How to succeed in an interview…

Hey guys 🙂

In my last blog I talked about completing your personal statement for your UCAS application… Today I’m going to talk about what happens next…

So… You have an interview for your course… First of all don’t panic, Universities aren’t trying to catch you out, they just want to make sure that you are an ideal candidate for the course and that you will be able to cope with the demands of your chosen course before making you an offer. Secondly… Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you are prepared for your interview, you will find it will be so much easier…

Preparation

There is lots you can do to make sure that you are fully prepared for the big day – from arranging mock interviews to arming yourself with information about the University and your chosen course.

Top Tips:

  • Make sure you know where you need to be and when you need to be there. Visit the University website for a map and directions. Don’t always rely on Sat-Nav to get you there – make sure you have a map as a back-up. If you need any more information about where on campus you need to be, contact the University
  • Remember that knowledge is power – Make sure you have read the prospectus and that you have looked at the University’s website. Make sure you know about the course you are applying for – it will make you seem keener during your interview. If there are things you would like to know that are not in the prospectus, make a list of questions you would like to ask.
  • Make sure that you are familiar with what you wrote in you application form – the interviewers will base their questions on the content of your application and will probably ask you about some of the things you have mentioned.
  • Be familiar with ‘hot topics’ in your subject area – you may be questioned about them. Interviewers commonly ask for your views on these areas. For teaching, a good place to keep up to date with hot topics is in the Times Educational Supplement, currently you can subscribe to the TES for just £1 for 6 issues at http://www.tes.co.uk/publications.aspx?navcode=91
  • Remember that practice makes perfect. A mock interview is the best way to make sure you know exactly what you want to say and how you might answer certain questions. Ask a teacher or a careers adviser to run through a mock interview with you.
  • Try and relax – the night before try and get a good nights sleep, you won’t be at your best without one.

At the Interview

Interviews are always nerve-wracking, but try to remain calm and be yourself. Be enthusiastic and be sure to ‘sell’ yourself and what you have to offer

Interviewers are looking for students who show an interest, who can think independently and consider new ideas.

They are looking for students who will thrive well on their course and enjoy a varied academic life alongside their outside interests.

Top tips:

  • Dress appropriately – make sure you turn up looking smart, remember first impressions really do count!
  • Make sure you arrive on time, allow plenty of time to get there and make sure you have a contact number, just in case the worst happens and you get delayed on the way.
  • Be aware of your body language, make sure you are giving off the right signals, don’t slouch or yawn, sit up straight and look alert and enthusiastic
  • If you don’t understand a question ask for it to be repeated or rephrased… Also allow yourself some thinking time before diving in to answer a question… A good way to do this is by saying something along the lines of “That’s a good question…” then answer.
  • Expect the unexpected – while interviewers aren’t trying to trick you, some will want to see how you react under pressure. A surprise test or exercise isn’t unheard of so stay calm and think clearly.
  • Ask questions – Usually at the end of your interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. You will come across as enthusiastic if you ask appropriate questions. Use this opportunity to find out the answers to any questions that weren’t answered in the prospectus or on the website. If you are a have no questions to ask, you could say something like “You have already answered any questions that I had, thank you.”
Now it’s time to sit back and wait, you will either hear back from the University directly or you may hear back through the UCAS track system.

Nobody likes interviews, but with a bit of preparation, ‘selling yourself’ and showing knowledge and enthusiasm in your answers will become second nature, landing you a place on the higher education course that’s right for you.

Good luck with your applications and interviews!

Thanks for reading, don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter at @Jen_EHU

Jen 🙂

How to get classroom experience…

So you’re thinking of training to be a teacher? One of the main things that Universities look for among the thousands of applications they receive, are students with classroom experience…

Getting classroom experience isn’t always the easiest thing… but the following tips may help you to gain some invaluable practice based experience…

1.    Are you still at college or university? – Ask your careers service if they can help. Some have mentoring and classroom assistant schemes, but even if they don’t they might be able to put you in contact with schools in the local area interested in taking observations or volunteers.

2.    Do you know any teachers? – Do you have any friends or relatives who are teachers? Use any existing contacts you have and ask if they might be willing to take you in and observe lessons.

