There’s no shortage of information available out there on how to succeed at interview, but how do architecture placement interviews differ? Here are some hints and tips to help you make the most of your face-to-face time with an employer…
What to expect
- Be prepared to talk about what you want to achieve from your placement in terms of both your personal and professional development. Practices want to know that you are focussed, committed and worth investing in; they also want to know that you have realistic expectations and understand that you won’t be leading on their newly-acquired multi-million pound project!
- It is not uncommon for placement interviews to have a more informal or conversational feel; the people interviewing you want to put you ease and get to know you. Do try and relax during interview, but take care to remain professional. Remember, it’s not a chat with a mate!
- It may not always feel like it when you’re being grilled, but an interview is a two-way process. It’s just as important to find out whether the placement is a good fit for your own skills, interests and ambitions as it is for the practice to decide if you’re the right person to fill it.
- The best way to find out whether you are a good fit for each other is to ask questions! You will almost certainly get the chance to do this as part of the interview process, usually towards the end. What does the person interviewing find the most rewarding aspect of working in that practice? How would they describe the work culture here? What have previous placement students worked on or gone on to do? Make the most of the opportunity!
- Take a copy of your portfolio. This one might sound obvious, but if you’re taking a digital portfolio, for example, make sure facilities will be available to view it. If you’re taking a physical portfolio, make sure it’s a manageable and appropriate size, both in terms of dimensions (no A1-sized pages!) and length (your interview will be of a finite duration!).
Preparing for interview
Employers are always keen to hear why an applicant has chosen them, yet many fail to take the time to research the practice they are applying to.
Company websites are a good, but obvious, starting point. Practices will almost certainly have a portfolio of recent projects available online. Try to get a feel for their work and form an opinion on it. Also try looking at sector-specific publications, such as The Architects’ Journal.
Being able to demonstrate some knowledge of the practice you’re applying to is often considered an indicator of motivation and enthusiasm.
The Careers Service website offers more information on researching employers.
- Come prepared to talk about your experiences to date. Be familiar with everything you have included in your CV/application form/portfolio and be ready to discuss it in more detail. This is the only information your interviewer has about you, so they are likely to use it as a starting point for at least some of their questions!
- Take advantage of what your Careers Service has to offer! We run regular term-time workshops on ‘How to succeed at interview’ and offer a practice interview service for those who have an interview arranged in the near future.
Visit the Careers Service website for more practical information and advice on succeeding at interviews, or drop in and speak to us – no appointment needed!
After the interview
We hope you will be successful, but it’s not uncommon to attend more than one interview before securing a placement.
If you haven’t been successful, use your experience as an opportunity to learn and improve. Take some time to reflect on your interview performance. What do you feel went well? What do you think you could have done better? It’s a good idea to make a note of the questions you were asked, especially any that you found particularly difficult to answer.
Ask for feedback. Most practices will be happy to chat with you about your performance at interview. Feedback, along with self-reflection, can be a great way of building on and improving your approach and technique for future interviews.
Got the job?
Visit the Careers Service website for more information on handling job offers, including accepting or declining an offer.