Guest Blog: The Ultimate Guide to Video Interviews

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

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We all want to get that brilliant graduate job, but knowing how to present yourself to employers can be challenging, especially on video. This is our guide to acing video interviews. Whether you’re a graduate or making a career change, this is the guide for you.

What is a Video Interview?

In today’s ever-changing world, video interviews are becoming more and more common. Depending on which survey you read, at least 60% of companies are now using video interviews at some stage in their hiring process. There are many books for graduates on how to excel in an interview – but what if all you have is a screen? This can actually be to your advantage. This guide will teach you how to excel in your video interview, so that you can land your dream job.

There are two different types of video interviews; Live, and One-way.

A ‘live’ interview is when you and your employer talk in real time, as you would in an in-person interview. The benefit of a live interview is that you can build rapport with the interviewer, and gain an immediate sense of the company’s culture.

A one-way interview is when you are sent the pre-set questions, and given a timeframe in which to respond with a video recording of yourself answering them. The benefit of a one-way interview is that you have time to think through your answers.

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

When preparing for a video interview, the lighting is essential. You may answer the questions well, but if the interviewer is struggling to make you out you will leave a bad impression. Using lamps in your room, make sure your face is clear and well lit – open up your webcam and check how you look from the cameras perspective.

What you sit in front of when you do the video interview is very important. Your background needs to be clean, neat, and uncluttered. Remover everything you can, so that there is nothing to distract the interviewer from your answers. If you can find a plain white or cream wall, that is best. How you dress is also important. If you are applying for an internship at a start-up that advertises a fun company culture on their website, don’t wear a suit and tie. If you are applying to a law firm, a suit and tie is best. Here is a link with a list of roles and the best way to dress appropriately to help you get hired.

Rehearsing your answers is the most essential preparation you can do to be recruited. There’s a reason actors rehearse scenes, and sport  professionals train for the big race. On the day, when the spot-light is on you and it’s your turn to shine – you need to be prepared. Have a look at this list of general interview questions to practice answering. As well as rehearsing these, brainstorm other questions you could be asked, and practice your answers to those too.

TIP: It is important you sit in the chair you will be interviewed in, in your interview clothes, with the lighting on, looking directly into the camera while you rehearse. Actors rehearse their lines on set so their mind and body learn how to perform together. You need to rehearse your lines on set, so that in the interview you look natural, feel confident, and know exactly what you are going to say.

‘I experienced a video interview when going through the application process to get my job here at Inspiring Interns. I was surprised how well it worked! The interview went really well, and through video I got a very clear idea of Inspiring Interns, the people and the great company culture. A video interview made more sense than a standard interview as it saved a lot of time in travel. I lived in the North of England, so travelling to London would have been very time consuming. My number one tip is treat it exactly like a face-to face-interview; dress to impress, use positive body language and make sure you’re in a quiet environment.’ – Tyler Milner Marketing Executive

Technology needed for Video Interviews

To conduct a video interview, you will need a webcam, headphones, and microphone – all of good quality. Most laptops come with these, but not all are good. Test the quality of yours with friends (on a skype call or google hangout). If the image or sound isn’t good enough, it is worth investing in buying a webcam or headphones with a microphone. This link compares the best webcams, and this one compares the best headphone/microphone combinations.

Ideally, be connected to the router physically rather than using Wi-Fi. If you only have access to Wi-Fi, make sure you’re not more than a few meters away from the router to ensure a strong internet connection. We recommend troubleshooting your internet connection so that you can be assured the call won’t disconnect or lag during your interview. If you have a Mac, click here for the steps to troubleshoot. If you are using windows software, click here. Also, make sure no one else will be using the Wi-Fi at the same time as your video interview. To check the speed of your internet, use Ookla Speedtest.

