CV & Interview Hints & Tips

 

CV Content Guide:

  • This is a guide for the YINI CV Template we ask you to provide as part of the registration process and the document we will use to try and secure company interviews for you.
  • Please do not alter the header & footer sections. Do not add your contact or full address details – we only release this information to companies at the point of offer. Please Do Not change or move the headings around.
  • First section of the CV:

Name

Your First name & Last name

Driving Licence

Full/ Provisional/ None

Location

Your main UK Town/ City of residence

Own Transport

Yes/ None

 

Education

School/ College

The last school or college you attended OR your current school or college

University

University you currently attend OR universities you are applying to

Course/Intended Course

The full name of your current undergraduate course e.g. BEng Mechanical Engineering, your anticipated graduation date with a YINI and your predicted degree outcome e.g. 2.1, 2. 2 etc.

 OR

The name of the Undergraduate course or courses you are or intend to apply for

 

If you intend to apply for apprenticeships as well as or instead of a degree course, state intended Apprenticeship: discipline

 

 

  • Education & Qualifications include all of the following information:
    • For undergraduates, you should list BOTH your first and second year degree module titles and any grades achieved as percentages
    • Students on a Masters course should list their key third year module titles.

 

  • Higher Qualifications – include:
    • Your A level or A level equivalents (clearly state what kind of exam this is e.g. BTEC/ HND/ Advanced Highers/ other), the subject names and EITHER your achieved OR predicted grades (not both)
    • Pre-university students should include a full list of their GCSE/ Equivalent qualifications and grades achieved
    • Undergraduates should add a summary of their GCSE or equivalent qualifications.

 

  • IT Skills
    • List all the IT packages/ software languages you are familiar with (name individual Microsoft Office programs – Word, Excel etc.). Give examples of how/ when you have used them and give an indication of your proficiency. E.g. I have used the advanced features of Excel extensively throughout my studies.
    •  Include knowledge of and experience with hardware, software, firmware, networks, operating Systems, databases etc. E.g I built my own PC; I have used the following operating system/ database. I have taught myself C++.

 

  • Additional Skills and Achievements:
    • Include Competencies (team working, problem solving, communication, presentations etc.)
    • Include knowledge or experience with workshop or lab equipment and processes. Give specific examples e.g. Lathe, titration equipment, engine maintenance.
    • Include brief details of any relevant school/ university project work – highlighting your personal contribution and learning outcomes
    • Each skill stated should be supported with a brief personal example to illustrate the skills/ knowledge.
    • Include details of any other schemes e.g. EES, Headstart, Arkwright etc. Give brief project outlines; emphasise what you did/ learnt
    • Detail the languages you speak with your proficiency level, including English if this is not your first language. E.g. I can speak and write German at an advanced level; I have a basic understanding of Arabic etc.
    • Any other relevant courses (E.g. First Aid, H&S, Industry standards)
    • Any significant achievements Academic or extracurricular.

 

  • Positions of Responsibility:
    • Any extra-curricular responsibility e.g. mentoring
    • Any extra responsibility at work e.g. cashing up
    • Any leadership or team responsibilities e.g. Team Captain
    • If you cannot think of content for this section, delete this heading

 

  • Work Experience/ Employment History:
    • Any paid, full time or part time employment or voluntary work. Include dates and duration of each experience (e.g. 1 month in the summer of 2015; Feb 2014 to Aug 2014; Feb 2015 – present etc.)
    • Give a brief outline of your duties and any learning points.
    • At this stage – it’s all relevant, including your paper round – list in order starting with the most recent OR the most relevant if you already have some industry experience.
  • Career Statement:
    • Think of this as a personal statement which will tell a company manager:
      • Why you want to complete a placement
      • What you want to get out of the experience
      • How it will benefit you in the short and medium term
      • What you will bring to the company
    • You should demonstrate enthusiasm for your subject and relevant interests but avoid being too narrow or prescriptive. This CV will be used for potentially several applications and we cannot guarantee a particular company; we are looking for a discipline relevant placement to develop transferrable skills. Your long term career goal may be to design and build a mini death start to orbit Mars but your YINI placement will be with a company concerned with more terrestrial business projects. They are looking for students who will both benefit from and be interested in the placements they are offering in their particular sector. They may be looking for potential candidates for their graduate intake in a few years.
    • This statement should be no more than 3 or 4 sentences long, so make it concise and relevant.
  • Hobbies and Interests:
    • Include any discipline related interests or pastimes. E.g. take things apart& sometimes fix electrical gadgets; carry out your own bike or car maintenance.
    •  Club, Society or affiliate/ student professional Institute membership
    • Sports interests and activities
    • Other interests/ schemes or projects
    • Don’t make things up to impress – you will be found out!
    • This section should be brief – if it is longer than your career plans statement, you need to re-think it.

