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Interview Tips and Tricks by Ashleigh Harman

Read our guide to find out more about how to plan and prepare for your interview so that you can make the best possible impression on your potential employers.

A Student Guide to Good Interview Practice
Landing a job interview can sometimes feel like hitting the jackpot, especially when you’ve spent weeks searching for vacancies and sending out CVs.

Your interviewer will have been impressed and intrigued by your application, but remember that they will also be meeting a selection of other candidates to discuss the role. An employer sets up numerous interviews in order to find out more about a group of suitable candidates and the skills and knowledge that they possess. The face-to-face meetings also allow them to determine whether or not individuals that look good on paper will actually fit in with their ethos and environment.

Our guide looks at what you can do both before and during an interview in order to make the best possible impression on your potential employer and prove that you are the right candidate to recruit.

Be prepared
Thoroughly research the company before you attend the job interview and have a selection of questions prepared, which you can ask the interviewer at the end.

Also think carefully about the characteristics, skills and experiences you want to put forward. Having this information safe in the back of your mind can be incredibly valuable, as the mental cue cards can help you present yourself in the best possible light where you give substantial and authentic answers to any questions asked.

It can also prevent you from drawing a blank, as you will know what message and image of yourself you want to portray to your potential employer.

Have the right attitude
An interview is your time to demonstrate exactly what you can bring to an organisation. Have an enthusiastic and professional attitude right from the offset in order to make a positive first impression and showcase exactly how you will be an asset to the business on a daily basis.
Also demonstrate a passion for the organisation, as interviewers like to see that a candidate has taken the time to research and get to know their business. It is also recommended that you express exactly how you will be able to contribute to the success of the business by becoming part of the team – highlighting your indispensability to the interviewer.

Ask meaningful questions
Every candidate knows that they should ask questions, but many struggle to come up with anything substantial.
Ask about the business in order to show your keen interest, see if there are opportunities for promotion and progression to prove that you are driven and also enquire into the challenges of the role, giving you an opportunity to express how you would tackle these.

Be yourself
While you may think that this is easier said than done, you should avoid giving any routine, bland answers that an interviewer will have heard before. Instead, tell stories and anecdotes that address the questions asked in order to provide the potential employer with greater understanding of you and how you would work within their organisation.

Make a lasting impression
Always follow up your interview with a thank you letter outlining what you gained and learned from the process. This can help you make a lasting positive impression and also demonstrate to a potential employer that you are genuinely interested in the role.

What not to do in a job interview
What you don’t say in a job interview can be just as important as what you do. Below is a selection of interview faux pas that all candidates should look to avoid at all costs:

Don’t turn up late
Don’t wear inappropriate clothing
Don’t mention money in the first interview
Don’t pass on any questions or answer “I don’t know”
Don’t mention any unrelated career goals or part-time jobs
Don’t talk negatively about any previous job roles or employers

By having a clear understanding of what employers do and do not want, and how to go about making a strong impression, you can adequately prepare for your upcoming interviews so that they run smoothly and put you in the strongest possible position for being chosen for the role.

Ashleigh Harman is a digital content writer for a recruitment agency specialising in job vacancies and careers in compensation, benefits and rewards.


If you’re wondering when or whether to disclose a disability, at University or when applying for a job, you might find the following advice useful:

There’s no legal requirement to disclose a disability. Our general advice would be to disclose before it becomes a barrier to you. Your rights under the The Equality Act 2010 apply at any time you disclose, whether this be at application, interview or any time after.

The Careers and Employability Service and Disability Service are both here to provide advice and guidance on a range of issues, including disclosure of a disability.

There are Disability Advisers and Careers Advisers available at each campus and you can arrange contact through the Student Link reception – more information can be found at

Advisers provide a confidential, professional opportunity for you to discuss thoughts or concerns.

Disability Advisers: Disclosure at University – who, when and why…

Disability Advisers are a good source of advice if you’re not sure where to start. Your information is treated confidentially and Advisers would normally only send relevant information to lecturing staff, exams co-ordinators and occasionally library staff, as agreed with you at your appointment with them.

If you are meeting someone new within the University who doesn’t know about your disability, for instance a Careers Adviser, librarian or a visiting lecturer, it can be helpful for you if staff know what you need: for example if you have difficulties reading website materials, information can be prepared in an alternative format for you.

Careers Advisers: Advice and Information when applying for a job or other opportunity…

• Understanding what might be classed as a disability
• Considering when or if you should disclose a disability
• Deciding how to present your disability positively to an employer
• Exploring your career development options both during and after university

The careers and employability service can send you information on different aspects of disclosure, and these are also available on campus.

For more information and contact details visit or arrange to speak to staff by visiting the Student Link on campus.