3.    Ask your old school – How long is it since you left school? If you are in touch with any of your old teachers or they might remember you then they might like to see that they have inspired a love for teaching in an ex-pupil!

4.    Ask your children’s school – Do you or your friends have children who are at school? You could approach the teacher and ask if they need helpers or volunteers.

5.    Be brave and ask. – If you don’t have any existing contacts then just ask! Look on Edubase for schools in your area and email or phone them to ask if you could come in and observe lessons. They will be used to getting requests so don’t worry about asking, but it might take time as it is popular.

6.    Be as flexible as you can. – It is not easy if you are studying or changing careers to find time to go into a school but you do need to be as flexible as possible. You might need to travel a little further than you wanted but if you can be as flexible as possible then you have more chance of being helpful to the school.

7.    Register with the TDA – If you want to teach a shortage subject including physics, chemistry, maths or modern foreign languages (MFL) you might be eligible for their School Experience Programme. They can help you get experience.

Personal Statement… Where to start?

Hello again… 🙂 After a couple of requests from some of you, today I’m going to write a little bit about personal statements… What are they for? What should you include? Ultimately your personal statement is your opportunity to tell Universities and Colleges why you are suitable for the course that you want to study. It is vital that you make the most of this opportunity and demonstrate your commitment, enthusiasm, and most importantly, ensure that you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants… Now I know this sounds like a huge, daunting task, but if you break it down and use the following hints and tips, you’ll find that it’s actually not so bad! Okay, so a little bit about what to include… Writing about the course You need to answer two main questions here:

  • Why are you applying to this particular course? Here, you need to talk about why the subject interests you, try and include evidence that you understand what is required when studying the specific course.
  • Why are you suitable for the course? This is your chance to tell the Universities what skills and experience you have that will help you to succeed on the course.
Other questions to consider:
  • How do your current or previous studies relate to your chosen course?
  • What experience do you have that demonstrates your interest in the course?
  • Why do you want to go to University?
Skills and Achievements

Universities want to know if you have any accredited or non-accredited achievements and skills. These can include, CREST awards; Diploma of Achievement; Duke of Edinburgh Award; Young Enterprise. You can also mention positions of responsibility that you have held both in and out of school, e.g. school prefect and any other achievements that you are proud of, eg reaching grade 3 piano or being selected for the county netball team.

Hobbies and Interests

It is important to tell the Universities about your hobbies and interests but you need to think about how these demonstrate your skills and abilities. For example, rather than simply stating “I enjoy playing netball”, talk about how it had developed your skills as a team player, how it demonstrates your ability to cope with pressure and that you show the ability to mix with a range of different people

Work Experience

This is your chance to talk about any jobs, placements, work experience or voluntary work, especially if its relevant to your chosen course. Try to link these experiences to the skills and qualities mentioned in the Course Entry Profile…

A few do’s and don’ts when writing your personal statement

  • Do create a list of your ideas before attempting to write the real thing.
  • Do expect to produce several drafts before being totally happy.
  • Do ask people you trust for their feedback.
  • Do check university and college prospectuses, websites and Entry Profiles, as they usually tell you the criteria and qualities that they want their students to demonstrate.
  • Do use your best English/Welsh and don’t let spelling and grammatical errors spoil your statement.
  • Do be enthusiastic – if you show your interest in the course, it may help you get a place.
  • Don’t feel that you need to use elaborate language. If you try too hard to impress with long words that you are not confident using, the focus of your writing may be lost.
  • Don’t say too much about things that are not relevant – if you think that you are starting to, take a break and come back to your statement when you feel more focused.
  • Don’t lie – if you exaggerate you may get caught out at interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement.
  • Don’t rely on a spellchecker as it will not pick up everything – proof read as many times as possible.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute – your statement will seem rushed and important information could be left out.
  • Don’t expect to be able to write your personal statement whilst watching TV or surfing the internet – this is your future, so make the most of the opportunity to succeed.

I know this guidance isn’t extensive, but hopefully it will be a starting point for some of you looking to apply to University… If you have any questions about writing your personal statement feel free to post them below and I will get back to you, or as usual you can ask me on Twitter at @Jen_EHU Good luck with your applications! If there are any other topics you would like me to cover over the coming blog posts, let me know and I will do my best to include them… Thanks for reading Jen 🙂