Video Interviews – what are they and how should I prepare?

Sinéad English of Hilt, a career management services company, writes about what video interviews actually involve, what the common misconceptions and mistakes are and how you can best prepare. 

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 Q: So, what do over 40% of all graduate recruiters including Musgrave, Bank of Ireland, Paddy Power, Ornua, Boston Scientific, Oracle, Dell, IBEC Global Graduates, Enterprise Ireland, Zurich, Accenture, PepsiCo, Tesco, Kerry Group and just about every large Investment Bank have in common?

 A: They all use video interviews as part of their assessment and selection process. 

Let’s clear up a common miscomprehension here.  Video interviews are not Skype interviews.  During a video interview there isn’t a real person on your screen giving you encouraging nods as you go through your answers.  In a video interview you are asked to record your answers to a series of questions that pop up on the screen every two minutes.  There is no-one on the “other side” when you are doing your interview.  Once recorded, your answers are then sent to the employer – with no chances for second attempts or re-takes.

Sounds unnerving?  How should you prepare?  What do you need to know? How does it work?

You receive an email from the employer informing you that you are invited to an interview. So far, so normal. The email contains a link which brings you to an interview site.  Employers usually give candidates between 3 – 4  days from sending the invitation to complete the interview.  You can do the interview on a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone.  The email will contain a candidate briefing with advice on how to access the interview and tips for delivering your best performance.

The employer will set out the structure of the interview in the candidate briefing and will tell you:

  • How many questions will be asked (average is approximately 6)
  • How long you will have to read each question before you have to start answering (between  30 – 60 seconds)
  • How long you will be given to answer each question (usually between 1 to 2 minutes per answer – if you don’t finish within the required time you will be cut off mid sentence! There will be a countdown timer on the screen to keep you on track)
  • Possibilities to review your answers and retake each question if you are not happy with your answer – not usually offered

You are asked to run through some online checks to see if the camera and sound on your laptop/desktop computer or phone are working ok. Most employers will allow you to do some practice questions so you can try out the technology and see how you look and sound on camera. Answers to practice questions can be recorded and replayed by you as many times as you want  and do not form part of the interview. Your answers to the practice questions won’t be viewed by the  employer.

When you are ready to take the interview you click “Start Interview” and the recording starts.

What’s the best way to prepare?

Practise under conditions as close as possible to the ones you will experience in the video interview.  Use your phone or laptop to record and time yourself answering commonly asked interview questions.  It’s a safe bet to say that in a video interview you will be asked questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What motivates you?
  • Questions to test key graduate competencies including teamwork, initiative, problem solving and meeting deadlines
  • Why do you want to work for our company?

Get used to talking to a blank screen and focusing your eye contact on the camera.  Make full use of the practice zone on the video interview invitation you received from the employer.  If your first attempt at answering the questions is on the real interview you will more than likely underperform in the real interview.   Ask someone to review and critique your recorded responses. Receiving guidance and feedback on your answer content, body language, delivery and interview environment (lighting/sound quality) is by far the best way to ensure you deliver an excellent performance when doing the actual interview.

To help you ace your video interview Hilt has recently launched an innovative online video interview training solution which enables you to simulate real video interview conditions targeted at your industry and get extremely detailed feedback and guidance on how to improve your performance. Visit https://www.wearehilt.com/services-for-individuals/video-interview-training/ to find out more.

For more on preparing for interviews, whatever the format, visit our dedicated interview section on gradireland.com .


How to make the most of the Graduate Careers Fair

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The Graduate Careers Fair is a great way to meet recruiters, find out more about employers and industries, and hunt for jobs.

Having top employers under one roof is an invaluable opportunity; where you can have face to face conversations and get in depth information on careers and application processes. However, careers fairs can be overwhelming! We’ve put together our tips on how to get organised to make the most of your time and enjoy all the fun of the fair.

Think ahead: plan your time at the fair

  • Check the location of the fair, its opening times and which employers and organisations will be attending. You can do that by clicking here
  • Think about why you want to attend and what you want to get from the event. For example, do you want to research an industry sector; pick up information about companies; find out about job or work experience opportunities with particular employers, get info on application processes, or network?
  • Decide which employers you definitely want to visit. You can view the floor plan on our gradireland events app and plot a route. You can download the app from the Apple store here or on Google Play here
  • You can also use our gradireland app to look at the programme of seminars and panel discussions taking place on the day and create your own seminar schedule.

Top Tip: Seminars and presentations on applications, interviews and assessment centres fill up quickly so note their times and be in the queue early. Also if you plan on attending our CV clinic make sure to check in on arrival and also bring a hard copy of your CV too.

