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Succeeding in job interviews

By May.17, 2013

By Hannah Smith

I have just found myself in the fortunate position of having secured myself a job that will give me relevant work experience for my career goal of being a clinical neuropsychologist. If you’re studying Psychology, you might have a specific career in mind at the moment, the same way I do, and you’ll probably be on the lookout for jobs which will get you on the first rung of the ladder.

I applied for quite a few jobs in the past few months, as with my graduation looming, I wanted to start climbing that ladder as soon as I could. I have had two interviews, including the one for the position I have been offered, and I think the things I learnt from the first one made the difference the second time around. I wanted to share this with other Psychology students at Salford, or anyone else who reads this blog, because interviews aren’t necessarily something we are taught how to prepare for!

In regards to any interview, be it your first or your twenty-first, do your homework. The two interviews I had were both for NHS trusts, and what I found was that each trust will have its own set of values, for example patient focused or accountability. Learn these values, and think of ways in which you already demonstrate similar qualities in your work, studies or personal life. My second interview asked for the values and I was able to recall each of them, as well as go into more depth about what each one meant.

What I’ve learnt from my job hunting process is that the feedback you are offered after an interview is so valuable. Write it down, and read back over it before any other interviews you have. Identify your weaknesses! The feedback I was given after my first interview was that I lacked knowledge around health and safety, as this is obviously important when working within a patient-focused role. Before my second interview, I searched my way around the internet, trying to fill the gaps in my health and safety knowledge. It paid off. Although the question I was asked in my second interview was not obviously about health and safety, it was a scenario question and I was able to identify where the safety risks were and mention these.

Other than the feedback you get from the interview panel, it’s also important to give yourself some feedback. Reflect on what you were asked at interview, how you answered questions, what gaps you think there are in your knowledge. As soon as I came out of my first interview, I knew there were things I should have said, and I wrote these down. I also realised that when giving my answers, I struggled to round them off neatly and ended up repeating myself in an attempt to end what I was saying. I did work on this before my second interview, and when I reflect back on that one, I can see that I improved.

I hope that this helps someone else get their foot in the door of their career path! Just remember to prepare, ask for feedback, reflect on your performance, and learn from it!

Hannah is a final year BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling student, she tweets @hannahbubble and can also be contacted on h.smith4@edu.salford.ac.uk.  

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