Day 2 of the programme of “mock interviews” for second year students undertaking Business Management degree courses. This is a compulsory part of the careers module they have to complete and illustrates the universities commitment to the practical development AND implementation of an employability strategy.
The interviews took place on the main campus at the new “re:centre which has excellent facilities even if the building is somewhat sterile. Along with a dozen or so colleagues from public and private sector organisations (who give their time to support the programme) we prepared for a day of interesting and “challenging” interviews.
All the students had been briefed to treat the interview as formal and “dress appropriately” for a business interview. They had also been told to take notes of the feedback given by interviewers so that they could integrate this into their reflective document in their portfolio.
Of the six students I interviewed only two bothered to bring any writing materials to make notes and three of the three male students I saw turned up in jeans, t-shirts, hoodies and trainers. One denied he had been told about “business dress” then eventually admitted he had! Two of the others basically said they could not be bothered although one said he “intended” wearing a suit but it needed cleaning!
The general appearance of the female students (all in traditional Asian / Western dress) was more impressive and acceptable.
The interviews themselves ranged from “not so good” (from one student who admitted he didn’t like the course and really wanted to do a Nursing Degree) to “excellent” and it was obvious that many of the students had prepared for the “competency based” questions.
The two outstanding performers were one young man who had come to the UK 5 years ago from Pakistan and a young man from South Korea who had spent two years doing national service in his country.
As an interviewer it is challenging trying to interview someone from a different culture and spoken English is often significantly less than good. But in a sense this is what makes the day rewarding when you build rapport with these students and manage to communicate with them in a positive way.
My thanks go out again to Elaine and Debbie from the School of Management for such a well organised and positive day………..I just hope the students fully appreciate all the effort that they and their colleagues put in pulling together such an experience for them!
If you feel like participating in such an event, contact your local university and speak to the Career and Employability department to see how you can help. This is one way employers (who are prone to criticising universities for not preparing students for the world of work) can make a significant contribution to helping students make the successful transition from education to the world of work.