My path to interview expertise

Posted on Tuesday 14th January 2014

By Emily Doyle, our Chemistry Events Correspondent

Hi, Emily here. It’s been a busy few months for me, as I’ve been hunting down an Industry Year as part of my degree. After travelling to what feels like every corner of the country for interviews, explaining to about twenty different people why I chose to do a degree in Chemistry, and managing to bring up Hünig's base in two out of three technical interviews because it’s one I know the structure of, I feel ready for the Christmas break! I’ll be sharing with you some short advice based on my experience of the recruitment process for year in industry; I’ve spent more time dealing with this than I care to think about…

  • Firstly, it may seem tempting to only apply for that one placement you’ve got your heart set on, but this will only make it more disappointing if you’re unsuccessful! Of course, don’t apply for something you really can’t see yourself doing either. But, if you’re in two minds about a placement, it’s always better to be offered it and then turn it down that to be two months down the line wishing you had applied for it. 
  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to take advantage of the support Careers Network and the Placements team in the school can offer you! Between CN and the CIE team I received training for application forms, interviews and even the dreaded technical interview. Preparation makes all the difference!
  • This is also true when it comes to actually getting to the interview – the last thing you need on the day is to be worrying about transport. I travelled to an interview in Sandwich, Kent recently, which involved 4 trains and a taxi to get there – and then the same again to get home! The best way of preparing for this is to make a paper list of all your potential train times so you don’t have to rely on having internet access during the day, pre book your taxis when possible, and consider buying an open return so you don’t have to worry about missing your train home if the interview runs over – especially if your interviewer is paying!

Most of all, relax, smile, and try your best to enjoy it!

My experiences have been varied, from a 40 minute interview in the reading room of Haworth to a return journey to Sandwich, Kent (apparently the most awkward place in the country to reach from Birmingham). One of the things I found most enjoyable was the laboratory tours that most assessment centres incorporate – suffice to say that university labs will never look the same again! It’s also been interesting to actually speak to real industrial chemists, and see what their day to day environment is like. While the interview can feel like a bit of a grilling sometimes, it’s also a good opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer – not only does it help to fill the time and move the focus off of you for a moment, but you can also gain some great insights into the business. 

After a few long months of application forms, assessment centres and long train journeys, I am pleased to say that I have secured an exciting placement for next year – I can’t say more than that just yet, but I will keep you posted….