Lifestyle: altrocklife’s first EVER job interview

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I had a job interview earlier this week.  What you won’t know, however, is that interview was my first ever proper job interview! I won’t count the 10 minute interview I had for a shop sales assistant position back in 2012, because my friend and her mum both worked at the shop so I was basically guaranteed to get hired.

It’s safe to say that I was absolutely terrified.  I do get nervous speaking to new people for the first time, and I wasn’t completely sure that I’d done enough preparation.  Plus, the interview was conducted via video online, so a little different to the simulated face-to-face interviews I’d taken part in at university.  Today I thought I’d go over my expectations of the interview vs. the reality.

1 – have some notes in eye view

I think the main advantage of being interviewed over the internet is that you can keep notes of some of the main points you want to cover for reference.  I imagine it’s probably frowned upon to take notes into a face-to-face interview, but you can get away with it if the interview is online!  At the end of the interview I got the dreaded “do you have any questions for me?” question, but thankfully I wrote down what I wanted to ask, just in case nerves caused them to slip my mind.

2 – have examples which could work for a variety of questions

Often in interviews, the interviewer will ask you to describe a scenario in which you worked well as a team, worked well on your own, or demonstrated a particular skill.  I’d already prepared answers for those first two questions, and was completely ready for them – that is, until my interviewer didn’t ask those, and instead asked me to give an example of a time as a journalist where I didn’t take no for an answer.  Thankfully, I was able to take the example I had prepared for a different answer and focus on a different aspect of it, to make the answer fit the question. Phew!

3 – be honest

I would expect that this is an obvious answer, but I thought I’d touch on it just in case.  As part of the interview I had to complete an exercise which required five steps for the answer.  As my interviewer was going over my response, he asked me whether I thought, in hindsight, there was anything I’d missed off of the list.  Frantically I looked over my response, trying to work out what the interviewer was alluding to, but I couldn’t come up with anything.  I admitted as much to the interviewer, asking him to clarify, and as it turns out he looked over my response again he realised that I had actually covered everything he wanted – just out of the ideal order.

If I’d tried to invent something else that could have fit into the answer, I think it would have been blatantly obvious, and would have shown me up for being unsure of myself.  Plus, I could have ended up saying something completely incorrect in the heat of the moment.  I stood by the answers I originally gave, and in the end, it worked out for me.

4 – get into the zone

Even though I was sat in my bedroom whilst being interviewed, I wanted the atmosphere to feel as professional as possible.  I wore office smart clothes (obviously), made my bed, cleared the background of my dirty laundry hamper, and generally tidied up.  I immediately felt like I was in a more productive working environment, and hopefully that came across in the interview.

5 – don’t be afraid to ask for time to think

At one point, I was asked a question which came completely out of the blue – I had no idea that this sort of question would come up!  In order to organise my thoughts, I asked my interviewer if he didn’t mind me taking a minute to think, and he said yes.  This gave me time to properly structure my response, rather than potentially ending up rambling about topics not totally related to the question.  I was taught this trick by my career’s adviser back at university, and they believe asking for a minute to think about your response makes you look considered, rational, and able to handle pressure.

So there you have it! Was this advice helpful? Do you have any other useful interview tips?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.


altrocklife’s Top 10 freshers dos and don’ts

Can you believe it’s that time of year again?  For anyone who has or is attending university, freshers week always stirs up plenty of nostalgia: from memories of doing your first supermarket shop unattended to possibly the worst series of hangovers you will ever have the misfortune to experience.

As a second year student, I like to think I have some useful tips for this year’s incoming freshers – some of these may sound a little Bournemouth-centric, as that’s where I study, but most should be applicable wherever your university is situated.

DO – go to as many events as possible

You don’t want to be that person with hardly any friends because you stayed in your room playing video games during the freshers celebrations.  Even if you’re not a social butterfly, try to aim for at least a couple of friends on your course to make group projects and collecting missed notes easier, and a few drinking buddies for when you find yourself wanting company on a Friday night.

DON’T – overdo it

I know, I know – you’re a fresher, and you feel like you’re invincible.  However, there are only so many Jägerbombs one person can take before you start feeling like death and stop wanting to leave your halls at all.  Plus, nobody likes that guy who gets wasted and starts vomiting outside of clubs before midnight, so avoid that at all costs.  You’ve got an entire week (or longer!) of partying ahead, so no need to go OTT on the first night.

DO – go out with your housemates 

My biggest regret from freshers was only going out with my housemates once.  We didn’t bond very well, so the rest of the year was filled with awkwardness and I could go days without speaking to any of my housemates.  Whether you host pre-drinks at your place, go clubbing together or just grab a meal and a pint at your local pub, make sure you spend a lot of time together – you could create some of your fondest freshers memories.

DON’T – force yourself to spend time with people you don’t get along with

Unfortunately, whenever you meet new people there will always be a select few that you immediately decide that you don’t like, for whatever reason.  There is hope, though: because you’re going to meet so many people during freshers, it should be easy to avoid people you’re not into.  If you have a lot of mutual friends with them, just stay civil and try to avoid drunken bar fights.

DO – join clubs/societies to meet people with similar interests

Fun fact: I didn’t know many people on my course – that is, until I went to a Baking Society meet-up and discovered some of my friends there had two of the same interests as me – food and journalism.  Wearing your favourite band t-shirt on a night out or playing Pokemon in the library might get you a few approving nods, but if you want to find people who like the same things as you, join as many societies as you can.  Even if you’re too busy to attend meet-ups, most will have a Facebook group so you can still interact with other members.

DON’T – spend too much of your student loan

Once that massive deposit of money hits your bank account, it can be all too tempting to splash the cash on a new laptop, a shopping spree, or drinks in the most expensive nightclub in town.  I’m not saying you need to watch every penny – just remember that the money you get in September has got to pay for your rent, food, books, travel, nights out and more until January.

DO – eat real food

Speaking from experience, surviving on microwave meals, toast and 3am kebabs is no way to live.  You’ll start feeling lethargic and tired all the time, plus your hair and skin will suffer and hangovers will feel even worse.  Even if you just eat a piece of fruit with your breakfast or choose veg instead of chips as a side dish when you’re eating out, try and get as many vitamins and nutrients in your body as possible.

DON’T – go out too many times in a row

Freshers events are always packed into a fairly short length of time, meaning once you’ve bought tickets for all the events you’re interested in you could end up going out three or four nights in a row.  It can be tempting to say ‘screw the rules’ and go out every night from Wednesday to Saturday, but what this does is accumulate each night’s drinking into the ultimate Super Hangover on Sunday morning.  If you still want to go to every event, be smart: leave early on the quietest nights, and drink fairly moderately to reduce the Super Hangover’s effects.

DO – take loads of photos

As annoying as the song #SELFIE is, it has a good message – with all the drinking you’re likely to be doing, photos could be the only way you remember who you spent your night with, especially if you met with people you didn’t originally plan on seeing.  Getting people to tag their friends in your photos is also a great way of accumulating Facebook friends and Instagram followers – bonus!

DON’T – feel pressured to drink

As hypocritical as this might sound considering the past nine pieces of advice, if you’re still feeling delicate from the night before or simply have no interest in drinking alcohol, don’t force yourself to drink just to impress your new friends.  Newsflash: everybody is out to impress everyone else, and it’s not just you trying to make new friends.  Your university should have organised plenty of alcohol-free activities during the day to give yourself – and your liver – a break.

What do you think of my advice?  Is there anything obvious I missed?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?A Day To Remember