Aston University Optometry Interview

Aston University

Aston University Optometry Interview

Tips for screening/telephone interviews

Before the Interview

have all the relevant information to hand, including job and company details

tell anyone you live with that you are expecting a phone call. Ask them to be polite and to take a message if you are not available

make sure that your answerphone/ voicemail message sounds professional in case you miss the initial call

plan to conduct your interview in a quiet area and ensure you pick a good spot for mobile signal if you are not using a landline

During the Interview

avoid distractions… don’t look at or fiddle with your computer or mobile phone

as telephones amplify background noise, switch off the TV/ radio and don’t smoke or eat. Make sure anyone in the house knows not to start shouting to you or speaking loudly near you whilst you’re on the phone

your interviewer will tell you her or his name – make a note of it and use it to make the contact more personal…..but don’t use their first name unless they invite you to do so

keep your answers brief unless the interviewer prompts you for further information

listen carefully for any verbal clues that the interviewer gives you – this will help you to gauge whether they want you to talk a little more or a little less

make notes, if you can, when the interviewer is talking. This could help as, if you need some time to think of an answer to a specific question or you don’t fully understand it, you can repeat the question back to the interviewer to clarify what they want from you

show your interest in the job/ the company by asking some questions at the end of the interview

… and remember to thank your interviewer for their time

Some telephone interviews are automated – if that’s the case, you will probably be given a freephone number, and a PIN number to log in with when you call. During the call, you may be asked to respond to a series of pre-recorded statements – %20tips.html?article%20

Face to Face/One to One Interviews

A face to face or one to one interview involves the job applicant and an interviewer. Although you may be told that this is an informal discussion, it is best to assume that it will

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be formal so act and dress accordingly.

The person interviewing you will usually welcome you into the room and ask you to sit down. They should then tell you what the format of the interview will be – for example, they will:

tell you a little about the job

ask you some questions

give you time to answer any questions you may have

You may see the interviewer making a note of your answers, often on a pre-prepared chart alongside headings such as “skills” and/ or “competencies”. You can generally gauge what they will be looking for by reading the job description (and the person specification if there is one.) – %20tips.html?article%20

Panel Interviews

Some interviews will be conducted by a panel (a group) of interviewers. You will usually be told in advance who will be on the interview panel, and what their roles are, so you may be able to do some research into their particular responsibilities and areas of interest. Panel members might include:

the person who will manage the successful candidate

a person who will work in a team with the successful candidate

someone from the human resources (HR) department

The person chairing the interview panel will usually welcome you into the room and ask you to sit down. They will then introduce the interview panel members, who will take it in turn to ask you some questions.Direct your answer at the person who asks you the question but occasionally move your head so that you make eye contact with the other panel members.

You may see the panel members making a note of your answers, often on a pre-prepared chart alongside headings such as “skills” and/ or “competencies”. You can generally gauge what they will be looking for by reading the job description (and the person specification if there is one.)

Virtual Interviews

An Increasing number of companies are conducting job interviews virtually, online often using Skype. Skype Interviews provide a quick and cheap way to initially assess potential recruits. A Skype interview is just like a face-to-face/ one-to-one interview but in the comfort of your own home (if you have a Skype link) or wherever else that you conduct it.

The tips for telephone interviews are also relevant to Skype interviews, so read them thoroughly. In addition, here are some specific tips for a Skype interview:

Background: make sure that the webcam on your computer is facing a plain background (that you will sit in front of), and avoid brightly coloured backgrounds or

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those with a ‘busy’ pattern on them as computers can distort colours and make it difficult for the other person’s eyes to focus on you

Lighting: you will look best in sunlight from a nearby window. If your computer can be placed in such a location, make sure you are facing the sunlight and/or a table lamp that illuminates your face. Where possible, avoid bright or fluorescent overhead lights as they can wash the colour out of your face

Clothing: wear the clothes that you would normally wear for an interview – for women, a blouse with a jacket; for men, a shirt and tie with a suit jacket will look smart and show that you have made an effort

Webcam: whilst your instinct will be to look at the screen, try to look into the webcam as this will make it look like you have eye contact with each other. If you can, make sure that the webcam is at eye level to give you the most flattering image – if it is below that, you will appear tired. Be careful though……if you do prop your laptop onto something to raise it up, make sure that it provides a secure base as you don’t want it to collapse midway through your interview!