General Tips:

  • Do check for spelling and grammar mistakes – get someone else to read it through.
    • Some employers will reject a CV on spelling & grammar mistakes alone
  • Do use positive business language and statements. Achieved; possess, created, delivered, established etc.
    • Avoid phrases like: I believe, I hope, I think
    • Avoid using abbreviations and contractions e.g. I’ve, I’d
    • Avoid conversational language
    • Avoid using obscure words unless you know what they mean and what context to use them in.
    • Avoid bland, generic statements. Make it personal.
  • Do Use the first person NOT the third person.
  • All qualification and grade statements must be accurate – a company may well ask for certificates and/ or transcripts at the point of offer.
  • Do - use short statements and bullet points where appropriate. Make it easier for a potential employer to pick out relevant information: What you know, have achieved, demonstrated and can do.
    • Avoid big chunks of dense text – they won’t be read. This is a CV, not an essay assignment. You have approximately 5 seconds to catch a recruiter’s attention before they move onto the next CV in the pile.
    • Provide highlights, key information and talking points, not the full story.
  • NB: YOUR CV SHOULD BE NO MORE THAN TWO PAGES LONG.

All the CVs we send out to companies are in the same format, simplifying the process for potential employers. However, the content is your own, so it is worth spending some time in making this a document to ‘sell’ yourself as effectively as possible. Remember, you will be competing with other Year in Industry students for interview opportunities.

 

THE POSITIVE INTERVIEW GUIDE

 

This guide is based on cumulative experience and feedback from company managers. YINI students rarely fail an interview on academic ability but lack of preparation is a common fault and one that can easily be addressed, so please read these notes carefully!

Before the interview:

1) PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION!

Research the company web site and job profile thoroughly (and the sector generally if you have time).  Re-read your CV before the interview and have questions to ask at the interview.

 

2) ON THE DAY

Dress appropriately and smartly.  If in doubt, dress conservatively – try not to stand out too much!  NO casual wear or trainers!

Lads – polished shoes, shirt and tie, jacket if you have one or a suit.  Avoid bulky coats or comedy ties.

Girls – as above (not necessarily a tie), avoiding short skirts keeping make up to minimum.

Generally if you wear it for clubbing, it is probably not right.  Check all clean and ironed the night before.

 

DO NOT BE LATE!  Know where you are going (check your route) and allow yourself plenty of time to get there.  If you are delayed i.e. traffic – ring the company to explain.  Remember the interview starts from the moment you arrive on the company premises and doesn’t end until you leave.  The receptionist/secretary may be asked for an opinion.

 

3) AT THE INTERVIEW

Take off your coat.  Give a brief firm handshake and don’t be afraid to smile! You are pleased to be there; it’s an exciting opportunity.  Sit up straight and look at the interviewer.  Speak clearly, don’t fidget and be yourself.

 

Take a copy of your CV and record of achievement along, and use them as a memory jogger.  Offer the interviewer a copy. (Take certificates of achievements you are proud of and examples of projects you have completed. NB: not a suitcase full or tatty carrier bag, but an A4 folder)

 

Be friendly, polite and enthusiastic.  You need to let the interviewer know that you really want the job.  Ask questions about the placement and company.

Show interest and be positive.  Avoid yes/no answers but don’t waffle.

 

Listen to the question and think before you speak.  Have questions ready to ask when prompted.

When the interview is coming to an end, thank the interviewer for seeing you.  Re-state your interest and ask when decisions will be madeIt is ok to do this; it shows you really are interested.

 

4) AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Contact YINI and tell us how it went and what you thought about the placement and the company.

 

If you are offered the job

Ask yourself whether you are genuinely excited about the prospect of working for the company for a year and talk to your Year in Industry contact.  Do not wait several weeks before saying ‘no’.  There may be another student who genuinely wants this job. Try to make your decision within a week of the offer being made.

