As part of Enhancement Week 3 this year (Wednesday 16th March) four brave postgraduate students put themselves forward for a mock job interview session. The interviews were set up as close to the real thing as possible. The interview panel comprised Nick Rowson (Landscape Lead of Atkins Global), David Jarvis of David Jarvis and Associates and former President of the Landscape Institute, Pauline Ascroft a Careers Consultant and Allan Mitchell, Undergraduate Course Leader the founder of former Director of MHP Design Ltd. The interview panel drew up a fictitious position with Atkins Global and subsequently sought applicants from the current postgrad year who are all in the process of thinking about job applications, portfolio’s and CV’s. Each of the volunteers had to submit a portfolio and CV in response to a job description and person specification. The four volunteers were;
Rob Sewell (a late stand-in and many thanks to Rob)
The session was open to all the other year groups and so we had a very interested audience adding a further dimension to the postgrads interview nerves.
The four students were all asked the same questions and we inevitably had quite a range of answers and some quite amusing responses. The panel kept notes and at the plenary session each of the candidates received specific feedback on their performance from the four panel members. The panel asked the following questions:
- What do you know about Atkins Ltd in terms of the type of work they do and the company set up?
- What are some of your long-range professional goals as a landscape architect? How do you think this job will help you achieve some of those goals?
- What is your understanding of the word sustainability and how do you see it applying to the world of landscape architecture?
- Which recent landscape project has inspired you and why?
- Talk me through a time when you have used your initiative to develop a solution for a manager, client or customer
- What was it?
- How successful was it?
- How do you ensure that you are working to the best of your ability?
- What goals do you set yourself?
- How do you make sure that you achieve them?
- Describe your competency with the application of computer software packages
- What is meant by ‘Inclusive Design’ and what areas would this design philosophy cover. Give us some examples
- Question relating to individual CV or portfolio – Panel members to consider.
- What three words best describe you? (Or what three words would your best friend/last employer use?)
- From time to time we come across people who we find it difficult to deal with.
- Describe a particular occasion when this happened to you
- How did you handle this situation?
- What was the outcome?
- What is your proudest achievement to date?
- Tell me about a time when honesty was the best strategy?
- On the assumption that you have checked out the Atkins website – what did you think of it? And do you have any suggestions regarding things you might change to improve it?
- What makes you angry?
- Do you have any questions for us?
Whilst each of the interviewees was uniquely different in terms of their character and responses to each of the questions asked, the panel unanimously felt that all the students were eminently employable and were very impressed with the students’ knowledge and the professional approach which they brought to this exercise. Nick and David thoroughly enjoyed themselves and both took some valuable lessons home themselves.
The morning finished up with a buffet lunch when everyone involved was able to discuss the outcomes and to meet and chat with two highly respected landscape practitioners. Both companies (Atkins and David Jarvis Associates) are soon to be looking for new staff – WATCH THIS SPACE!!!!!