‘Based on seven years’ experience arranging interviews, some of which have been online, we often hear from employers how much they love video interviews. They save them time, while still giving a clear impression of the candidate and a sense that it’s a real interview – as opposed to a phone call.’ – Benedict Hazan, Head of Innovation

Tips and Tricks for the Interview

When choosing your outfit, avoid wearing anything white. It can come across as distractingly bright.

Body language speaks louder than words – if you say you are confident while slouching and shifting your gaze, the interviewer will not believe you.

Posture – sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, and back. Look directly at the webcam (make sure you rehearse this while practicing your answers). Check out this link which shows poses to do before your interview to increase your confidence.

Before the interview, remind yourself how amazing you are. We live in a culture which doesn’t encourage us to feel proud of ourselves – forget about that for the moment. Who cares what society thinks. You are amazing. You’ve achieved things, felt nervous and done them anyway, and produced good work. Be proud of who you are.

Be proud of the value you can add to a company. Many graduates go into an interview hoping to get the internship, and hoping to get paid well, while feeling on a lower level than the interviewer. Realize that they are interviewing you because of the potential value you can add their company. And they’re not the only ones interviewing – you should be interviewing them as well. Ask questions to find out whether it’s a company you would actually enjoy working for. This will impress them, and give you the information you need to know whether you would want to accept the job or not.

As an internship recruitment agency we love graduates who come in passionate, confident, and asking questions to make sure the job is the right fit for them long-term. Here is Nicole’s success story to show you the internship possibilities waiting around the corner for you.

Checklists

Setting up the space:

– Lighting

– Comfortable chair

– Appropriate clothes

– Clean uncluttered background.

Equipment checklist:

– Camera

– Headphones and mic

– The program you will be interviewed through (likely to be skype or google hangout).

Preparation:

– Rehearse your answers

– Do the powerful postures

– Remember you are interviewing them too.

Guest blog by Catherine Moolenschot from Inspiring Interns

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Guest blog: How to Write the Ultimate CV

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

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Your CV is the crucial first step to getting your desired graduate job. As a graduate in a competitive job market, you need to be thinking about how you can make your job applications stand out. Here are five tips to finding the right blend of professionalism and personality:

Relevance

The key when writing your CV is to make sure it’s relevant to the roles you’re applying for. Essential information like your degree, university and work experience should be instantly accessible to the reader. A recruiter could look at your CV for a matter of seconds, so the information needs to be clear and easy to locate. There is no specific rule determining which should come first on your CV: experience or education. Consider which facts are most relevant. As a recent graduate, it’s likely that you will want to draw attention to your degree over your experience. However, if you do have relevant work experience, this needs to be brought to the reader’s attention. For example, if you did a humanities degree but are looking to get into marketing and have previous experience in CMS or social media management; your experience is more relevant so should feature above your degree. If you have done a placement as part of your degree, you should highlight this also. Don’t just write a list, explain the skills you have learnt and developed as a result.

Personality

In order to stand out from the crowd in the job hunt, it’s important to express personality in your applications. Use your CV as a platform to showcase your skills – whether that’s creating an infographic rather than a traditional CV as a graphic design graduate, or adding links to articles you’ve had published as an aspiring content creator. Avoid generic statements about being a “team player” with “good communication skills” and focus on facts you can support. As a volunteer or member of a university society for example, you can demonstrate how you honed these skills. This is also a good opportunity to emphasise success you might have had in these areas. Incorporate the use of numbers where possible when describing your achievements. By how much did you exceed your targets? How many hits did your blog accumulate?

Avoid errors

It seems simple enough to avoid basic errors in your CV, from spelling mistakes to dodgy grammar, but it isn’t something you can overlook. Check, check and check again, then send it to a parent or a friend to read it with a fresh pair of eyes. One mistake could halter your chances of reaching the interview stage, if your lack of attention to detail fails to back up those claims of “excellent written and spoken English”. Keep paragraphs short and text succinct. Beginning paragraphs with action words like “Presented to” rather than “I presented” gets straight to the point and avoids overuse of “I”. Bullet points can help break down information and make it easy for the reader to digest.