Have a test run: before your interview, practice talking to a friend or family member on Skype or whatever online chat tool the interviewer specifies

Portfolio based Interviews

If your interview is for a role that requires creative skills – e.g. graphic design, animation, creative writing, journalism – you may be asked to provide a portfolio of your

work. Depending upon the nature of your skill, this may be required in paper-version, online, on a DVD etc. – check what format the company requires.

Before the Interview, prepare what you want to talk about:

the examples that you are presenting to them e.g. your inspiration/ influences; the process used to develop them

any writers/ designers/ artists whose work you admire the most

your aspirations – for example, do you want to focus on a particular aspect of work or are you keen to be involved in a range of activities

Interviews for Postgraduate Courses

Questions posed during an interview for a postgraduate course are likely to cover some or all of the following areas:

your previous study e.g. Why did you choose the course? Did you make the right decision? What did you learn?

your dissertation or a final year project e.g. What did you focus upon and why? What did you learn? What would you do differently?

what you learned, more generally, from your time at University

your interest in, and suitability for, the postgraduate course

how the course fits with your career plans

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how you intend to fund your postgraduate study. It’s okay to ask whether any funding is available through the institution itself, but this shouldn’t be your only option

As with other types of interview, it helps if you demonstrate that your application is based upon an informed decision: one that is based on reflections about your own abilities/ interests and on research that you have undertaken into the course/ University/ role. It will help if you research the department that you are applying to e.g.

what are its current research projects?

what is its research rating?

what attracts you to study there e.g. staff specialisms; research areas?

One less obvious form of Interview… The Overnight Stay

Some companies will invite you to stay overnight before or during the interview process. If this brings you into contact with staff from the recruitment agency and/or your potential employer, your behaviour will be observed and will be reported back to the interviewer(s) even if you are told that you are having an informal dinner or chat.

Be on your best behaviour, and be polite and courteous to everyone you meet (including hotel/ venue staff) as they might be asked for their opinion on you. If you do decide to have an alcoholic drink, only drink a small amount even if those around you are drinking freely.

Giving a Presentation as part of your Interview

You may also be asked to prepare a presentation that you would give during your interview – find out more about doing this successfully.

Interview Preparation

Here are some key things you can do to prepare and handle the interview process professionally and successfully:

Employers want to find out 3 main things about you during an interview –

1. Can you do the job?

This is usually the most straightforward aspect of the interview. The employer has already seen something in your application or your CV that has made them take an interest in you as

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a possible employee. They now need to find out more about your experience and what you have done by asking you:

about the how/when/why/what of your work and your education experiences

questions like ‘What would you do if…?’ or ‘Tell us a time when…?’

to take a test, give a presentation or take part in a group discussion

2.Will you do the Job?

This is usually the harder part of the interview as the interviewer(s) will be trying to find out why you applied for the job and whether you are likely to accept the job and would be motivated to work hard if successful. Questions may therefore include:

“Why did you apply for this job?”

“How does this fit in with your long-term career plan?”

“What do you know about this company?”

3.Will you fit in?

You will need to be ready to answer questions about yourself, how you work within a team and what you see as your strengths and weaknesses. Questions may therefore include:

“Tell us about a time when you made a significant contribution to a team that you were part of?”

“Tell us about a time when you found it difficult to work within a team?”

“What is your greatest weakness?”

“If you got this job, what would we find quickly out about your strengths an weaknesses at work?

Research the job and the company –

You must research the job and the company – far too many people forget to do this:

“It never ceases to amaze me how many graduates don’t bother to find out who it is that they are applying to and what the job entails. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read up on this beforehand. Lack of preparation really shows!” (Graduate employer)

You can find out more by looking at:

Job-specific Information

Job description

Personal specification

Company-specific Information

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Use the company’s website and read their marketing literature. Pay particular attention to any information you can find detailing the companies; mission statement, values, recruitment procedures, competencies of choice, products and services, main competitors, customer service satisfaction and areas of staff development. Wider research will include investigating the issues affecting the sector that the company operates within. If you know the names of the people who are interviewing you, you could search for information on them, their roles and specialist areas; linked in is a good place to find role details and associated skills.

