It is the season of the dreaded university interview. I have been inundated over the past few weeks with requests for mock interviews and help with general interview etiquette: ‘what if they ask me something I don’t know about?’ ….. ‘what if I don’t understand the question?’ ….. ‘do I have to shake their hand?’ ….. ‘what do I wear?’ And that’s not to mention the feedback from those students who have endured the misery of their first formal interview: ‘it was a group interview and I couldn’t get a word in edgeways’ ….. ‘it was a group interview and I think I may have hogged it’ ….. ‘they asked me about something in my subject and I didn’t know the answer, so I just babbled’ ….. ‘I don’t think they liked me.’
And so it goes on.
The university interview is for many students, the first formal stage of their professional career. It’s the first time they’ve had the pressure of being face to face with real life grown-ups who holds the key to the next stage of their future. With this in mind, I have used Kloodle to help prepare my students for how to talk under pressure. So, here are my instructions to them:
First things, first. You need to make sure that your Kloodle profile is up to date. There is no use in relying on out-of-date experiences when you have newer, more prevalent achievements that you just haven’t got around to writing about or evidencing. No excuses lazy-bones.
Second, make sure that the tone of your writing is appropriate for a second viewer. If you are preparing for an interview – get into the right mind-set. Use Kloodle to help phrase expressions and clarify ideas. It’s no different to a written exam. You revise from notes that are detailed and contain the correct information. You don’t waste time, revising from half finished exercises or scraps of paper that you’ve doodled on in lesson. At least, you shouldn’t!
Third, get into pairs and log into Kloodle. Make a connection on Kloodle with your partner – accept the connection request, so that you have access to your partner’s profile. You have 4 minutes to read the bio, blog posts, view photos and videos and make a note of any skills that the person has tagged. Your interviewer, won’t spend much longer than 4 minutes browsing through your Personal Statement before an interview. Let’s see what impression a second viewer can gather from your profile.
Fourth, prepare students with a list of question prompts relating to the profile and let the interview begin:
I can see from your bio, you are interested in __________, can you tell me more about that?
Can you give me an example of when you have had to work well as part of a team?
Describe a time you have had to show initiative.
How have your experiences to date, prepared you for a course in _________?
Who is your favourite [insert course related role e.g. designer / writer / director] and why?
Using students’ Kloodle profiles helps to scaffold the interview and prompt a more authentic interview scenario than the typical, ‘get into pairs and ask each other these questions’. The Kloodle profile replaces the Personal Statement that the interviewer may refer to and gives each student the opportunity to engage in purposeful and authentic interview discussion.
Fifth. Never give the interviewer the opportunity to ask “why?” If your answers are monosyllabic and limited in detail, you are giving the person asking the question, the opportunity to steer the interview and ‘drill’ you on detail. I asked a student who their favourite architect was, they answered with ‘Ermmmm, Oh, you’ve put me on the spot. I suppose, Norman Foster.’ That was it. No explanation. No extension. Detailed, passionate and articulate responses allow the interviewee to dictate their own interview, consider this as an alternative answer to the question above ….. ‘Norman Foster because of the way that he uses glass in his architecture to complement the building alongside the landscape it sits in. A perfect example is the Spaceport America, which sits perfectly in its surroundings. I also like the way that ….. I tried to use a similar approach in my A level Art coursework focused on an architectural model …..’ If this is detailed in a blog post on Kloodle or you have pictures of your coursework uploaded as a working portfolio – then you have already prepared for the questions you are likely to be asked.
Finally, get parents or carers to do the same thing. Give them access to your profile and get them to ask you questions. They will have most probably been in an interview scenario and will be able to give you more handy tips.
Above all, try to learn from the experience. If your Kloodle profile is current and relevant then you have done most of the prep. Make sure that you have evidence points for the most obvious skills that are needed for your course.
And above all else, smile.
Good grades are important but employers and admission staff select students with a good attitude and positive outlook. So, take a deep breath, make confident eye contact and smile.