Layout and format

A clean, simple layout with each section clearly labelled is ideal. The use of links to websites, online portfolios, blogs or previous projects is welcomed by employers and increasingly popular as graduates look to build up a strong online presence. A CV longer than two pages is unnecessary, particularly if you are a recent graduate with limited experience. Save your document as a Word or PDF file, and remember to change the title each time you edit your CV. Avoid saving it as anything generic like ‘CV for internship applications’ and focus on quality over quantity.

Start with your name and contact details, followed by a short personal statement. Keep your experience and qualifications towards the beginning of the document and interests and achievements towards the end. Although less significant, your interests and achievements shouldn’t be overlooked. Highlight your passions and personal attributes, whether they set you apart from other candidates or offer a conversation starter in an interview. A company is looking to find a match for their culture and values, as much as they are keen to find the right skills.

Video CV

Finally, consider going digital. Check out Inspiring Interns – the pioneers of video CVs – to find out more about filming a video CV and how it can boost your employability.

Guest blog by Catherine Moolenschot from Inspiring Interns

Guest Blog: 10 Things to Do at University to get a Graduate Job

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

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There are a number of thing you can do outside of the classroom during your time at university that will help towards securing your dream graduate job.

Volunteer

Volunteering abroad is a great experience and looks great on your CV – and so does volunteering locally. Approach your university, local charities and not-for-profit organisations to gain relevant industry experience. For other industries, network professionally and set up a week’s work shadowing during reading week, or two days a week at a local agency.

Get part-time work

A part-time job gives you the facts and figures to back up your well-written graduate CV, and you never know what connections you’ll make through your work.

Make the most of media

Contribute to university media outlets. There are multiple opportunities ready for the taking on campus, including: writing for the university newspaper, hosting or producing a university radio/TV show or getting involved in the annual fashion show.

Take on a Responsible Role

Consider holding a position of responsibility within a society or at the student’s union. This will tick the voluntary and the work experience box on your CV and enhance your people and communication skills.

Play a sport

Represent your university at national and international competitions, or just play for fun. Playing a sport show’s future employers that you’re proactive, a team player and passionate about something other than work or education.

Sales

A lot of graduates avoid doing sales, but it is some of the best experience you can get. Sell tickets for university events and develop your negotiation and relationship building skills. A lot of careers involve working with people, so being able to communicate effectively is often essential.

Social media

Create a strong profile on LinkedIn and check your privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re looking for a job in the creative industries, get involved with Pinterest, Instagram, follow what’s going on in the industry, and contribute.

Blog

This is particularly relevant if you’re thinking about a career in PR, marketing, editorial or otherwise. Improve and promote your writing skills and show an employer you’re willing to invest time in a project. Go one step further and use Google Analytics to track your blog’s progress and quote these stats in an interview if you hit a large number of sessions on your site. Sites like wordpress are free and easy to use.

Start your own business

This may sound like a huge undertaking, but it can be part-time. Tutor other students, sell things on eBay, get involved in competitions seeking entrepreneurs and put your ideas forward to gain feedback, visibility in the industry, media and potentially funding.

Guest blog by Catherine Moolenschot from Inspiring Interns

Guest blog: Understanding Your Salary

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

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When looking for a job, you’ll no doubt be searching for something that you’d love to do or an employer you’d love to work for but, most likely, your eye is first drawn to the amount you’re going to get paid. That’s pretty understandable, after living off supermarket branded beans for the past few years. But do you know how much money you’ll actually be earning?

It’s easy to forget that the amount you’re offered won’t actually be the amount you get to take home. Depending on how much you earn, there’ll be payments such as tax and student loan repayments to think about. You may even be eligible for the work place pension scheme that you will automatically need to pay into.

So how do you work out what you can expect to actually get paid? Using an online salary calculator (available here) is a quick and easy way to do so. It’ll calculate your take-home pay so you know exactly how much money you can expect to see in your bank account each month – after deductions have been made.

