Once you’ve completed that all important application, the next thing you’ve got to tick off your check list is the interview, or consultation as we like to call it. We call it a consultation because it’s more of an informal chat than an interview. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie, and you don’t need to be nervous beforehand! We asked some of our tutors and course team leaders what they look for in candidates in the consultation, and we’ve come up with some handy tips to prepare you for the day.
1. It’s not all about your grades! 🥇
Yes we ask you for your predicted GCSE grades, but we are by no means judging you by them. We just need to know what level of qualification would suit you best so we know you won’t struggle with the amount and level of work. Yes, your grades are important, but they are not the be all and end all of your education. Simon Cohl, head of school of business and management, said: “We use the consultation process to see the application as a whole person, rather than just a series of application form notes and exam grades”. Remember that our entry requirements are there to check that you’ll be able to cope with your chosen course. We know from experience what demands are made of students on each course, and what makes a successful student. Kieran Grimes, head of school of care and access, advised: “Grades are important due to accessing the appropriate level of programme, however they are not the only area we look for. We are looking for commitment, stick-ability, sustainability and resilience to see the study programme through to the end”.
2. Keep cool, calm and collected ⛄️
We know the thought of an interview can be nerve-wracking, can bring on a case of the butterflies and can even cause the sweats in some severe cases, but please don’t panic about your consultation. All of our staff have experience dealing with all sorts of students coming from a huge variety of backgrounds – so you don’t need to worry about feeling out of place. “We actively seek out a candidate’s strengths and areas where they may need development, to reassure them that no barriers are insurmountable, and that they are confident in asking for help at this stage”, said Simon Cohl. Coming to College is a very big step, and if you’re coming straight from school the likelihood is that you may not have had any form of interview before. It may be worth asking your parents to do a mock-interview with you, and get them to ask you questions such as “why do you want to study this course?”, “what have you done to demonstrate your passion for this subject?”, “are you better at working in a team or in a group?”, and other similar questions that you are likely to discuss at your consultation.
3. Stand out from the crowd 🙋
All of our tutors interview hundreds of candidates each year – that’s a lot of names and faces to remember! Just like a job interview, it’s important to make yourself memorable. Simon Cohl said he looks for candidates who are confident, personable and can engage in a conversation with the interviewers, rather than someone who can just churn out stock interview phrases. “The main things we look for in a candidate is that they can demonstrate an interest and passion about the subject, and have a vision of where they think this programme could take them in the future”, said Kieran Grimes. Now we don’t expect you to have work experience under your belt already, but being able to show more of an interest in your chosen subject is definitely a bonus. It shows you’ve got passion and are forward-thinking. Even things as simple as following relevant accounts on social media, reading articles and being able to recount what you’ve learnt – that definitely counts! “Ultimately this is the candidate’s first meeting with the tutors, and whilst we appreciate that candidates are not the finished article, we do like candidates to be memorable (in more ways than one), and leave us with a really positive impression”, commented Simon Cohl. However, make sure you’re not memorable for the wrong reasons! Which brings us nicely on to our last point…
4. Make a fab first impression 👨🎓
First impressions are everything. Well, most of the time! It’s likely that you wouldn’t have met the tutor interviewing you before, you might have spoken to them at a previous open event, but not in an interview situation. “Punctuality, preparation and appropriate use of language is essential to making a good first impression at College”, said Kieran Grimes. Something as simple as not chewing gum, making sure your clothes are clean and making eye contact with your interviewer can make a huge impact on a first impression. “Arriving on time, dressing smartly and being able to demonstrate that you have read around the subject, and the units you’re likely to study makes a very good first impression”, suggested Simon Cohl. Make sure you ask sensible and pertinent questions to the interviewer, about both the course and the College. Show your passion and interest in the subject – interviewers like to think of it more as a two-way conversation.
We hope these tips are helpful to you, but we’ve got one more tip which is probably the most important. Be yourself!
What NOT to do… 🙅
- Arrive late
- Dress inappropriately (no hoodies, trainers or tracksuits!)
- Be silent/don’t ask any questions
- Have your earphones in
- Check your phone (put it on silent!)
- Forget the name of your interviewer!
- Be unprepared