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Gradfest 2021: Body Language

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 

For more top interview prep tips, visit our website

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advice interview interview tips Interviews

Gradfest 2021: Interview Questions Decoded

Question 1

What they ask: Tell me about yourself

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.

Question 2

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.

Question 3

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.

Question 4

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.

Question 5

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.

Question 6

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.

Question 7

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.

Question 8

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.

For more interview tips, please visit the Careers, Employability and Skills website.

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interview interview tips Interviews Mock Interviews Virtual interviews

Five Interview Questions to Practise on the MyFuture Mock Interview Tool

Question 1: Tell me a little about yourself?

This is a very open question but it is important to be succinct in your answer. Focus on the key points you want to make about yourself.

 A starting point might be ‘I am currently a level two History student, I chose History because I really enjoyed the subject and knew that the course would further develop my communication and analytical skills and I believe these skills are useful for lots of different jobs roles.’ When interviewing for a specific job, you would cite skills that you feel you have/can evidence and are relevant to the job role

 You might then go on to talk about what you do in your spare time/extracurricular activity (if interesting or appropriate) or elaborate a bit more on your degree. If you have a part time job or have undertaken any voluntary work then again this is a good opportunity to mention them briefly.

 In many ways this questions allow you to provide a brief summary of your CV. The important point though is to draw out the skills you have gained from experiences and relate them to the job role. You might want to end by expressing your interest in the position you have applied for, having already showcased the skills you have that relate to the role.

Question 2: What skills and abilities do you have which you believe make you a good candidate for the position you are interested in? 

In answering this question it is vital to show a good understanding of the position you have applied for (your pre-interview preparations in reviewing the job and person specification will be important in helping you to answer this type of question). 

 Demonstrate that you meet the criteria set out on the Person Specification: So for example if team work is mentioned on the Person Specification you might want to begin to answer this question by stating ‘I believe I have the right skills and abilities for this position because I work really well in a team environment and I know this is a key aspect of the job role.’ 

 Expand on this introduction by specifying what you understand those skills and abilities to be and give examples from both your degree and extra-curricular experience of how you have utilised these effectively in the past. 

 Example: If team work is an important skill in job role: detail your team work experience and how you acquired it – perhaps you have experience from your part time job, DegreePlus and/or degree. It is advisable to touch upon all the main skills and abilities associated with the role. 

Question 3: Can you give an example of a project that you did at University, what problems you encountered and how you overcame these? 

This is a competency-based question and most interviews will feature at least one of these. They are usually recognisable as they tend to begin with ‘Can you give an example of a time when…….’, ‘Can you tell me about a time when…….’ or ‘Describe an occasion when……….’ Competency based questions are used by employers to establish if you have the skills they are looking for. 

 They therefore use these questions to get an indication of a time when you have used a skill in the past – employers believe this is a good indicator of future performance. So for example in the question above they will be trying to establish if you are good at overcoming obstacles and problem solving to reach an end goal. 

 The key to answering these questions is to provide a specific example of a time when you have demonstrated a particular skill. Do not generalise. Avoid speaking generally about your skill by using the S.T.A.R. acronym to answer this question – 

S. – Situation. Briefly describe a situation that you have been involved in that demonstrates the required competency 

T. – Task. Describe the task you had to complete
A. – Action. Describe the action you took and keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project, describe what you did, not the efforts of the team R. – Result. What was the outcome? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? 

For all interviews it is advisable to prepare answers using the STAR acronym for each of the skills or competencies listed on the Person Specification. The experiences you draw on to provide your examples can come from a wide variety of sources – academic work, part time jobs, voluntary roles, sports or any extra-curricular activities. 

Question 4 : Can you tell me why you are interested in this role or sector and what experiences you have that are relevant to it?

This is a great opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm for the position you are interested in. Employers love to see passion and enthusiasm so endeavour to get this across. This question is also an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the job role as laid out in the Job Specification and your understanding and knowledge of the wider sector. 

 It is therefore advisable to research the sector thoroughly and have a clear idea of what the job role actually involves as part of your interview preparation. So for a role in the care sector you might want to begin to answer this question by saying ‘I am really interested in this position because I love working with people and I want to work in a role where I can have a practical, positive input every day. I can see this happening in this job because……’ You might then go on to demonstrate your knowledge of the job role as laid out in the Job Specification and your understanding and knowledge of the sector in general. 

 You should conclude your answer by mentioning previous relevant experience you have. Where you do not feel you have relevant experience instead draw on the skills you have that demonstrate that you are well equipped to carry out the requirements of the role. 

Question 5: Lastly, can you tell me why we should hire you, rather than another candidate? 

Again this question is a great opportunity to show the employer how much you want the job and to once again demonstrate that key attribute – enthusiasm! 

This question provides you with an opportunity to summarise the skills and experience you have allowing you to demonstrate to the employer that you are the right person for the job. 

 It is also a fairly open question so if you feel you haven’t been able to mention other experiences or skills that might make you stand out then this is the opportunity to do it. Make it clear to the employer that you are a very good fit for the Person Specification that they have set out. 

 This is your chance to really sell your skills so make sure you do and finally remember to tell them how much you want the job and how much you want to work for this particular employer. 

Access the virtual interview tool in MyFuture