Archive | employability

Got an assessment centre? Here’s some advice

We work with lots of students who have assessment centres at this time of year. Preparing for these sometimes nerve-wrecking days is important, and at Southampton Business School, we run mock assessment centres to help prepare you for success.

Aside from attending one of these useful sessions, what else can do to boost your assessment centre performance? In this video, taken from our online placement preparation course, we give some advice on how your mindset can affect your performance:

It’s easy to fall in to the trap of seeing other applicants as ‘the competition’ during an assessment day, which can negatively affect your performance. If you see yourself as being in direct competition with the other applicants, for some, this can lead to unnatural behaviours, such as being forceful or dominating. Assessors won’t view such attitudes positively: they’re looking for people who can contribute in team-working scenarios, get the best out of others, and put across their own ideas whilst listening to those of their colleagues.

Besides, at lots of assessment days, organisations are looking to recruit more than one candidate. Other applicants might be applying for different roles, or there might be several of the same role available. Treating your fellow candidates as colleagues, not competition, will put you on the path to success!


How to stand out from the crowd: Placement Applications

 How much do you know about the career path you wish to follow post studies?

dream job

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

strength and weeknesses


Third Year, BSc Accounting and Finance student, Joe Knowles, recently wrote an excellent blog considering the value of year-long internships to summer internships. However, in order to stand out in your year-long placement applications, amongst fierce competition from other undergraduates, you might wish to consider a summer internship.

Placement Application Challenges

Applying for a placement year can be challenging in many ways. How much do you know about the industry you will be applying to? Have you applied for jobs before, experienced assessment centres and interviews? One way to prepare yourself for your placement year job search is to undertake a trial run by applying for a summer internship.

Summer Internship Benefits

By taking part in an internship you will develop employability skills, explore a career path and gain insight into a business and its culture: as well as gaining confidence. In addition, your employment experience will enable you to accumulate evidence of your abilities to demonstrate various competencies in your placement applications, talk about at interview and best of all you can stand out from the crowd by fulfilling the criteria ‘previous experience desirable’.

Where to look for a internships……

Many companies offer students summer internships which they advertise on their websites. The length of an internship is usually between 10 and 13 weeks, starting June/July time. Application timescales vary from company to company as do their application procedures. Whilst many companies only recruit penultimate year students for summer internships – which is a way for companies to test drive talent and find future employees, there are some who will accept applications from first year undergraduate students.

Alternatively, send out speculative applications to companies or search Southampton University’s Excel Internship programme by visiting:


5 top resources for interview success

We know that being prepared is critical for interview success, but with so much advice out there, knowing where to look can be troublesome.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 5 top resources for interview success. If you’ve got an interview or assessment centre coming up, these sites offer an invaluable resource:

#1 – Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a broad ’employment’ website offering all manner of company reviews, salary data, and more. It’s an invaluable resource when preparing for an interview or assessment centre. Users submit their own experiences of interviews with an organisation, from placements or internships through to graduate roles and experienced hires. If you want to get an idea of the sort of questions you might be asked in an interview for a particular company, this is a good start.

#2 – PwC’s e-learn

So you’ve got a good idea of what sort of questions you might be asked: how do you go about answering them? PwC have provided this excellent resource which gives strong examples of how (and how not) to answer competency based questions. It does have a strong focus on these sort of questions, so isn’t the best for advice on answering motivational or other style questions, but working through this resource is a great way of practicing the STAR method and preparing for interview success.

#3 – TargetJobs

You’ve probably visited TargetJobs to conduct sector research before applying for placements, but did you know they have a wealth of tips and guidance on how to succeed throughout the application process, too? From how to dress, to how to deal with nerves, this is a comprehensive resource for interview preparation.

#4 – Employer’s websites

OK, this isn’t a single resource, but it is one of the best ways you can prepare for an interview. Almost all companies will have a ‘careers’ section of their website, and you should visit and examine this carefully before arriving at an assessment centre and interview. What sort of skills are they looking for? What’s the company culture like? Has the organisation been involved in any big deals lately, or had any major developments? Researching the company before an interview is absolutely critical to success, and can help you think of some all-important questions of your own, too.

#5 – 20 Essential Job Interview Tips

Warning: please do not actually follow these tips! For a bit of light relief, though, this list from The Poke always gives us a chuckle in the office.

Browsing the (first four!) resources should help you prepare for your next interview. Have you got any of your own tips for success?


Telephone interview success

It’s encouraging to see lots of students from Southampton Business School being invited to telephone interviews, video interviews, and assessment centres at this time of year. In her last post, Riikka explained how not to answer some common telephone interview questions. What, then, can you do to ensure you are equipped for telephone interview success?

In this video extract from our online placement preparation course, Paul Hanrahan from Enterprise Rent-a-car gives his advice; including how to prepare, where to hold a telephone interview, and some sound advice on outgoing voicemail messages…

Keep an eye on the blog this month for more tips on how to succeed in video and telephone interviews.


Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the scariest of them all?

If there was one stage of the application process that students feel the least confident about, it’s the telephone and video interviews. Relying on verbal communication only can be daunting, especially if you’ve never experienced telephone interviews before.  However, there is nothing to be worried about; as with the whole job application process and all its stages, if you prepare thoroughly and practice in advance, you will do great.

This month, we will give you insight into the world if interviews done either on the phone or online as video interviews. To kick things off, let’s see how you should NOT answer some common telephone and video interview questions…

boy interview

girl interview



Would you like to read more about telephone interviews? Check out these links!

National Careers Service: How to impress in telephone interviews Telephone interview questions and answers explained

BigInterview: Awesomely comprehensive guide to video interviews, well worth a read!

Business Insider: 10 Tips for video interviews, if you want to get the main information quickly

In addition, websites such as TargetJobs have a lot of great advice on the topic, so do use the good ol’ Google to find out more, and do come back here to read what our students and employers have to say about the topic!