Preparing for your University Interview
How should I prepare?
The start point is your research. What type of interview are you facing?
- One-to-one - Face-to-face encounter with one interviewer, after the University decides that you've got what it's looking for. They're usually declared as formal, with a hint of informality, (but, don’t drop your guard).
- Panel - Similar to one-to-one interviews, except two or more people - often from different parts of the organisation (and maybe the practice provider) - will be assessing you at the same time.
- Group - Multiple candidates are interviewed together. They are asked questions in turn, or, discuss certain topics. Usually with more than one assessor.
- Assessment centres - These involve tasks including presentations, written tests, and group, role-play and in-tray exercises. They're used to assess a candidate's performance in a range of situations, and, last a full day. You'll appear alongside several other candidates.
Before the interview
Interviews require research and planning. Generally, you should do the following when preparing for interview:
- Anticipate potential questions and prepare answers accordingly;
- Contact your references, alerting them that you'll be interviewing and that they may receive a call;
- Fully understand the role that you're applying for by revisiting the role of a paramedic, identifying what skills, interests and experiences the higher education provider and partner organisation are looking for;
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer/s;
- Read the University and partner ambulance service organisation website, social media profiles and key literature (e.g. business plan, student feedback responses, financial reports and corporate social responsibility strategy), ensuring that you're prepared to share your views and ideas;
- Research the news, trends, competitors, history and opportunities of the paramedic, NHS, healthcare and NHS ambulance services environment. What is common, what is trending;
- Review your UCAS application form and be familiar with what you wrote when you applied.
Choose your outfit the night before, get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Plan your journey, aiming to arrive at least ten minutes early. Completing a 'dry run', if possible, also combats nerves. On the day, eat a good, healthy breakfast and avoid too much caffeine.
What to take
Your interview invitation should detail everything that you need, but generally you should take:
- a bottle of water;
- access to the correct time, on your wrist or on your mobile phone;
- pre-sent instructions from the University, ie where you can park, where to meet;
- an A-Z street map, or at least the postcode of the University so that you can search Google Maps on your mobile phone;
- details of the person that you must ask for upon arrival;
- exam certificates, examples of your work, and any further evidence of your past successes. They might not ask for them but it's good to show you thoroughly prepare for this opportunity;
- pen and notepad;
- photo ID (e.g. passport or driving licence);
- your UCAS statement (copy).
Literacy and Numeracy Assessment
A defined assessment may be used to test your literacy and numeracy skills. The aim of the numeracy test is to look at your ability to manipulate numbers as applied to volume, weight, and length. Calculations relating to addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, rounding, interpreting graphs and charts and using formula will be tested. The function of the literacy test is primarily to assess comprehension and written communication.
How to make a good impression
Generally, you should:
- answer questions clearly and concisely; It’s a fine balance of not waffling and leaving the interview panel wanting more. If they start to ask follow up questions, it may be that your first answer was not full enough;
- ask relevant, thought-provoking questions at appropriate moments, as this can show that you're genuinely interested in the role and really listening to the interviewer;
- avoid talking about any personal problems;
- be as enthusiastic as possible;
- be well-mannered with any staff that you meet before the interview;
- display positive body language, speaking clearly, smiling frequently and retaining eye contact; Do not be flirtatious, either in speech or in body language;
- don't bad mouth any previous university interview processes;
- highlight your best attributes, experiences and achievements, based around the skills that you've identified as important to the paramedic role, and evidence them with practical examples;
- let your personality shine;
- relax and sit naturally, but without slouching in your chair or leaning on the desk;
- wear smart business attire with comfortable, polished shoes;
Tips for controlling your nerves
Nerves can make you forget to do things as simple as listening. This can result in you being thought of as unfriendly or inattentive. Some ideas for combating nerves include:
- being aware of the interview's structure, and the fact that they often begin with easier questions such as “Tell us why you want to be a Paramedic?”;
- arrive early for the interview and perhaps have a walk around the campus to settle yourself;
- pausing before answering a difficult question to give yourself thinking time, or asking for clarification if, at first, you're unsure what the question means;
- taking deep breaths and not speaking too quickly.