Employers expect you to do this level of research if you are interested in the role. It will also help you devise a few questions that you can ask at the end of your interview.

Read more about employer research and the resources available to you at Aston.

The main types of Interview questions

You don’t know what questions you will be asked at your interview, but you can make an informed guess by:

Reading the job description, the personal spec and any other information related to the role that you have been given

Taking a look at our advice on types of Interviews and the style of questions you can anticipate

Seeking feedback from anyone who has been interviewed by the same company

Interviewers tend to use a mix of question types. The most frequently used types are listed below along with other types you need to prepare for:

closed questions

open questions

competency-based questions

value-based questions

scenario questions

awkward questions

salary questions

badly worded questions

your questions

Presenting yourself

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Unless you are told otherwise, you will be expected to dress smartly and formerly fro an interview. It is important that you don’t create the impression that you won’t fit in with the company style. An Interview is not the time to make a fashion statement!

This checklist will help you consider some key aspects of your personal appearance:

Hair – clean, neat and tidy. If you have dandruff then avoid dark clothing

Shoes – clean, polished and comfortable. Scruffy shoes can put employers off a candidate

Fingernails – clean and trimmed

Odour – Nerves make you perspire more than usual so ensure you wear clean clothes and an effective deodorant. Perfume or aftershave should be subtle and not overpowering

Some people say that interviewers make up their mind about a candidate within the first few minutes – they will base their initial impression of you on your body language as well as the words that come out of you mouth.

Here is some advice on making a positive impression without even opening your mouth:

Your head – smile and try not to look too serious or nervous. Eye contact is important – Ensure you look and make eye contact with all of the people who are interviewing you. Nod when you agree with what they are saying and look interested when they are talking to you

Your hands – do not fold your arms as it creates a barrier between you and the people you are speaking with. Find a position in which you can rest your hands and don’t be afraid to use them when making a point, but try not to wave them around to much as this will distract the interview from what you are saying

Your upper body – sit upright. When you are making a point, lean forward slightly, but not too far!

Your lower body – It doesn’t matter whether you cross your legs or not, as long as you feel comfortable. However, don’t stick them out in front of you and try to keep them as still as you can – moving your legs around will make you appear uncomfortable and nervous

Mirroring – this is a technique which some people use without even knowing they are doing it. Subtly mirroring the interviewers body language may put them at ease and give them the impression you are someone they could get to know and to like. Clearly, mirroring behaviour is easier to do in a 1 to 1 interview rather that a panel interview!

Your travel plans

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Planning your journey in advance of the interview will allow you to arrive on time, and present a more calm and composed demeanour. Some key things to identify are:

Where the interview will take place. Some companies operate across more than one site, so make assumptions on anything and make sure exactly where you need to be

How you are going to get there. If you are driving check the distance or route you will take; the AA route planner tool – planner/classic/planner_main.jsp?the%20aa%20route%20planner tool and Google Maps – (both available as apps) will give you accurate and clear directions and an indication of distance and time if you don’t have a gps system. If the interview will take place in an unfamiliar area and you want to be 100% sure you know the way, make the journey prior to the big day. A useful tip is to make the journey at the exact time you need to attend prior to the day to account for busy periods of traffic that may impede your arrival time. The Highways Agency – offer traffic reports that will give you up to the minute information on delays affecting the roads you will be taking. Also make sure you have checked out parking arrangements in advance. If you are travelling by public transport the website Travel line – and the rail networks Journey Planner tool – will be particularly useful for planning your times, routes and ticket reservations

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your allocated interview time, you can use your waiting time to read any company literature on display, re-read the job spec and role details and finally re-read your application submission

Interview practice

Practising your answers to potential interview questions will help you to remember your answers and to consider examples you can use to provide evidence of your achievements and experience. If you practice with someone else, they can give you feedback and advice ready for your real interview – ask a friend, partner or family member or make an appointment to see one of our careers advisers to go through your prepared answers with you.