Research employers before you go

Careers fairs are a great way to find out behind the scenes stuff you can’t get from their website. However, recruiters will be busy and your time with them may be short. Prior research means you can quickly get to the details. You’ll also create a much better impression

  • Visit employers profiles on the gradireland website to find out what they do (products made/services offered) and to find out more about their graduate roles, skills and qualifications required and recruitment processes.
  • Prepare questions to ask recruiters and representatives. These can be about the recruitment process, what skills and qualities are needed, trends in the profession, and so on – take these with you.
  • In the days leading up to a fair, scan the news headlines and relevant industry sector pages of quality news websites to get a feel for what’s going on in the sectors that interest you.

Presentation matters if you want to stand out

The jury is out on how you should dress for graduate recruitment fairs. Some say suited and booted, while others say smart casual – it can depend on the profession. Smart casual is usually fine; clean and tidy is vital. It’s important that you are comfortable, but also be professional. Remember how you look is only one part of the presentation package.

When you approach recruiters at fairs:

  • Smile.
  • Be purposeful, confident and enthusiastic, but also polite and courteous.
  • Know what you have to offer – your skills, qualities and experience.
  • Be ready with specific questions to ask.

Top tip: Prepare and practice a mini ‘pitch’ about yourself. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell of your skills, just a simple, brief introduction. For example: ‘Hi. My name is John and I’ve just started my final year in engineering at X-factor University. I’m business-minded and I’d like to use this skill alongside my technical abilities. I’m interested in finding out more about supply-chain management roles and I noticed from your website that you have a supply-chain scheme for engineers. Can you tell me more about your scheme and what it involves?

  • Arrive early to avoid queues and see recruiters at the start of the day.
  • Visit your top priority employer after you’ve talked with one or two others – this gives you a chance to warm up and build your confidence.
  • Don’t hunt in a pack. If you go with friends, split up to make better use of your time. Even more importantly, this will show recruiters that you are a capable, independent individual.

Make notes for future reference

Take a notepad and pen to write down the names and contact details of people you meet and to record any useful information you glean. Once you leave an employer’s stand, move to one side and take a moment to record your impressions:

  • What makes the organisation different?
  • Would you be happy working with these people?
  • What did you find out that made you feel you would fit in? How would you be able to use your skills within the organisation?

You may find that you refer to contacts you made and information you found out at careers fairs in applications and interviews.

Top tip: Graduate careers fairs are good opportunities to practice basic interview techniques. Think about how you will respond to typical interview questions: What do you know about us? What interests you about working for us? What attracts you to a career in this industry? What skills and qualities do you think would be important for this role/our company?

Most importantly don’t forget to register for the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair taking place next Wednesday October 4th in the RDS Simmonscourt from 11am until 5pm. You can get your ticket free here!


5 Reasons you should attend the Graduate Careers Fair

Ireland’s Official Graduate Careers Fair is taking place on Wednesday 4th October 2017 in the RDS Simmonscourt. This event is your opportunity to meet leading employers, course providers, careers advisors and find out all the opportunities available to you!

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Still not convinced? We have put together five reasons why you should attend Ireland’s largest graduate careers event!

It’s Ireland’s Official and Best* Graduate Careers Fair

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Whether you are job hunting, want to find out more about further study or simply career curious about all the opportunities available to you, the Graduate Careers Fair has everything you need. Also did we mention that the Graduate Careers Fair *won best exhibition in the national Event Industry Awards 2016?

Face to face interaction with leading employers

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This is your chance to make a great first impression with over 120 of Ireland’s top employers, who are all actively recruiting students, graduates and young professionals in a whole range of disciplines. Make a list of the exhibitors you would like to speak to, bring along your CV and get networking; this is your time to shine!

A killer seminar schedule

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This year we have really outdone ourselves when it comes to our seminar schedule. Whether it’s advice about writing the perfect CV or cover letter, employability skills or top interview tips and hints, we have something for you! Check out the full list of seminars on our website.

CV Clinic

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So you have had a list of employers that you may be interested in applying to put together. Now you have to create the perfect CV and cover letter to show off all your experience and skills. The Graduate Careers Fair will host a CV clinic, providing more than 50 hours of expert advice from career professionals – but make sure to get there early to secure your spot as the CV clinic fills up really quickly!

Your one stop shop for job hunting and advice

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In final year? Be smart with your time- meet all the key people, find invaluable information and discover all the different opportunities available to you all in one day under one roof! Best of all – it’s completely free to attend by registering at graduatecareersfair.com

See you there 🙂


Why postgraduate study abroad can be a viable, cost-effective, option

Once you finish your undergraduate degree it can be hard to figure out what to do next. There are so many options available, further study and travel being just two. Conor O’ Doherty, a DCU graduate, chose to combine those two options and set off to the Netherlands to pursue a postgrad degree in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

There are hundreds of options when it comes to going onto further education, and each have their benefits and drawbacks. Moving abroad can be a more expensive and sometimes a stressful option, but it can also provide an invaluable experience.

