January 7, 2020, by NUBS Postgraduate Careers
Finding work in your home country whilst in the UK (Wendi Wu now working for BP(China) provides advice)
1 What is your new job title: MI Analyst at BP in Shanghai
2 What companies have you previously gained employment with: Pingan Insurance in Shanghai Headquarters and PayPal.
3 What recruitment stages did you go through for the role at BP?
It’s a very complicated recruitment process for BP
Application (3 open questions) – CV screening – video interview – online test – Assessment Centre – HR interview – One to one final business interview (presentation + open questions)
4 How did you prepare for this?
Research: Before applying, I did my research about the job description and made some adjustments to my CV to make sure I demonstrated how I was a good fit for this job.
Then, I searched the company’s profile on its websites and other resources such as MarketLine (this is available via the library). There is a tip I would like to share. If you want to know the company’s business well, read their annual reports. They show its financial statements, main business, big events and future development plans. Later, you can use this knowledge to show the interviewer that you have done your research carefully before coming to the interview and demonstrate that you are very interested in working there.
Assessment Centre: For the assessment Centre, be yourself and don’t be too nervous. For most assessment centres I attended, the HR team would collect the notes we made during the discussion. Therefore, make sure you show your logic and ideas on your notes clearly and take notes when necessary. It can be a crucial reference for HR and may be the deciding factor on whether you pass this stage or not. Then, it doesn’t matter too much about what role you are playing in the Assessment Centre (AC). It is more important to show your abilities to communicate and cooperate well with others and to push your team forward (Always best to check the organisations culture as this may determine what personality types they are likely to recruit). There might be disagreements during the discussion. Make sure you provide reasons to support your idea and try to convince other team members rather than ignore or deny them directly. Voting is never a good idea for making the final decision in AC if you can persuade others instead this is much better in terms of demonstrating your skills.
Interview: Before coming to the face to face HR interview, I reviewed my CV and my past internship/volunteer experiences. Meanwhile, I looked up the role description again and the company profile notes I made before.
To introduce my past experience and my achievements, I used the STAR method. I would write my experiences down and practice by saying these by myself and out loud, so that I had a clear and logical answer when speaking to the interviewers. Structuring my experiences in this way made it much easier for the audience to follow (here is some more info about using the STAR Method: https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/interview-types/456283-how-to-answer-typical-competency-based-interview-questions )
For every interview, you are likely to be asked some behavioural questions. Target Jobs has a really good section which can help you to prepare for all types of interview questions. https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/interview-types
Presentation: In the final presentation, I was given 8 minutes to answer 4 questions. To prepare for this, I kept doing my research about the company and the role to make it more personalised with my own experience. In this stage, the career team helped me build a very clear framework on each question. For example, one of the questions asked me why I am interested in this programme. The career team suggested me to answer it from two points. Firstly, why I am interested in this company. Secondly, why I am interested in this specific role. This strategy makes my answer very clear to the interviewer and shows my commitment.
After finishing making the PowerPoint presentation, practice, practice and practice. You can try to record yourself to see what improvements can be made and if it has good timing. It is also helpful if you could present it to your friends and seek suggestions from them.
I remember when I finished my presentation, the interviewer was very impressed and said, “this is great, you must have spent a lot of time on it.” So, your efforts can be reflected on your presentation, this is how you stand out from other candidates.
5 What was the biggest challenge when you started to look for work whilst studying in the UK
The biggest challenge was that I thought it was impossible to attend the onsite interview. Most students worry that they cannot fly back for the interview in another country when it is the recruitment season. But later I realized that this can be negotiated with the company. If I had applied earlier, I wouldn’t have missed so many opportunities. We know the campus recruitment process can be long. After CV screening, candidates are usually required to do an online test and video/phone interview, which will not need your onsite attendance. Thus, you can start to apply while in the UK to finish the first two or three rounds interview. Then, when you pass them, you can communicate with the company to see if you can do remote interview or wait until you go back to your country. They usually will not give up a candidate just because they are not here.
