Interviews and imposter syndrome: tips for summer 2022
10 June 2022
As the term draws to a close you may be thinking about careers and jobs. Read on for UCL Careers Adviser Victoria’s tips.
As university examinations wind down and the warmer weather approaches, we hope you find plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation. However, we recognise that this time is also a great opportunity for many of you to obtain some work experience or take up internships, so if you are expecting to participate in interviews this summer, the most important advice we can offer is to prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more!
Preparing for interviews
Articulate your motivations for the specific role and organisation, and for the sector more generally. Employers want to understand what motivates you and see how much you know about the role and company. Questions about competitors and clients may arise, so make sure you do your research prior to the interview.
Employers tend to ask about your skills, as if you’ve successfully used a skill in the past, it is likely you’ll do so again in the future. The job description and person specification will highlight exactly what the employer is looking for, so use this to prepare examples for the skills and competencies listed. If there’s no job description, then think about what skills are likely to be required and apply the same principle.
STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a handy acronym to use to structure your examples of how you have demonstrated a particular skill, and you can prepare these in advance of the big day.
You can also think about these practical considerations prior to and on the day itself:
Fix up, look smart
Make sure you look smart and professional. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s safer to look a bit too formal.
First impressions are vital, so be polite and professional from the start to everyone you meet.
Pay attention to the questions! Respond to what is asked, not what you wish they had asked.
Take a moment
Speak slowly and clearly, and don’t rush your answer. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question, or to ask for a moment if you need time to think.
If you must present negative information, be truthful, but also positive. Say how you learned from it or would do something differently in the future.
Preparation is key
For telephone or video interviews, make sure you find a quiet space and take steps to ensure you’re not interrupted. You should also check the technology in advance. This could consist of checking you can log into the platform, considering your Wi-Fi speed and connection, and even the lighting, background, and camera angle available. If you do experience problems during the interview, be honest and let the employer know, so you can sort it.
If you’ve struggled with interviews in the past, are feeling nervous as your first interview approaches, or you’ve tried the techniques above without success - then do not fear! It may be time to consider tackling some other familiar issues that commonly arise during the interview process - namely around imposter syndrome, lack of confidence and self-worth.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
People who identify with imposter syndrome often feel they've somehow 'fooled' others into thinking they're smarter and more capable than they believe themselves to be. If this resonates with you, and you struggle to articulate yourself well during interviews, it can be useful to work on increasing your resilience and developing your long-term confidence.
Here are some top tips to help your beat imposter syndrome and build up your self-confidence this summer:
Take on new some challenges
A series of small breakthroughs can make a huge difference to how you feel about yourself. Don’t forget to take the time to reflect after each challenge and list the new skills you have developed.
Don’t worry about meeting all the requirements
Don’t get too bogged down in not meeting all the job requirements when searching for future opportunities. If you are excited about the role and you can meet approximately 75% of the requirements, then apply.
Remember that self-confidence isn’t about shouting the loudest. Informal networking opportunities that allow you to contribute meaningfully, ask questions and listen closely are a great career boost, and will inspire others to have confidence in you.
It’s not personal
Remind yourself that job rejections are rarely personal. Unsuccessful interviews really are a great opportunity to practice your technique and you should always consider asking for feedback – ready for the next one!
Look after yourself
Don’t feel bad for needing a break. After a challenging and busy academic year, remember to take some time out for you.
Most importantly, remember that your self-worth isn’t defined by your work (or lack thereof). You do not always need an ‘official’ internship to boost your skills and gain valuable experience. Your skills, competencies and behaviours can still be developed through extra-curricular activities, volunteering, and hobbies, so make the most of every opportunity that comes your way this summer.
Get in touch
If you are struggling, please do reach out and talk to someone else: friends, family, colleagues, fellow students or your friendly UCL teams. Both the UCL Careers and the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing teams remain open throughout the summer period.
How UCL Careers can help
If you have been invited to attend an interview, remember you can book a practice interview appointment with UCL Careers to help you prepare for the real thing. This is a great way to gain practical experience with interviews, including in the sector that you have applied to.
You can also book a one-to-one appointment with a careers advisor to discuss your interview or to gain tips and advice more generally on approaching interviews.
How UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can help
If you need support or just advice, UCL remains open for current students. Make an appointment with one of our caring advisers.
Victoria Abbott, Recruitment and Selection Advisor, UCL Careers