Boost your commercial awareness with professional magazines and newsletters

Most work sectors have professional magazine publications both in printed and/or digital formats with news and discussion about what’s going on in the sector. Many also have free digital newsletters that you can sign up to receive.

These are a great way for you to build your knowledge and commercial awareness of the sector you want to work in.

The best way to find these publications is to search by sector, for example “teaching”, “human resource management” or “science”. Some examples:

  • Times Higher Education Supplement
  • PlanetEarth
  • International Accountant
  • PR Week
  • HR Magazine
  • The Scientist

Don’t forget that many of these also have Social Media accounts where they publish up to date news and information.

Get on the list, get connected, and stand out from the crowd during the job application process with your up to date knowledge and commercial awareness!


By Carol Vaughan, Information Services Co-ordinator, UWS Careers & Employability Service

How to Organise your Job Search – Top Tips for Graduates and Students

Looking for your first full-time job after university can be quite a challenge. Read these organisation tips to help you keep on track with your applications.

Five ways to organise your job search

Attempting to land your first job after university can be tough. From not knowing whether or not you will get responses back from applications to keeping track of vacancies, CVs and emails, it can become quite a challenge especially as you try to balance your job search with your studies.

Organisation is therefore crucial for staying on top of your job hunt and university work. Having a system in place can prevent the search from becoming confusing and time-consuming, allowing you to keep track of the process and prevent it from impacting on other areas of your university life.

Below are five tips to help you remain in control and give you the best chance of securing the right graduate-level role for you.

1. Outline your expectations at the very beginning

Undoubtedly, you will have certain expectations for your first job after university. Think carefully about what you want and need from your graduate-level role, paying particular attention to the following:

  • Industry
  • Business type
  • Location
  • Salary expectations
  • Working environment

Make a note of your expectations before you start, as this can help you remain completely focused and provide you with a good understanding of the end result you want to achieve.

2. Build a proper routine when job hunting

It can be easy to become lost as you get stuck into your job hunt, while postponing the most difficult tasks can also be tempting.

Build a routine so that you can remain focused and continue pushing forward. This should include putting together a schedule outlining the time you want to dedicate to job hunting every week. You also need to plan out the tasks you want to carry out over a set period of time so that you have a clear understanding of what needs to be completed in advance. We would recommend doing the most demanding work when you are most productive in order to make the most of your time.

3. Benefit from virtual tools

Make use of the different apps and tools that have been designed to support job searches.

Job boards can let you view a selection of job vacancies narrowed down by industry, which can make your search more simple and straightforward. Creating an account on Indeed can also be beneficial, as it gives you the opportunity to see millions of employment opportunities in one place. The Indeed website and app pulls in vacancies placed on all different online job boards and company websites, so that you can find suitable roles quickly and save them to one place.

Evernote can also be used to synchronise the documents related to your job hunt across all devices, allowing you to organise any covering letters and CVs that you send out.

Free management systems such as Huntsy and JibberJobber can then help you to better manage your job search. Suitable job vacancies can be manually and automatically added, while you can schedule interviews, remind yourself to send thank-you and follow-up emails, find connections and apply for jobs. Using a management system to plan out and organise your job search can break up the process into small, easily digestible tasks so you can stay on track of exactly what is going on.

4. Regularly update your plans

Many job seekers fall into the trap of establishing a strategy and then forgetting to regularly review and update it during their job search.

Update your plan every time you get a reply or there is a status change so that you can gain a clear and accurate understanding of what is completed and what still needs to be carried out. Also include dates for every action that you complete so that you can recognise when you should follow up on an email, interview or other correspondence you have had with businesses or recruitment agencies.

5. Indulge in some much-needed rest and relaxation

Job hunting can be a stressful ordeal, so clocking off and spending time away from your computer is necessary. It can allow you to clear your head and spend time with your family and friends, so that you are less likely to dread heading back to the job search the next day.

You should also take the time to talk to the people closest to you. This can help to boost motivation and hear the thoughts and opinions of those most important to you. Regular family chats can also leave you with no excuse to delay tasks, as you will be expected to provide them with a progress update.

However you approach your job hunt and whatever strategy you choose, it is crucial that you decide upon a routine that is right for you. By making organisation one of your priorities, you can stay on top of the process and continue to push forward, allowing your job search to remain as effective as possible where you are able to find and apply for the job roles that are most suitable for you.

Author Bio: Ashleigh Harman is a digital content writer for Portfolio Payroll a leading specialist payroll recruitment agency in the UK.

The Year of the Goat – wisdom, fortune & prosperity

Chinese-New-Year-Goat-2015Happy Chinese New Year!

According to the Chinese Zodiac Calendar 2015, The Year of the Goat, is going to be an excellent year for all of the Chinese zodiac signs.

The Goat is the eighth sign in Chinese astrology and the number “8” is considered to be a very lucky number. It symbolizes wisdom, fortune and prosperity. This year will be especially lucky and rewarding for people who are born in the Year of the Goat! So make the most of it predicts the Chinese Horoscope 2015!