Just before your interview

It is natural and normal to be nervous before interviews, but some people suffer more than others. Here are some tips to help you minimise your nerves:

make sure you get a good night’s sleep prior to the interview day

ensure you eat well and do not skip meals prior to the interview

prepare your interview outfit in advance, making sure it is clean and crease-free

allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel to the interview

arrive early

take deep slow breaths if you start to feel panicky

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answering a question badly can make you feel very nervous to proceed. If you did not understand or hear a question correctly then ask the interviewer to repeat themselves or clarify their request, and ask for a little time to consider the question if you do not feel confident to answer it immediately

After your interview

reflecting on your interview performance

Interviews provide you with a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you come across to others. Reflection can aid your future performance – following the interview, ask yourself:

“Which questions did I answer well, and why?”

Which questions did i struggle to answer, and why?”

“Would I want to work for the organisation?”

“Why am I attracted/not interested in the job?”

Remember to ask for feedback from the interview panel – many companies offer you feedback either when they tell you the result of your interview or in the ensuing weeks. It is important that you take this feedback well. Don’t argue or disagree, you have asked their opinion so it is important to respect their comments and use it constructively to help you plan future interview situations.

Use your own reflections and any feedback from the interview panel, consider what you could improve upon.

Receiving a job offer

Following a successful interview, If you are offered a job, you will need to decide whether you want to accept it or not. You will have been considering this already, and may know what you want, but if you are struggling to reach a decision here are some factors that could help you to make up your mind:

Is it a job that I want to do?

(if you have met them) will i enjoy working with the people in my team?

what are the financial benefits? (As well as salary, think about additional benefits such as pension, bonus, car, shares, health cover etc)

where is the job located?

what impact will this move have upon me and my family?

will it help to make me more employable by other companies?

Is it a sensible decision for my long term career plans?

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You’ll be able to think of others that are relevant to your individual situation.

If the terms and conditions, including salary aren’t finalised then this is the best time for you to negotiate – you know that they want you, but they don’t yet know whether they’ve got you or not! To help you decide upon your position, research:

the market value, in that sector, of someone with your experience and skills

the responsibilities of the role

the package available to you, including pension, bonus, health cover, gym use and other perks if any

Accepting a job

Once you have agreed upon the terms and conditions (including salary), you should receive a letter confirming the job offer. Ideally shortly after then, and hopefully before your first day at work, you should receive a contract of employment which will define issues such as:

pay arrangements

notice period (the amount of time you have to work if you terminate your contract)

probationary period

holiday entitlement

sickness/absence arrangements

disciplinary procedures

These details may also be in the letter confirming your job offer. Make sure you read the documents carefully to check that they match what you have been told. If you have any urgent enquiries, it is important that you raise them with the company’s human resources department or contact as a matter of urgency.

Turning down a job offer

If you decide to turn down a job offer, make sure that you have given sufficient thought to why you have made this decision. When you are sure that you are not going to accept the job, contact the company to tell them this – speak to the person who’s name is on the correspondence offering you the position. They may ask you why you are rejecting their offer, as they will be keen to find out what led someone who was interested enough to make an application and perform well at interview, to change their mind about the role. If you feel able to tell them, it will help them understand your viewpoint – however, if the information is too personal to discuss, then politely tell them that your decision was based on personal reasons.

Not getting the job

If you are told that you have been unsuccessful, make sure you ask for feedback. Not all companies provide feedback, but it helps when they do as you will have a better understanding of where you performed well and where you could improve your performance at a future interview. Not getting the job does not mean that you were a good

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candidate or that you had performed badly – the company clearly thought you had what they were looking for as they had invited you to interview! There may have been an outstanding candidate, who had the skills and experience they were looking for, may even already have done the job and also performed well at interview. Or there may have been a number of candidates who performed well, and the final decision was based on one or two key factors. Find out how you performed, if feedback is available, and you could also ask what it was about the successful candidate that made them the first choice. You may not get your answer and in the interviewer is not obliged to tell you, but it’s worth a try! The more information you get, the better you’ll be able to prepare for future interviews