 

If you are not offered the job

Review you performance objectively with yourself and ask your YinI office for any useful feedback. Treat it as a learning experience and don’t be disheartened – not every interview will result in an offer.

 

 

5) TYPICAL QUESTIONS FROM COMPANY INTERVIEWERS

 

Education

Tell us about: Your predicted exam or module results; what you got out of school or university; your reasons for wanting to study your chosen course. 

 

Competency based questions

Communication, problem solving, team working etc. You should be able to give personal examples of when you have employed or developed these skills. Avoid generic answers.

 

Technical Questions

You should expect to be asked: Questions of a technical nature relating to the role/the product/the sector and your current studies. If it’s a topic you are not fully familiar with, do your research beforehand. You are not expected to be an expert but you should be able to demonstrate you have researched a relevant topic, have an understanding of it and a willingness to learn. Be Prepared!

 

Interests/ activities

You may be asked: How do you use your spare time?  Activities you have organised; your interests and hobbies; what have you gained from these activities – i.e. Duke of Edinburgh, football/rugby team etc.

Any interests that compliment your studies?

 

Work experience (including any paid, part-time, voluntary work)

You may be asked: What did you learn? (Your list should include things like: developed team working & communication skills – things that employers value)  Did you have to deal with any awkward people? (can you keep your cool and diffuse awkward situations or do you know when to involve a supervisor?) Are you a good team member etc?

What aspects of the work did you enjoy most?  What did you learn/achieve?

 

 

General Questions may include:

 

  • What do you want out of a placement, your studies and your longer term career aspirations? This is not the time to tell them you want to take over the world!
  • What are they looking for? Try to steer your answers towards this. You can’t pretend to be someone else but you do want to secure an offer.
  • How would you sum up your strengths (i.e. do you know what you are good at?– identify things an employer would find useful. 
  • Why are you interested in this placement?  What other placements are you applying for?  Why should I employ you? What can you offer the company? 
  • What are your weaknesses?  NB: for this one, think of something you had a problem with but have already found a solution for – turn a negative into a positive – they don’t want to know what you are bad at – they want to know if you are capable of self review/identifying problems or challenges and coming up with solutions or strategies to deal with issues. Think of a personal example.

 

Most employers today will also want to see evidence of these core skills:

Communication; teamwork; initiative; innovation; problem solving and personal development.

Think of personal examples where you have used or demonstrated these skills and incorporate them into the answers you give.

 

Company managers are looking for:

Enthusiastic students who are genuinely interested in working for their company, working with professional teams and learning as much as possible; are knowledgeable about their chosen study subject, beyond simply being able to pass exams; have a ‘can do attitude’ and are motivated by the desire to: learn; experience the working environment; inform their career choices and make a positive lasting impression on the company and colleagues when the placement is complete. Your answers to interview questions should reflect these qualities. Research and practice are essential.

 

 

6) YOUR QUESTIONS:

 

Make a list & take it with you in your A4 portfolio - Ask about the company, the placement, what your daily tasks might be; what kind of projects you might be working on; what kind of on the job training would be provided. This is a chance to demonstrate you’ve done some research! If you find your questions have already been answered at the end of the interview – say so: ‘I had a list of questions but you have covered most of them’

Finally: when will I find out if I have been successful? – tells a manager you are interested!

 

NB - This is NOT the time to ask about holiday entitlement and DON’T mention salary unless this is mentioned by the interviewer first! These are details we can clarify at the point of offer. (If indeed we have not already provided you with this information).

 

THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE BUT IF YOU HAVE CONSIDERED ANSWERS FOR THESE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO IMPROVISE A RESPONSE TO MOST INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.

 

Please do contact your Regional YINI office (See contact page) if you would like to discuss your company interview. We will be delighted to help. You can also visit this useful link: http://www.careersbox.co.uk/  where you can watch 3 short films to help you prepare for interviews (find the BT Level 1 Application and level 7 Interview techniques movie under the latest films listings). Other links;

http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/commonquestions.htm

http://www.interview-skills.org.uk/interview-nerves/how-to-overcome-interview-nerves.htm

 

An internet search will also produce a wealth of source material with advice on how to succeed at interviews – so do have a look at a few other resources on the subject at least.