Irrespective of whether you believe in astrology, we always encourage our students to make the most of themselves, so while celebrating Chinese New Year we thought we’d highlight work and study opportunities in China….

If you can get past the noise, the lack of organised queues, the complex social etiquette and the often mindboggling numbers, China offers a fascinating and fun experience for someone who is culturally open minded. Generally visitors find it is relatively safe with a lower crime rate than comparable Western cities. The main cities, Beijing and Shanghai, are used to foreign visitors and workers but in second and third tier cities you may be more of a novelty and find yourself forging your own path more.

Working or studying in China could be a smart career move for someone wanting to work in international industry or commerce. You could build a network of contacts and cultural awareness of one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Internships or Teaching English are a great way to experience China because they are accessible to western visitors. According to Hutong School, a language school and internship provider based in Beijing, other ways of finding work in China such as via recruitment websites are much less likely to reap reward. Unless you have personal, family or business connections in China, the internship or English teaching are the most likely routes into working in China.

It is normal to find an internship through an agency with support offered ranging from finding the placement only, to including airport meet and greet, orientation, accommodation, emergency support if necessary, language training and even a full activity and cultural programme with other interns.

So for all you more adventurous students, let the Chinese New Year celebrations be the inspiration you need to start exploring the opportunities to experience China. UWS students can find some useful links on our Moodle site.  If you are not sure if it’s for you why not try our “Is Going Global Right for You” quiz on  click on “Global opportunities to broaden your horizons” on Moodle – you might surprise yourself!


The Power of LinkedIn – A Student’s Perspective

Many students see LinkedIn as “just another social network”, however I have discovered it is quite different. I have seen the benefits that LinkedIn provides first-hand, with companies contacting me directly about my interests and with details of internships they were offering.

Many people associate LinkedIn as a job hunting tool but it is much more than that! Here’s what makes LinkedIn the top professional social network for students:

  1. LinkedIn is a platform that allows you to showcase your skills, interests and previous work experience (a bit like an online CV but slightly more detailed and professionally focussed) where you can display work that you have done whether it be in an academic setting or for a professional company, for example work on a website or producing a video etc.
  2.  LinkedIn allows you to connect with past and present employers, colleagues, and friends so you can keep up to date with all the latest news, such as what’s happening at your previous workplace (maybe if you were there on placement or an internship?) Colleagues have the opportunity to endorse your skills displayed on your profile, they can also leave a recommendation about you this will let people looking at your profile know what kind of person you are, what you are like to work with and the kind of work you produce etc.
  3.  LinkedIn also provides you with the opportunity to follow a number of companies in a variety of different industries – for example I recently added Red Bull, BAE Systems, Google and Apple. The latest company news will then come on your feed and you can also get the latest job vacancies too.
  4.  LinkedIn has a specific section that allows you to search for jobs – many filters can be applied to the lists so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. For example, you can search on job title in a specific area but there are also options to add salary details and specific company names, but these are optional.
  5.  The Groups function is extremely useful and an interesting resource that allows you to join groups related to areas that you are interested in and discuss issues/experiences with like-minded professionals. It may come in handy for research purposes or projects, no matter if they are academic, professional or personal. You can keep up to date with the latest developments within that group by signing up to receive notifications when a new item is posted.

I hope that from this short blog fellow students will be able to see just what benefits LinkedIn does offer students. I personally have found it a very valuable resource and I think you would too!

By Chelsea Douglas, UWS Student

New Year Resolutions – Is “Get a Job” on your list?

new-year-resolutionIs one of your New Year Resolutions to get a job?

Are you thinking you’ll put off doing anything about it until … after the exams… after Easter… after you Graduate… a “tomorrow” that never comes? Sure, you might still achieve your goal with that attitude, but you’re much more likely to be successful if you follow these tips:

  1. Be specific – As with all resolutions, avoid making vague statements, think about short-term, achievable, behavioural goals that will lead you to being successful in your overall goal/resolution.
  2. Schedule time – It’s important to schedule time each week to focus on your career goals/job hunting, in the same way that you should schedule your study and social time. This helps to provide balance and remove stress.
  3. Know yourself – Ask yourself what you really want out of your career. For help with this check out Prospects Career Planner & Target Jobs Careers Report
  4. Identify your skills – Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate our skills and experiences. Download our skills reflection tools to help.
  5. Network - A great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and discover the hidden job market.
  6. Use social media wisely – Your social media presence can make or break your job hunt. Check out our top tips for using social media for your career.
  7. Volunteer - A great way to show employers how dedicated and hardworking you are.
  8. Attend Careers & Employability Service Workshops – Watch out for our new calendar of events on our Weekly Update emails or here:

Good luck for 2015!


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