Creating together

Fausta is a final year student in Marketing & Management, who completed a placement year with IBM in 2020/21. If you are interested in completing a placement between Stage 2 and Stage 3, you can find out more in the Business School UG Stage 2 Community 2021-22 on Canvas, or contact the NUBS Student Experience Team.


You might have heard that in any kind of job search a person might face some (or a lot of) rejection. I’ll be completely honest, it’s true! But don’t get disheartened by it.



I think the key in the placement search is to be ready for rejection – it doesn’t define you as a good or a bad candidate. It mostly comes down to how many people apply. For example, I had applied for a placement year with PUMA and I received a response letter explaining that over 1000 people have applied for one position. The odds were truly not in my favour and that was okay!



Once you make your way through the placement process you will get the chance to present yourself in interviews. I think the best way to approach interviews is exactly that – having a mindset that it is an opportunity to present your best self. The biggest thing that I have learnt in my placement year was that people appreciate others for who they are so make sure to be yourself!


Competency Based Interviews – My Experience

The most important thing for any interview is to be prepared. There are three types of preparation that you need to do:

  1. Learn to present your key hobbies and your personality
  2. Learn to present the key situations where you have demonstrated specific skills
  3. Learn to talk about the company and their background


  1. Your Personality

You will most likely have your interview with the people who you would be working with. I asked my placement manager how he selects people for roles, and he shared that the knowledge on how to do the job can be learnt and that he picks the people who are nice, friendly, team-players and have a positive attitude. Therefore, I would encourage you to speak about your hobbies, volunteering and any other interesting activities that you do outside of your studies. People are interested in people and their passions so don’t be afraid to talk about YOU!


  1. Key Situations

I have learned five key stories of how I have demonstrated communication, my ability to work in a team, leadership, my can-do attitude, and client focus skills. All these skills were mentioned in the job description, so it is best to analyse the job role and pick the most relevant ones to discuss.


The most helpful framework that I have learned in my placement year was the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. I used STAR daily when communicating with clients or my colleagues as it creates a very clear and easy to follow storyline. This is the perfect tactic to use in interviews as you need to be very concise with the way you represent yourself.


Once you have identified the key stories and learned to articulate them, you will be able to use them for multiple skills and interviews. The most important thing is to have a range of these in your mind so that even if you are nervous, you will be able to remember them and deliver.


  1. Information about the Company

I was asked the question, ‘Tell me what you know about our company?’ in every interview that I’ve had, so I would suggest doing as much research about the company as possible. The more you can tell them, the better! The most difficult question that I was asked in interview was ‘What do you think about the current strategy that the company is creating and what do you think it will achieve in the next five years?’. Therefore, make sure to research the business vision and strategy.


Mock interviews

Practice makes perfect so having a mock interview beforehand can be a beneficial way to practice some of your answers. I did my mock interview with the Newcastle University Careers Service and it was incredibly useful as I received constructive feedback and ideas for improvement on different aspects of my answers. I could not recommend this enough, make sure to check it out!


Although interviews can be stressful, just approach them the best you can – usually the interviewer just wants to get to know more about you as a person, so there truly is nothing to stress about! Good luck!

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