Once your take-home pay has been calculated, you’ll be able to work out what you can afford on that salary. Consider how much rent you’ll be paying, travel costs and other essential items. You may find that the given salary isn’t quite as much as you first thought.

Money isn’t everything when it comes to finding a job but getting to grips with understanding your true salary will mean that you’re better prepared to handle your finances when it comes to securing your first job.

Guest blog by Christina Hirst on behalf of NatWest

Santander Internships at the Tibet Relief Fund

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Kathryn Smith, Deputy Director at the Tibet Relief Fund, has recently joined the Santander Internship Scheme by hiring a SOAS student. Speaking about her positive experience with the scheme, Kathryn let us know the following:

“In short, SOAS has made the Santander internship scheme extremely easy for us. It feels like, as an organisations, we have had to do very little work ourselves fand the result has been better than we could have hoped for! Both Leonie and The Internship Officer has been great at sorting as much of the details and making arrangements as possible. We were originally only looking to take one intern, but the quality of the potential interns presented to us were extremely high and made us wish we could have taken on more!

Having students from SOAS is especially good for us as an International organisation as students tend to have a strong interest in both the area and cause of our work. This makes it great for us as we don’t have to sell the issue (so to speak) but also interesting for the intern. Our current intern also had several language skills which have allowed her to do research that perhaps a student from a different organisation may have been unable to do.

The Santander Internship scheme has worked perfectly. It gave us a hard working, fun and reliable intern who did just what we needed her to. As a small organisation, we didn’t have much budget,  however, the Santander scheme gave a great opportunity for us to be able to hire an intern without having to find a massive amount of funds to cover the cost.

In fact, we’ve had such a good experience with the scheme, we’re in the process of considering if we can take on a second SOAS intern!”

Alexis Fromageot

 

UN Talk on Campus & #changeyourworld Winners

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Thanks to everyone who came to our Working for the UN Talk in the Brunei Lecture Theatre last night, it was great to see such a big turnout! John Ericson, Chief of the Outreach Unit in the Office of Human Resources Management of the United Nations Secretariat in New York delivered the informative talk and was on hand for a lively Q&A session afterwards. The event was filmed, and available on the SOAS Careers pages on Moodle.

To celebrate the UN coming to campus, SOAS Careers service offered SOAS students the chance to have tea with John Ericson before his talk. As we encourage students to ‘change your world’, we asked you to show us a time that you have done so! To enter, we asked students to upload a photo about a time that you have changed someone else’s world in the past year and tag it with #changeyourworld. This could be during a great internship, volunteering or work placement that they had been involved in, or anything else that has led to them changing another’s world.

The competition opened on 14 October, and ran for three weeks. We were overwhelmed with the quality and number of photos entered, along with the interest on social media.

The winner was decided by a panel of judges from SOAS, comprised of:

– Director & Reader Centre for International Studies & Diplomacy, Dr Dan Plesch

– Director Marketing, Student Recruitment and Communications, Susan Roth

– Photographer, Marketing & Student Recruitment, Glenn Ratcliffe

– Head of SOAS Careers Service, Philippa Hewett.

The judges were all awed at the quality of photos presented. Speaking about the competition, Philippa Hewett said: “It was a great privilege to be part of the judging panel and to see SOAS students making a real difference in the world. There are people in these photos who will always remember what was done for them, and I think we should all feel really proud to be part of an institution which teaches so many amazing people”.

After careful deliberation, the judges were so impressed with the entries that they selected 2 winning images. As it was such a hard decision to make and as the judges were so impressed with the entries, the Careers Service has decided to professionally print and frame all the photos entered to display in around Room 101.

