Reading week and placement application tips


As we are approaching the end of November, signalling that we are more than halfway through the first semester, I have to say that I am really looking forward to the Christmas break. Even the reading week we had on the first week of November felt like it was ages ago. Which is why I am going to touch lightly on time management skills while at university as well as placement application tips in this blog entry.

Almost all the interviews that I’ve been through have asked a question relating to time management. A good approach to use when answering interview questions like this is to use the STAR method, that is situation, task, action, and result. In this example scenario the question could be “How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?”

Question: “How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?”
Answer structure using the STAR method:
Situation – set the context of your story
Task – what was required of you
Action – what you actually did
Result – how well did the situation play out

Moving on to placement application tips, we’ll start off with a brief understanding of what a placement entails. It is essentially a year out in industry, working in an industry that you are interested in or possibly even a specific job role if you’ve already figured that part out. Not all university courses allow you to do this, so be sure to double check with the course description, it should contain words like “sandwich 4 year course”, “optional year in industry”, or anything similar.

The steps you go through during a placement application vary slightly from company to company. But they mostly contain an online application form, online psychometric tests, assessment centres, and a final interview before landing an offer.

Psychometric tests are usually made up of three types: verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and logical reasoning. Alongside this, companies tend to add in another test called the situational judgement test, which tests how candidates approach certain work-related situations. This way, not only are they testing if you’ll be a good fit for their company, but also if their company will be a good fit for you! Who wouldn’t want to be happy with their job?

Assessment centres tend to consist of a group exercise, psychometric tests and an interview. It may be a daunting experience especially if you have never been to one. I still remember how nervous I was at my first assessment centre with IBM, which is why I have outlined a few important tips to remember:

  1. Relax and be yourself
  2. Find an opportunity to practise
  3. Know your assessment criteria
  4. Prioritise your time
  5. Speak clearly and confidently

I cannot stress how important the tips above are. I have been and will continue using them, not just for assessment centres but for interviews as well.

Most placement applications have deadlines around November, sometimes even earlier, so be sure to get your application in as early as possible!

Good luck!


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