Conor chose to study abroad for a number of reasons, including cost and a desire to travel.

“I wanted to leave Ireland for a while, although it’s a great place to grow up, I didn’t want to live there for the rest of my life without living anywhere else,” Conor said. “The other reason is that the price difference is huge when it comes to the cost of postgraduate study”.

Fees for a year in the UvA will cost Conor around €2000, whereas the equivalent course in Ireland would cost up to €6,800 per year.

“Although I’ll pay more for accommodation and moving expenses, Irish courses usually cost a lot more and they’re generally a lot longer”.

Having lived away from home during his undergraduate degree, Conor is used to managing finances himself. While in Amsterdam he plans to find a place to live  and use savings for the first while, but then try and find part-time work.

He found the process of applying for the course “relatively simple” but had some problems getting documentation together, as he hadn’t finished his course before the application deadline.

“My application was a bit of a mess to be honest because I hadn’t finished my course so I had to go to different bodies in the university, both here and in the Netherlands, to organise workarounds,” he said. “The University expects plenty of people not to have their degree yet though, so sending on predicted grades was acceptable.”.

Finding accommodation is something Conor is still trying to finalise before his move in August. Much like the accommodation crisis in Ireland, students looking for somewhere to live in Amsterdam face the same problems.

“I’m using a variety of sites to search like Volta and Pararius, but because they’re for Dutch people mostly, I might need to go through an agency,” he said. “Failing that, there’s very expensive emergency accommodation like The Student Hotel, but I’d rather not have to use that option”.

Conor advises anyone who is interested in a postgrad abroad to take the risk and go for it, but to really think it through before starting the process.

“It’s a huge leap of faith, but the only thing worse than not trying it is wishing you had,” he said. “I haven’t even started the hard part of mine yet and honestly, as stressful as it has been, I’m still very glad I made the decision and followed it through.”

Read here for more information on studying abroad from gradireland.com.

For more information on studying in Europe, including information about various universities to which you can apply, visit the EUNiCAS website.


4 tips for starting your internship successfully

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Your first experience in the field you want to make a career in is an invaluable opportunity, so it’s important you’re prepared. We have some tips from our Events Intern, Poppy Harrington, to get you started.

Once you find and secure an internship in a company, the nerves can set in. Knowing what to expect and what will be expected of you can be daunting, especially if it’s the first time you’re going into a working environment. Poppy Harrington is a 3rd year Events Management student in DIT and currently an Events Intern at gradireland. She has some tips for anyone about to start their internship:

1. Take your time: Rushing into the first internship you’re offered can be tempting, but remember to look into the company and the role they’re offering before accepting the internship.
My advice would be not to just take the first internship you’re offered, unless you’re absolutely certain it’s what you want. Do a lot of research before you choose a placement, and choose one that’s right for you and that you will definitely learn from.

2. Factor in payment: gradireland’s Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey revealed that 92% of employers surveyed pay their interns. However, some internship opportunities can still be unpaid. If this is the case with your internship, think about if that will be feasible for you over the course of your internship and if you’re getting valuable experience from it. If you will need to work part-time outside of your internship, consider the impact that can have, particularly if your internship is 6 months or longer.

3. Look after yourself: Getting used to working full-time in your area of study for the first time will be tiring. Work/life balance is very important. At least twice a week I try to go and meet my friends for coffee after work to break it up. It’s important to look after yourself and make time for yourself.

4. Find a company that suits you: Different companies have different atmospheres. Before you start applying for internships, think about what kind of workplace you feel you’d suit. Think about dress-codes, work hours, and company goals and aims. Do a lot of research; make sure you know something about the ethos of the company. I think it suits me that gradireland is quite an informal place, I don’t think I would enjoy working in an atmosphere that was very formal. Also, make sure you use the internship experience to open as many doors for you in terms of applying for jobs and doing interviews, it will all stand to you in the long run.

For more tips on starting an internship visit our internship section on gradireland.com

Making the most of your internship

Poppy Harrington, gradireland Events Intern

According to the 2017 gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey (coming soon) over 75% of businesses said they offer work experience or internships to college students. Also, 66% of students surveyed by gradireland saying they had completed work experience or an internship. We take a look at the internship experience from the perspective of a pre-final year student. By Hannah Kelly. 