The winning photos are:

Florence’s (MSc Development Studies, Graduating 2016) photo was taken in Sierra Leone. She travelled there with an ex-child soldier from Rwanda, who wanted to go and meet with child soldiers from Sierra Leone. The aim was to see how to best help those suffering following the civil war. They visited a ‘ghetto’ of ex-child soldiers, built on a rubbish heap by the port. Deep in the slum they found ex-rebels, who lived in this tunnel. They spoke about their experiences and the group discussed ways to help.

Georgina’s (MSc Development Economics, Graduating 2016) photo was taken in Chile at a march calling for the liberalisation of abortion laws. She spent the summer researching the effects of restrictive abortion laws on maternal health at the Human Rights Centre in Santiago, thanks to a scholarship from Santander. The results of the research will be presented at a special hearing at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington D.C.

Both winners had tea and a lengthy chat in the Careers Service with John Ericson, Chief of the Outreach Unit in the Office of Human Resources Management of the United Nations Secretariat in New York before his talk at SOAS on Wednesday 18 November.

 Alexis Fromageot

5 woes of student job hunting (and how to fix them)

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk
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For the lucky few, nailing a graduate job can be done and dusted during ad breaks. For everyone else in the real world, Save the Student takes a look at some silver linings to common problems.

1. You’re short on work history 

There are only so many ways you can make your bar job relevant to Accounting, and you’ve exhausted them.

Fix: Getting work experience can be as hard as getting a job outright – but there’s some employment history you can earn for yourself. Customer service, planning, budgeting, design, social media and commercial skills are all just as valid if you get them from your own business as someone else’s. Starting a student enterprise or freelancing can pay out (literally, as well as in experience), and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Organising walking tours, volunteering or online tutoring – and these 47 other student start-ups – all count.

2. You find mistakes – after you press ‘send’

You spend days crafting a cover letter worthy of George RR Martin, and then send it addressed to the last person you emailed. Ouch.

Fix: Some email programs let you recall an email once you’ve sent it – you can even set Gmail to delay sending by a few minutes in case you change your mind. Other than that, there’s not much you can do except suck it up – and learn from your mistakes.

  •  Unless the job closes in the next five seconds, leave your application at least overnight: it’s always easier to spot howlers with a fresh pair of eyes.
  •  Proofread your letters or CV from the bottom up, one sentence at a time – your brain can’t fool you into seeing what you think you wrote as easily.
  •  For online application forms, compose and spell check your answers in a word processing programme first – you’ll have a back-up the form times out, too.
  • Have someone else read your application before you send it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

3. You don’t get responses

Submitting applications can be like sending them into a bottomless pit, and then you never hear anything. Ever.

Fix: It’s harder for people to ignore you if they know you. If you only ever make anonymous applications online, you may be missing a trick: Networking is reportedly more effective in finding work than job applications alone.

  • Ask someone doing a job you’d like about their role or career route (or get a career mentor – the careers service can help you find one)
  • Go to company talks, events or launches (and speak to people!)
  • Sniff out relevant professional groups – trade associations or social clubs – and go to meet-ups
  • If your family or friends know someone interesting, ask them to put you in touch.

Networking isn’t about asking for a job, it’s about getting info. You could get valuable CV pointers from someone who knows the industry inside out, advice about further training – and possibly a heads-up when they do have vacancies. If there’s not much going on locally, you can start online: try Twitter or LinkedIn (which has tons of career advice and professional groups, too).

4. You don’t get interviews

You’ve got CVs in a whole range of fonts, styles and clip art, but you still don’t get invites. Why, oh, why?

Fix: Your application should answer two questions: Who are you, and why are you essential to this role? If something doesn’t answer those questions, leave it out. While you’re at it:

  • Read the job ad and use the same keywords when talking about your employment history or skills
  • Don’t just say what you did, show how you did it and what difference you made
  • Make sure you address all the criteria on the job ad
  • Make the most of your cover letter: it should be a compelling introduction over a couple of paragraphs, not a Tweet.

5. You don’t get feedback

Whether it’s your CV or your dazzling interview performance, some companies just don’t do feedback. You don’t know where you stand or, worse, know you didn’t get the job but have no clue what went wrong.

