Personal Statement Guide Questions In Interviewing

Got a question about writing your personal statement? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re often asked about this section of the application, and chances are your question will be one we’ve heard from other students. Check out the answers to five of the most frequently asked questions below – they're all from admissions staff at universities and colleges (the people who spend their time reading personal statements!)

1.When should I start?
  • "As soon as you can! Give yourself time to write it properly. Your first draft alone could take you a whole day to write." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University. 
  • "Set yourself a schedule. It will take longer than you think to write your personal statement and it is important that you allow time to review your work several times."  Louise Carr, the University of Liverpool.

2.What are unis looking for?
  • "Don’t forget about the obvious! Why do you want to study your chosen course?  Hopefully it’s something you know the answer to and have taken a lot of time to think about so make sure you include it." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.
  • "Enthusiasm, motivation and focus about the subject you’re applying to. Mention extra- curricular activities, transferable skills and include what your future career plans are after your degree." Maxine Charlton, the University of York.
  • "Unis aren’t looking for a dictionary definition of a subject. They know what their degrees are about; they want to know what you understand and enjoy about the subject." Louise Carr, University of Liverpool.
  • "The best personal statements effectively link examples of the student's extra-curricular activities with the university's entry requirements." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
3.How should I structure my personal statement?
  • "Put your notes in order according to what the course you're interested in is looking for. If you have any skills and experience relevant to the entry requirements, make sure you say so at the start of your personal statement." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "First impressions aren’t everything – yes, a lot of personal statements start in the same way. However, don’t put so much prominence on writing a witty first line – having a good overall personal statement will make a much better impression." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

4.What should I do when I've written it?
  • "Check it carefully! Get your teachers, friends, partner, work colleagues or someone else you trust to read it - out loud - to you. It's a great way to spot errors and make sure it makes sense." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "Don’t forget to save an up-to-date copy somewhere.  If you are invited for an interview your personal statement is likely to be read by the person interviewing you and may be used as a starting point for questions.  Make sure you can remember what you wrote and back it all up if you are asked." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

5.What other advice do you have?
  • "Do not mention a specific university. Unless you reveal otherwise, we will think that you really only want to come to us!" Louise Carr, the University of Liverpool. 
  • "Remember you have a lot to offer – you just have to write about yourself in a positive way and sell all the skills and experience that you have." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

Need more personal statement help? Visit www.ucas.com/personal-statements and if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out these 10 places to get personal statements pointers.

 

Got a question about writing your personal statement? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re often asked about this section of the application, and chances are your question will be one we’ve heard from other students. Check out the answers to five of the most frequently asked questions below – they're all from admissions staff at universities and colleges (the people who spend their time reading personal statements!)

1.When should I start?
  • "As soon as you can! Give yourself time to write it properly. Your first draft alone could take you a whole day to write." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University. 
  • "Set yourself a schedule. It will take longer than you think to write your personal statement and it is important that you allow time to review your work several times."  Louise Carr, the University of Liverpool.

2.What are unis looking for?
  • "Don’t forget about the obvious! Why do you want to study your chosen course?  Hopefully it’s something you know the answer to and have taken a lot of time to think about so make sure you include it." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.
  • "Enthusiasm, motivation and focus about the subject you’re applying to. Mention extra- curricular activities, transferable skills and include what your future career plans are after your degree." Maxine Charlton, the University of York.
  • "Unis aren’t looking for a dictionary definition of a subject. They know what their degrees are about; they want to know what you understand and enjoy about the subject." Louise Carr, University of Liverpool.
  • "The best personal statements effectively link examples of the student's extra-curricular activities with the university's entry requirements." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
3.How should I structure my personal statement?
  • "Put your notes in order according to what the course you're interested in is looking for. If you have any skills and experience relevant to the entry requirements, make sure you say so at the start of your personal statement." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "First impressions aren’t everything – yes, a lot of personal statements start in the same way. However, don’t put so much prominence on writing a witty first line – having a good overall personal statement will make a much better impression." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

4.What should I do when I've written it?
  • "Check it carefully! Get your teachers, friends, partner, work colleagues or someone else you trust to read it - out loud - to you. It's a great way to spot errors and make sure it makes sense." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "Don’t forget to save an up-to-date copy somewhere.  If you are invited for an interview your personal statement is likely to be read by the person interviewing you and may be used as a starting point for questions.  Make sure you can remember what you wrote and back it all up if you are asked." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

5.What other advice do you have?
  • "Do not mention a specific university. Unless you reveal otherwise, we will think that you really only want to come to us!" Louise Carr, the University of Liverpool. 
  • "Remember you have a lot to offer – you just have to write about yourself in a positive way and sell all the skills and experience that you have." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

Need more personal statement help? Visit www.ucas.com/personal-statements and if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out these 10 places to get personal statements pointers.

 

Interview cheat sheet and prep tips

This handy checklist will help you organize your thoughts and stay focused before, during and after the interview.

Interview prep is an essential part of the job-search process.

Relax—a cheat sheet is not really cheating. It's a checklist to make sure you stay focused before, during and after the interview. Creating a cheat sheet will help you feel more prepared and confident. You shouldn't memorize what's on the sheet or check it off during the interview. You should use your cheat sheet to remind you of key facts. Here are some suggestions for what you should include on it.

In the days before the interview

  • Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, make a bulleted list of what the employer is looking for based on the job posting. On the right side, make a bulleted list of the qualities you possess that fit those requirements.
  • Research the company, industry and the competition.
  • Prepare your 60-second personal statement.
  • Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions ("Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of a time...").
  • List five questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry.
  • Research salaries to determine your worth.
  • Determine your salary needs based on your living expenses.
  • Get permission from your references to use their names.

Prepare your interview answers

Be ready to answer common interview questions such as these:

Before you go to the interview

Do you look professional? Check yourself in the mirror; part of your confidence will come from looking good.

Carry these items to the interview:

  • Several copies of your resume on quality paper.
  • A copy of your references.
  • A pad of paper on which to take notes, though notes are optional.
  • Directions to the interview site.

Upon arrival

  • Arrive early—enter the building 10 minutes before your appointment.
  • Review your prepared stories and answers.
  • Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time.
  • Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner.
  • Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty—not bone-crushing—handshake.
  • Smile and maintain eye contact.

During the interview

  • Try to focus on the points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff.
  • Relax and enjoy the conversation.
  • Learn what you can about the company.
  • Ask questions and listen; read between the lines.
  • At the conclusion, thank the interviewer, and determine the next steps.
  • Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can send a follow-up letter.

After the interview

  • As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling.
  • Later in the day, review what you wrote and assess how you did.
  • Write an interview thank-you letter, reminding the interviewer of your qualities.

 

The interview can be the most stressful part of a job search. Stay calm and collected with expert advice on how to update your resume, ace the interview, and land the job of your dreams by becoming a Monster member. Career advice, job alerts, and the Monster 100 will be emailed to you so you can stay focused and organized on what's important to you. 


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