6 What kind of help and support did you gain from the Postgraduate Careers team?
It was very helpful for me to learn from the weekly teaching session held by career team, which gave me a clearer idea about how to prepare for the interview and what to expect in the recruitment process at the early stages. It motivated me to start early and apply. I also learnt where to find resources to practice for online tests including numerical, logical reasoning, and verbal tests, which was very helpful for me to get through the early candidates filtering. Besides, there are some guest speakers coming and telling their career stories. These will help you gain basic understanding about the nature of different roles and industries. If you are not very clear about your career development, you can surely get some inspirations from the speeches.
Then, I was lucky enough to participate in the assessment centre stimulation in July and it was my first time attending an AC. I was able to learn what an AC was like, what to expect and received feedbacks from both observers and career team at that time. Later, I participated in 5 Group interviews and AC and did not fail any.
For specific support, I booked the appointment with the career team to help me with my English CV. Thanks to Teresa, who highlighted my comparative advantages and helped me to make my CV professional with precise use of English. I then used it as my template and would make small adjustments according to the different job descriptions and person specifications.
The team also helped me with the final interview preparation. They provided me with professional and detailed instructions on each part of the question and presentation tips, which make me successful in winning the offer from BP.
7 Is there any advice you would give to our current MSc students?
Be confident and be well prepared. Companies are not looking for the best candidate in the world, they are looking for the best fit for the role. So, don’t worry if your competitors are from the very top universities. But keep it in mind, when you are applying for jobs, you are competing with thousands of powerful candidates for a few positions.
Next, be careful about your applications and CV. I have missed many opportunities because of my random applications and careless documents. Double check the grammar and spelling mistakes before you submit it.
Completing one application may take two hours long because all the forms, open questions, cover letters, etc. Therefore, treat every application carefully, otherwise you are wasting your time and will get nothing in response. Applying as much as possible is not a wise strategy because you will only work for one company eventually. It is better for focus on some companies or roles you are more interested in working at and do your research while applying. You will have more chance to get the offer from the company you would like to work at by understanding them in advance. Through taking this approach, you will not waste your time attending interviews blindly.
8 What advice would you give to a brand new international student arriving in the UK in September?
a) Apply early. When you arrive in the UK in September, it is usually the autumn recruitment season for the next years on-boarding.
b) Do not wait until the application deadline. I missed many opportunities when I first started to apply because I only gave myself a few days before the position was closing. I would suggest that the earlier you apply, the more likely you can get to the next recruitment stage.
c) Make sure you communicate with peer students. Finding a job can be frustrating sometimes, it is good to have your friends and classmates applying with you so that you can encourage each other. Meanwhile, you can share job hunting information and practice interviews with your friends, which will help you build confidence and improve your performance in real interviews.
9 Is there anything you wish you had known before you arrived in the UK?
The one-year programme can be very intensive. You may feel very tired from studies. But do remember to participate in different school activities as well, such as placements, volunteer work, internships and class ambassador roles. These will definitely help you improve your interpersonal skills and bring you valuable life experiences. Sometimes I wish I could have done more during my study in the UK, then I would have more to talk about in the interview. Many companies are very interested in candidates who have overseas internship experiences and even volunteering experiences.
Networking: Networking is important. Nottingham University Business School holds a regular events for students to build connections with alumni from a range of different organisations. Take a look at the Financial Minds series and other alumni events. Different companies such as JP Morgan, KPMG, PwC, EY, Deloitte and many other organisations also come on to campus to talk about their roles and how to apply. They are willing to help you with your application and can sometimes be your referral, which can increase your chance of getting directly to the interview stage and make the whole process quicker. So do attend these opportunities with employers on campus…you never know where the connections may lead!
Use LinkedIn wisely. If you are not sure about the job position, go to LinkedIn and find the same or similar position in this company. You may get the answer from there. Then, you can also learn about the future career development from the previous employees’ LinkedIn profiles and see if this is a match with your expectations. Using the University’s Alumni Tool can be a useful way to make new connections: https://www.linkedin.com/school/university-of-nottingham/people/