interview is that it allows you to have your CV and notes beside you. Utilise this to your advantage and have your preparation close by. Employers will go through your CV in depth so make sure you have it nearby so that you can reference it in answers.
Do not forget to dress to impress. Even though the interview is being conducted online, employers still expect you to look presentable and interview ready. This is good practice for when you get the job as clients and senior management will expect the same level of professionalism when you are working alongside them, whether that is online or in person.
One obstacle associated with virtual recruitment is that it can feel impersonal. It is difficult to express your enthusiasm for the job when it is over a webcam. You cannot shake the interviewer’s hand over a webcam; therefore, it is essential that you monitor your body language. It is important to sit up straight and look into the camera when speaking and not at the screen. Ask a friend or family member to run through possible questions with you over a Zoom call so that you can get feedback on both your answers and the impression you make with your body language.
Know your chosen employer inside out and stay up to date with the industry. I attended numerous employer panels where I was given the opportunity to ask questions about the world of work and the skill sets needed to succeed. I was told to stay informed with the industry I want to go into by reading the news, following relevant outlets on LinkedIn and keeping an eye on exciting developments in the area I was looking to qualify in. By doing this, you can display your enthusiasm for the industry by asking the interviewer relevant and informed questions.
Join Norma at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 22 Oct for more top tips.
Register here: https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events