Fix: Remember that it’s often not personal. There could be any number of other reasons, from there already being a preferred candidate to the luck of the draw.

  • Set your own deadline: if you don’t hear anything in that time you can assume it’s a ‘no’ and get on with your life. (Already had an interview? It’s OK to call for an update – and show you’re still keen)
  • Have your CV, cover letter or interview technique critiqued by a mentor or careers advisor instead – and tackle any issues that come up
  • Make notes as soon as possible after interviews. What went well? Which questions tripped you up? What would you do differently?
  • Don’t get hung-up on employer feedback: not meeting key criteria, or not making it obvious enough on your CV that you do, are things you can (and should) find out for yourself. You can then concentrate on landing the next job rather than dwelling on the one that got away.

Looking for a job can be full-time work in itself – only unpaid and twice as brutal. It’s easy to get discouraged after the first few applications, but find ways to keep going. Keep learning, earning (see point one above) and take breaks when you need to, whether it’s a night away from scouring job ads or a whole weekend slobbing out. For even the most qualified folk, job hunting can be part numbers game: you’ll need perseverance to win this lotto.

Ruth Bushi, Editor, Save the Student

What I’d wish I’d known: Benjamin Dix

Benjamin Dix is a professional photographer and has worked as a Communications Manager for the UN and NGOs across Asia and Africa for the past 12 years. Ben was based in Vanni, Sri Lanka with the UN from 2004 until the UN evacuations in 2008. He has a BA in Political Geography of South Asia (SOAS 2002), an MA in Anthropology of Conflict and Violence (Sussex 2011) and is currently writing his Doctorate in Anthropology: Artistic Representation of Violence (Sussex).

In 2002 Benjamin founded PositiveNegatives to use multimedia and traditional forms of art to represent global conflict, humanitarian and migration issues to a wide and diverse audience. PositiveNegatives is building a portfolio of projects for clients such as the BBC, The Guardian, UN and Arts Council England

Are Internships necessary to secure a role in your sector?
For the Art sector getting any volunteering or work experience opportunity is a good way to learn how to communicate well with clients. My experience at the UN and with international media houses taught me how to use appropriate business language when engaging with people. When I was eighteen I worked as a trainee window dresser at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and also as an assistant photographer for a year where I learnt advertising photography. I then had the opportunity to work in India as a photographer where I used those skills. I was the 1st current SOAS student invited to exhibit my photographs at the Brunei Gallery of an exhibition of the Indian festival, Maha Kumbha Mela, in 2002.

What is the most interesting project you have worked on?
My current project is focused on the Syrian Refugee crisis. Many people’s experience of refugees in the past is that of people coming from different worlds, such as poverty stricken environments. When interviewing Syrians you find that they are people who have degrees, professional qualifications, businesses and many are very well positioned in society, but are now finding themselves as a refugee community. Our perceived security in this world is precarious. What has happened, and is happening in Syria has ramifications on the world. For more information please note the following events:
• 12 November. Launch of A Perilous Journey. The Guardian, London
• 12 November. Launch of A Perilous Journey. Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo
• 13 November. Panel Discussion, A Perilous Journey. Tronsmo Bookshop, Oslo.

What advice would you give to students?
After 20 years in photography and journalism and having worked with the BBC, the UN, various NGOs my key advice would be:
• Keep contacts alive: It is important to stay in touch with people. If you are looking for your work to be published regularly by international broadcasters, then you have to be present in people’s lives. Meet them, update them and get to know them…
• Your address book:
It is your most important business tool. You can use your smart phone to run your business successfully
• Only produce quality work:
When working with clients or business only put out high quality work. You want to build a transparent, trustworthy and professional reputation, as someone who produces work of a high standard and within time and budget constraints
• Don’t be scared of change and maintain your integrity in your work.

Diana Omololu
Careers Consultant