I can’t believe it’s been two years since I started looking for placement roles. Time has flown so fast! It’s the start of 2019, which is the optimal time when companies are advertising their placement schemes and when people (in general, not just uni students) plan their career goals for the year and possibly search for a new job.
I only actually went to three placement interviews when searching for a role. The first one I realised it wasn’t what I was looking for, the second one I got down to the final two and the third one I got hired. Despite being rejected at the final two, I felt so proud of myself to get that far and was over the moon to be hired on my next interview with another company. It goes without saying that these tips aren’t guaranteed to work every single time to get your dream placement role (I wish it did!), especially as we live in a very competitive world. However, they seemed to help me out quite a bit and I definitely felt more confident walking into interviews after doing all of the below. If you’re writing your CV or prepping for an interview, let me know if you find these tips useful!
Research common interview questions
Doing this before any job interview was so helpful. Go into it with a good idea of what they could ask you and have the answers ready. Look at common interview questions for about a week before the interview (you can never be too prepared!), and try to think of real-life scenarios that you could use to answer the questions. When thinking of scenarios, think back to your part-time employment and your university projects too. These can all be linked to skills such as problem-solving, communicating effectively and leadership.
For example, a common question is “tell me about a time when you’ve worked with someone that didn’t pull their weight and how you dealt with it”. You could link this to a problem that you might have come across with someone in a group project at university, and how you dealt with it to solve the problem. And remember, even if the problem may sound bad, the employer is looking at how you identified and solved the problem in order to make the situation more positive, as that’s what they’ll be looking for in the workplace.
Get to know the company
…And that doesn’t mean skimming through their ‘about us’ page and memorising the year they started up. See if the company has introduced anything new recently. Have they started working with a new client? Have they released a new product? Are they expanding? Trying to find out something unique that the company are currently are working on will show your genuine interest in them and your passion for the role. See if they appear in any recent articles online, get to know their company morale (are they a more serious/more fun company?) and have a look at what they’re talking about on their social media.
Create a portfolio
Creating a portfolio is a great way to show off some of your best work to employers and make them seriously impressed. A placement role is going to be very relevant to your uni course, so print off some of your best work and show the employer. Try to show them work that showcases your best skills instead of just showing them academic essays – they’re not interested. For example, I showed employers a presentation I did where I had to critique a marketing campaign and show how it could be improved, an infographic I created, as well as examples of blog posts I created for another module.
Also, if you’re a blogger, show off some of your blog posts! I printed some of my blog posts and best blog photos out for employers to have a flick through and they loved it. It brings something unique to the table and it shows them your passions outside of work, and how these skills could potentially be transferred to a job, e.g. copywriting, social media and photography skills.
Find your niche
This links to my point about showing off your blog above. But if you’re not a blogger, try to find something unique that you can bring to the table. What makes you different from other candidates out there? What are your passions outside of uni? As well as your academic/professional skills, employers really want to know what YOU love and get to know YOU as a person.
Don’t forget I’ve also written about placement roles before: If You’re Debating Doing A Placement Year, Read This
I really hope this blog post was helpful for any students looking to find a placement job, or even any graduates looking for a job too! If you’d like any further advice about anything placement/uni related, then please do feel free to DM me on Instagram, I’ll be happy to chat! GOOD LUCK! You got this!