“Internships give students a taste of working life, equip them with vital industry experience and can help them choose where they want go to in their career,” says Poppy Harrington, a 3rd year Events Management student from DIT, who is currently four months into her six month internship here at  gradireland.

“My role is Events Intern, so I liaise with the events manager and events co-ordinator for all of our events,” she explained, “my main role has been to organise Summer Fair which is on June 7th in the RDS”.

More and more courses at third level are adding work placement as a module. Poppy believes her “course wouldn’t be the same without” the internship because in this field experience is everything. Poppy had some previous experience of running events in college, but not comparable to the scale she is now working on in her internship.

“For the Summer Fair we already have 1600 people registered and for my event in college only 50 people came, so it’s definitely on a different level to what I was used to,” she said.

Above all, Poppy feels like her internship has given her a chance to explore what her future career might look like and what aspects of events she enjoys.

“It’s opened doors for me about what I want to do when I finish, because I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do, but everyday I’m here I learn more about what I want to do, what I don’t want to do and what interests me and what doesn’t,” she said.

A concern Poppy has is how she will feel returning to a college environment after being in the workplace for six months. She feels internships would be better suited once a student is finished with their degree.

“I’m not looking forward to go back to assignments and having tutors tell me what to do instead of working on my own initiative and making my own choices with a team,” Poppy said, adding “I think having this experience at the end of my degree would have been more beneficial as my internship is so long”.

Once finished her final year in college, she hopes to go on to further study after gradireland introduced her to the possibility of graduate programmes and believes the internship has been hugely beneficial and will stand to her once she enters the working world.

“The way I see it, these six months of my life will be really beneficial in terms of what I can learn and learn about myself” Poppy said, “I didn’t even know what a graduate programme was before gradireland and it has opened my mind as to what is out there when I finish”.

 

Next week, Poppy will share her top tips for starting your internship on the front foot. 

Find out more about internships on gradireland.com .


Our top tips for making the most out of the gradireland Summer Fair

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Unfortunately we won’t have flamingos or cactus at our Summer Fair BUT we have plenty to help you on your career pathway!

We’ve put together our top tips for making the most out of next week’s Summer Fair!

Keep an open mind

Employers hire graduates from any discipline. So don’t pigeon-hole potential employers – IT companies need marketing, finance and language graduates; accountancy firms recruit from any disciplines, you don’t have to be an accountant. Indeed most of the companies at the gradireland Summer Fair recruit from a number of disciplines, so don’t walk on by their stands – get in there and ask them if they are on the look-out for graduates from your discipline: you might be pleasantly surprised!

Download the gradireland Events App

The gradireland Events App is your personal assistant for the gradireland Summer Fair! We have packed our entire fair information into this must-have app which is FREE to download and gives you the tools that you need to have a productive and successful gradireland Summer Fair! The app will help you:

  • Research companies before and during the fair
  • Keep up-to-date with all the pre-fair developments e.g. new exhibitors, exciting new seminars
  • Find companies who are hiring students and graduates with your skills
  • Locate exhibitors quickly with a floor plan at your fingertips, so you can make the most out of your day.
  • Create your own schedule of seminars with built-in reminders
  • Bookmark your key exhibitors; have immediate access to companies’ gradireland profiles and contact information
  • Interact via the app with exhibitors and other attendees; post photos of your day, comments and messages.

Download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play now

Use the Jobs Walls

There will be several Jobs Walls within the hall at the gradireland Summer Fair, showcasing live jobs from a number of sectors. These will have numerous graduate schemes and opportunities listed, so bring a notepad and pen or use your phone and take a photo of any that you are interested in applying to – then go home, find the job, internship or graduate programme on gradireland.com and start putting together your applications!

Bring your CV

Many employers are happy to receive CVs at careers fairs. In addition, at the gradireland Summer Fair we will be running a specialist CV Clinic, hosted by careers advisers from various Universities providing specialist advice, at which you can have your CV reviewed.

However, a word of caution – the CV Clinic has a limited number of slots and gets booked up very quickly, so get there early to book your appointment and don’t expect the advisers to write your CV for you – they are there to review and advise but you’ll have to do the hard work first yourself!

Attend the Seminars

Make sure you attend one or more of the specialist careers seminars – they are designed to give you the edge when it comes to applications and interviews! From Social Media to Life after Graduating there is a seminar to benefit everyone. Check out the line-up of seminars for the Summer Fair here!

Prepare

Make sure you have researched the exhibitors who are attending and decide beforehand which ones you would like to talk to. Think of questions which might not be answered already in brochures or on their websites, read our other blog for some examples you might consider. Many exhibitors bring recent graduates now working in their business to their stands, so ask them what life is really like in that company!

Visit summergradfair.ie today and get your free ticket!