This article discusses how international students studying at UK Universities can refine and improve their skills to become more employable at the time of job searching. In this regard, it is possibly important to have an idea of what the UK recruitment process would involve, and in what ways you can deal with each stage of the interview to get the best outcome. Certainly, the process of recruitment somewhat differs from one industry to another, however, the current post illustrates the general and standard course that you can expect during the recruitment process.
Careers consultancy services in the UK
You will have a placement department or career consultancy department at your university to help in UK recruitment process. They will help you to approach the main companies in your targeted industry and field of interest. Apart from this, many career services conduct sessions to develop employability skills (they can help you develop your communication skills, interpersonal skills, and others). During your course, your placement cell at your uni will also organize different company events concentrating on specific industry segments. You must attend to get acquainted with the industry players, business establishments operating in the sector, and potential employers, and interact with their existing employees to understand the requirements and the kind of profile companies are hunting for.
You might also get in touch with a career counselor (or tutor) at educational/career consultancy firms who might help you in proofreading your job application, give tips for cracking the interviews, conduct mock sessions, and send you for interviews. Therefore, you can fully use the available resources while searching for jobs in the UK.
The process of recruitment starts after you have selected and decided on a few companies. Every time, the first step of the recruitment process in the UK will be filling up the application form on the website of the companies. In this stage, you might be asked to upload your CV and sometimes write a letter within a text box, all within the scope of the online application process.
Research suggests that hiring managers spend between 6-8 seconds looking at a CV as they need to skim through hundreds of applications submitted for the vacant position. A ‘low-skilled’ job position in the UK received an average of nearly 506 applications in the year 2021. Also, nowadays, 98% of large organizations use automated systems to scan CVs in the UK. Therefore, you need to have a strong CV that stands out to qualify in this round and make your way to the next step (that is, get a call for an interview).
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Submitting a well-drafted CV can help you to showcase your skills and abilities to your prospective employers and show why you are an ideal candidate for the position you are applying for.
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Online Aptitude tests
You can proceed to the next stage of the UK recruitment process if the application that you submitted passes the screening stage and is considered strong enough to qualify. After qualifying for the next stage, you will receive an e-mail from the business establishment within a few days (most likely within two to three days after submitting the job application form) inviting you to appear for an online aptitude test. This aptitude test will be time-bound and will focus mainly on mathematical skills, logical reasoning, and English language skills. The mathematics parts are based on fundamental arithmetic, focused on testing analytical comprehension skills, and are time-bound, therefore, do not expect it to be a clear-cut and smooth sailing process. This assessment will involve a multiple-choice test to assess various levels of learning outcomes, from basic recall to application, analysis, and evaluation.
First round of interview
If you manage to qualify for the aptitude test, you surely have achieved something in UK recruitment process. Thereafter, you will be contacted again through email within three to four days of completion of the online aptitude test. The recruiter will inform you regarding the date, time, and place of your first round of interview.
You need to practice the common interview questions, brush up on the technical concepts related to your field and participate in mock interview sessions to prepare yourself for this stage.
Normally, your hiring manager will make you feel comfortable. Be respectful, well-mannered but confident, a lot will be assessed based on your body language, posture, and non-verbal cues.
The interviewer will be a team manager in the department or division you’ve applied to. The interview will mainly be divided into two parts. The first part will include the qualitative questions based on the application form. This qualitative part will involve generalized questions (determination, resilience, ability to work in a team and individually, and others). However, you will have to avoid giving superficial answers and will have to provide relevant examples through your academic qualification or instances or case-in-point from work experience (if any) or any other volunteering or extra-curricular activities to validate your answers or statements/claims you make.
For example, you can use the STAR interview method (sometimes also called SAR) for your interview. Let us imagine that they ask you “How do you intend to deal with the disagreement or conflict with the technical team?” First, you will have to describe a situation (a specific instance where your objectives and those of the technical team were misaligned and skewed). Secondly, you will describe the actions that you undertook to solve the disagreement or conflict. Finally, you will illustrate the results associated with your intervention. However, try to select the situations carefully as the basic principle is to avoid presenting over-complicated things. Plus, the situation should sound less like bragging and more like a real-world situation that can reveal your process of thinking and help you position yourself as a professional with a positive mindset.
The second part will be based on an assessment of the set of skills and competencies that the business is looking for in its employees.
You will almost certainly be asked about your intentions behind applying for that particular role and the reasons behind selecting the company. Even if, the driving reasons might be good compensations and the high brand equity of the establishment, you will have to be a little bit manipulative and present more substantial reasons than just the salary package and brand value of the company.
It is recommended that you prepare thoroughly about the company, the mission, vision, and values of the company, its operations/projects from the website of the company and other industry reports, and be aware of big news associated with its upcoming projects. Also, try to get a general idea of the industry in which the company operates and the functions of the particular division in which you are applying, Try to go through the job description multiple times and tailor your answers to meet the skills and requirements that are explicitly stated in the JD, and follow the keywords that are used in the JD to mollify your interviewer.
Finally, be ready with some burning questions from your end so that you can make this interview session a two-way one. Hiring managers will invariably give you the chance to ask questions, therefore, ask meaningful questions without hesitating as they too prefer inquisitiveness in candidates.
Usually, there will be an assessment day where you will have further rounds of interviews in UK recruitment process. The structure of this stage of recruitment might vary from one organization to another. This time you will have to face interviews with senior managers. You might be asked to give a small presentation on a specific topic and participate in a group discussion in addition to an e-tray (or in-tray) exercise. The group discussion exercise is quite self-illustrative. It is recommended not to be the over-talkative person who takeovers the discussion. Try to give others an equal opportunity to present their views. There will be evaluators in the room who will be there to gauge how you work and behave in a team or group, not how you dominate others.
This e-tray exercise is mainly devised to examine your analytical as well as organizational skills. You will be given a computer where you will find an inbox. You can get emails and you will have to send responses to those emails within a given time frame. You will have to ensure that you have responded to all the emails within the prescribed time limit. The in-tray version of the test is just the non-electric and manual version of the test. Here, you might be given a certain number of files on the desk and you will have to clear and complete the work within the given time.
Within a few days of the assessment day, you will get an e-mail with the result of your job application with some feedback based on your performance. These feedbacks are certainly very helpful for improving your chances in other interviews. If you are unsuccessful this time, keep trying as it might not be your fault at all. Don’t always overthink and overanalyze yourself. It may be that the hiring managers are hunting for people with a different skill set for that position.
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