Lissie Cork is Schools & Colleges Liaison Officer for the Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education at Anglia Ruskin University. She often presents information on the application process, from entry requirements to personal statements and the interview itself, at the faculty’s events and so uses this blog to offer some advice on preparing for your interview.
It’s very rare to find someone who enjoys being interviewed in a formal setting, and when you do it is hard to fully believe them. Not only do you have to read through tons of information beforehand so that you are fully prepared for the day, but then you have the daunting walk to the interview room before being interrogated by one (or even worse, more than one!) official-looking person who dares not break a smile. OK, so I may be exaggerating slightly, but when you’re nervous it can sometimes feel like the most terrifying thing in the world. This blog will hopefully make you feel a lot better about the whole process.
As I touched on above, interview preparation does not just begin on the interview day. It sounds like a very obvious thing to say, but one thing you need to remember is to confirm your attendance. Some people forget to do this which causes a lot of delay in getting you sorted, and you may even be disappointed to find that the university cannot accommodate you on that day. Just imagine that you’ve spent weeks preparing for the interview to then show up and not be seen!
Another thing to review beforehand is your interview confirmation documentation (usually an email). This will list the documents that you may need to bring on the day, such as your passport or certificates. To avoid any hold-up in the process make sure that you bring the requested items along with you.
Finally, plan your route! We don’t offer any car parking at our campuses, so it is vital to organise your travel beforehand. Park and rides may be the way forward, or public transport might be easier for you in order to avoid peak-hour traffic. You don’t want to be any more stressed on the day, so preparation is key!
The aim of the interview day is to assess if you’re the right candidate for the course (and possibly the profession); that you are the person that your personal statement leads us to believe and that you can also communicate and cope well in different situations. In order to do this, you will be given a number of activities or tests. These can vary from presentations to skills-based assessment tests, so it’s important to understand what may be involved as much as you can beforehand. Our faculty tends to use literacy and numeracy tests, group discussions and finally individual interviews to evaluate candidates.
The literacy test is generally a question, such as ‘How do the media portray midwives?’ or ‘What is paramedic science?’, which you respond to with a short essay-style answer. The test is checking that you can demonstrate understanding of a written task, and use grammar, spelling, punctuation and clear sentences in order to respond in a given time. One of the most important things to do to plan for the interview day is to do your research. If you were to get a question that did touch on the media, like the example above, you may not be able to answer it accurately if you hadn’t done some reading. Useful websites to scan through before the day are the BBC and the Guardian topic pages.
The numeracy test consists of 20 questions – these vary from working out percentages, to converting decimals from fractions, to metric to imperial conversions. You won’t be allowed a calculator for these, so it’s crucial to do some homework beforehand so that you’re comfortable with the different sums. The numeracy test lasts for 30 minutes and is based at grade C GCSE level (so fairly painless); the pass rate is 40% so it’s pretty achievable. Saying that, please don’t let these factors make you too relaxed – the way to not be stressed on the day is to prepare for each assessment.
Group discussions are the next activity in a typical health and social care interview day. They help to assess your communication, decision-making and teamworking skills, as well as highlight your confidence and to see that you can respect other people’s opinions. Our admissions tutors want to see that you can debate hot topics in your chosen field of study in a non-judgemental way. The group discussions also highlight to tutors that you have (hopefully!) done your research. They’re your chance to come across well among other applicants; if you’re clued up on the latest journals or news articles relating to your chosen career then you’re bound to do just that. Reading up on the subject is not as laborious as you may think – it only takes a few minutes to read through an article, so the next time you are on a bus or waiting for your friend at the cinema, why not have a flick through one?
Your final assessment is the individual interview, which lasts for around ten minutes. The interview panel usually includes a lecturer, a professional from the subject, and potentially a service user if you’re applying for a course like Social Work. It is important to be prepared for this part of the interview day as it’s your final chance to shine and prove yourself. Typical questions that you may be asked are: ‘Why do you want to be a X?’, ‘What qualities do you think you need to be a X?’ and ‘What do you think makes a good X?’. Before the interview, try giving your responses out loud to rehearse how you will reply on the day. There are also many websites with example interview questions, so have a browse beforehand and make sure you have all angles covered – you don’t want to be sat there looking like a lemon with nothing to say!
So just remember, it is perfectly normal to be nervous about the interview day, but as long as you prepare well then there is nothing to be stressed about.
Interview day dos and don’ts
- as I’ve said time and time again, prepare!
- smile – the interviewers want to see that you are enthusiastic about the day as well as the course
- let our Admissions Team know if you have any specific requirements (eg, learning support needs)
- look smart – the jogging bottoms and trainers look doesn’t come across too well
- listen to other students – what are they saying about the university?
- look around the university; does it suit you, would you fit in there? Remember that this will be your new home for the next three years, so it has to feel right.
- wear uncomfortable clothing – you don’t want to be focused on what you’re wearing more than what you’re saying
- learn exact answers – it shows!
- make any judgements until you have been to the interview – it may be completely as you imagined, but also may not.