How can I ensure I make the most of my personal qualities?

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How can I be positive without bragging?

Bragging is as much about a tone of voice as it is about making exaggerated claims. Tone is hard to monitor as we don’t often listen to ourselves; get some feedback from a colleague, but be prepared for what you’ll do if they suggest you tone it down a bit. If you embellish the truth, be prepared for the follow-up question and also be aware that higher education is a small world. Generally, people are over-modest and their achievements have to be dragged out of them, so have your evidence clearly planned beforehand. If you’ve made a difference, delivered impressive results and have received good feedback from previous work, say so, and be prepared to support your assertions.

I am a quiet person; how does one communicate job strengths when one is not particularly talkative? 

Communication is not about being talkative. A ‘quiet person’ might mean you are one of those people who actually answers the question in an interview precisely, concisely and to the point. And in terms of teaching, students value a lecturer who makes things clear and uses 50 words instead of 500. Like this paragraph.

I would just also like some tips on how I can calm myself before going into an interview

  • Don’t arrive too early – they won’t expect you and you’ll spend the time speculating on whether every person who comes through the door is an applicant.
  • Remember it’s in the panel’s interest to get the best out of you
  • Don’t get distracted by your surroundings or the people you meet; you can check all that out later.
  • Don’t think: do I want to do the job – do your best in the interview, then you can decide later once they make you an offer
  • Go through in your own mind all the good reasons why they’ve called you for interview: your skills, experience, personality – remember some key pieces of good feedback you’ve received.
  • And some deep breathing helps…and do get settled before you allow the interview to start.

I’ve got an interview after 3 years break due to maternity leave – how can I prepare?

Some people haven’t had interviews for far longer than 3 years and they prepare well. Don’t assume you can’t prepare as well as the next person. Being away from the workplace might mean you need to get up to speed a little more, but it all depends on what you are applying for. Assemble your evidence as to why they should employ you and don’t forget to point out how you have managed the challenges of bringing up a family. And don’t be defensive.

What advice do you have for middle-aged applicants switching career and competing with young applicants.

Be clear about which transferable skills you might bring to a new job and research your intended new role so that you can convince the interviewer of your motivation. Bringing previous experience to bear to a new career can make you stand out as offering a new perspective and approach. Don’t be defensive; why should younger applicants be competition? Identify those areas where you feel you may be at a disadvantage and ensure that you provide the best evidence possible to show how good you are. And don’t be defensive and apologise for being middle-aged!

How do I make sure I best get across all the attributes I have as a candidate even though the panel may only ask specific questions?

It’s not so much getting across all your attributes, but the most relevant and unusual ones which help you to come across as unique. It might be useful to even have a list of 5 on a card which you can check at the end. If you feel you’ve got to the end of the interview and haven’t done yourself justice, use the opportunity when they say: ‘do you have any questions for us?’ or: ’is there anything else you’d like to tell us?’ However, do keep it brief – no more than a minute is a good guide.

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