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Interviews for Postgraduates


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This is part of our Essential Guide to Careers for Postgraduates from the University of Manchester Careers Service, and deals with Interviews

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Interviews for Postgraduates

  1. 1. The Essential Guide To Careers For Postgraduates : Interviews Elizabeth Wilkinson University of Manchester Careers Service
  2. 2. What We Will Cover <ul><li>Before the Interview </li></ul><ul><li>At the Interview </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Types of Interview Questions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and how to tackle them </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your Questions to the Interviewer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>First Impressions and Body Language </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Further Careers Support and Resources </li></ul>
  3. 3. Preparing for Interviews <ul><li>Where’s your evidence ? </li></ul><ul><li>Catalogue your achievements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t always assume they realise the value of your qualifications or academic experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Review the skills & knowledge they demonstrate </li></ul><ul><li>Practice explaining them to someone who wasn’t there when you did them </li></ul>
  4. 4. Practical Points <ul><li>Logistics </li></ul><ul><li>Where do you have to go ? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you plan to get there ? </li></ul><ul><li>Who will you see ? </li></ul><ul><li>What will they put you through ?! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s OK to ask </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Your Starter for 10 … <ul><li>The toughest question for some people: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tell me a bit about yourself … </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Testing Your Motivation <ul><li>Why did you study … ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Looking for passion, enthusiasm - and ability to communicate about your subject </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why do you want this type of work/PhD? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do you want to work for this employer/study for a PhD in this department? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Looking for passion, enthusiasm … and evidence of research </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Convince me … <ul><li>Behavioural interviewing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Having done something in the past is the best predictor of whether you could do it in the future </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ How” vs “what” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How you did things is often as important to an employer as what you did </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Behavioural Questions <ul><li>Give me an example of … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… the most effective team effort / collaboration you’ve been part of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… when you’ve had to persevere to achieve a difficult objective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… where you have introduced innovative teaching methods </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C ontext, A ctions, R esult </li></ul>
  9. 9. Forensic Interviewing <ul><li>Level 1 - ask the question (Give me an example of an effective collaboration…) </li></ul><ul><li>Level 2 - ask for evidence (how did it come about etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Level 3 – personalise (what was your role?) </li></ul><ul><li>Level 4 – generalise (what do you think makes an effective collaboration?) </li></ul><ul><li>Level 5 – challenge (but what about? ie something you haven’t mentioned) </li></ul><ul><li>Level 6 - ask for more (give me another example) </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Art of the Spin Doctor <ul><li>Need to present a positive interpretation of your life – even the bad bits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are your weaknesses? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why did you fail that exam / repeat that year / leave that job …? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s the worst … part of your postgraduate degree / person you’ve dealt with ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think of what you learnt, how you would do things differently, how you persevered through adversity </li></ul>
  11. 11. Your Chance to Shine <ul><li>Specific: </li></ul><ul><li>How has doing research / a Masters prepared you for this job / PhD? </li></ul><ul><li>Broader: </li></ul><ul><li>What are your strengths? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should we take you? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What are your three bullet points? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The Unpredictable … <ul><li>Hypothetical – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What would you do if …? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What were they looking for ? ! </li></ul>
  13. 13. Other Questions <ul><li>Will you be a good investment ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which other jobs / PhDs have you applied for? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For academic roles: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What ideas do you have for further research? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What are potential sources of funding? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Your Questions <ul><li>Do ask questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>about your future in the organisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for academics - their research ! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>highlighting the benefits you could bring </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t ask questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>about salary, car parking, pensions … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>which are answered in their recruitment literature / website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>about page 43 of the annual report </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Presentation <ul><li>First impressions are crucial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Punctual, unflustered, neat appearance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Firm handshake no bone-crushers … or limp lettuces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> SMILE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eye contact </li></ul><ul><li>Positive body language </li></ul><ul><li>Look confident and interested </li></ul>
  16. 16. Further Careers Support <ul><li>When you have an interview coming up : </li></ul><ul><li>Book a mock interview </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If possible, give us a week’s notice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give us a copy of your application AND details of the job for which you will be interviewed, at least 2 days in advance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We’ll prepare questions to suit </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Interview Videos <ul><li>Real employers interviewing students (including some postgrads) </li></ul><ul><li>Hear the answers, what the employer thinks, and what they’re looking for </li></ul><ul><li>Streamed direct from the Careers Service website (requires University of Manchester login): </li></ul><ul><li>http:// /careers/interviews </li></ul>
  18. 18. Some Further Career Resources <ul><li>Handouts: </li></ul><ul><li>First Interviews (Including Telephone Interviews) </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment Centres (including Second Interviews) </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews & Assessment for Research Students </li></ul><ul><li>Web resource </li></ul><ul><li>PhD Interview Preparation Guide For Positions In Academia (though aimed US market) </li></ul>