P. 1
University of Leicester’s Guide to Job Hunting

University of Leicester’s Guide to Job Hunting


|Views: 240|Likes:
Published by David Connolly
This guide has been written as a useful source of information and advice for students on the University of Leicester’s MA/Diploma in Museum Studies in their search for employment opportunities. As well as practical tips for making written applications and performing well at interviews, the guide provides useful tips for approaching and managing the job hunting process and further sources of information. Although this guide is written mainly for those seeking opportunities in the UK, many of the principles of making effective applications can also be used by those seeking employment elsewhere in the world. It is important, however, to research the appropriate methods for the countries to which you are applying, as application methods and employer expectations can vary.
This guide has been written as a useful source of information and advice for students on the University of Leicester’s MA/Diploma in Museum Studies in their search for employment opportunities. As well as practical tips for making written applications and performing well at interviews, the guide provides useful tips for approaching and managing the job hunting process and further sources of information. Although this guide is written mainly for those seeking opportunities in the UK, many of the principles of making effective applications can also be used by those seeking employment elsewhere in the world. It is important, however, to research the appropriate methods for the countries to which you are applying, as application methods and employer expectations can vary.

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: David Connolly on Nov 30, 2008


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less






Postgraduate Diploma/Masters Degree

A Jobhunter’s Guide

University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

A Job Hunter’s Guide

Contents Page Introduction Making Effective Applications The Application Form The Curriculum Vitae (CV) The Covering Letter Active Words for Job Applications The Interview Hot Tips from Leicestershire Museums Service The application and interview system Equal opportunities The interview Other useful tips And finally… Further Sources of Information 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 15 15 16 16 18 18 20


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

This guide has been written as a useful source of information and advice for students on the University of Leicester’s MA/Diploma in Museum Studies in their search for employment opportunities. As well as practical tips for making written applications and performing well at interviews, the guide provides useful tips for approaching and managing the job hunting process and further sources of information. Although this guide is written mainly for those seeking opportunities in the UK, many of the principles of making effective applications can also be used by those seeking employment elsewhere in the world. It is important, however, to research the appropriate methods for the countries to which you are applying, as application methods and employer expectations can vary. As part of the job hunting process, it is always helpful to seek help and advice from others, including tutors, careers advisers, friends, family and employers. Feedback on written applications and opportunities to discuss your ideas and strategies can help to improve your applications and support you in a process that will be challenging and may take some time. We hope that you find this guide useful and the Department would welcome any feedback on its content or style.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

Making Effective Applications
Getting the job you want following your postgraduate course will very much depend on the quality of the skills and experience you have to offer an employer. You will be judged on your academic performance, work experience and other relevant areas of knowledge or achievement. The key to successful job hunting, however, lies in the effectiveness of the applications that you make. All the skills and experience in the world might not count for anything unless the content and presentation of your applications can do them justice. Whether you are completing an application form or writing a CV and covering letter, the following principles should get you off to a good start. Research Before you even think of putting pen to paper, find out as much as you can about the post for which you are applying and the organisation in which it is based. Use the job description, general careers information and any contacts that you have to help you. It is essential that your application is targeted to the job that you are applying for. So when you start to plan your application, use relevant information that highlights appropriate skills and experience. All applications that you make should be able to ‘sell’ what you have to offer, so treat them as marketing documents. Don’t be afraid to promote your strengths, even if this might seem false or unnatural. Choosing appropriate language will help you to sell yourself on paper and a list of ‘active words for job applications’ can be found later in this pack. The style of your application should reflect the type of organisation to which you are applying, but in general should be concise and easy to read. Sometimes the style of your writing can say something about the type of person you are, so use this to your advantage if possible. Don’t feel that you always have to use long paragraphs; sub-headings and bullet points can help you to organise your information and help the employer to read your application quickly.






University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

The Application Form
Completing a job application form is never usually an exciting prospect, although the thought of being offered that ideal job is something else entirely. Deciding what to put in your application can be difficult and you will probably have more than one application form to fill in at any one time. Therefore, starting off with a good strategy, and getting it right early on, will enable you to submit multiple application forms which will hopefully be strong enough to get you on the shortlist for interview.

Providing standard information On every application form you will be asked to complete several boxes with personal details, academic qualifications and a record of your employment history. Most of this information is fairly easy to supply, although sometimes you may need to be selective if you have too many entries for the space provided. Most people are tempted to start with these ‘easier’ sections, but remember that all sections should be presented as neatly and concisely as possible. Completing the “big box” On most forms, particularly if you are applying to local authority museums or galleries, you will be expected to complete a large box with information that explains your reasons for applying for the post and emphasises the skills and experience that make you suitable for it. This is usually the hard bit! As with most challenging tasks, however, filling this box can be more easily tackled if you break it down into several stages. The following tips may provide a useful structure to work to.

Read the job description thoroughly, along with any information you have about the career area and the organisation. Highlight the key words, activities or skill areas that you will need to address in order to target your application effectively. Mark each item in some way according to whether or not you already fulfil the requirement; some job descriptions will specify ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria. According to the perceived priority of each item, write out a new list in the order you wish to respond to them. Alongside each skill area jot down examples of how you can demonstrate your competence in this area. To avoid repetition, grouping some items together may be necessary. Check if there are areas of expertise that haven’t been asked for but are relevant to the application and can strengthen your case. If there are any gaps in your experience, or some of the criteria are unaccounted for, then jot down your interest in developing your skills in this area, or use other evidence that can highlight your potential for this aspect of the job. Decide how you are going to present your ideas in full statements or sentences, remembering to use the appropriate language and


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide style to make it dynamic and relevant, whilst at the same time keeping it clear and concise.

It is always worth getting a tutor or careers adviser to read a rough draft of your application forms, at least in the early stages of your job search. If you can’t arrange this then at least get a friend to read through them to make sure they are easy to follow and to look out for any spelling mistakes. The final presentation of your application form is crucial. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and use your best writing!

The Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Whilst many adverts for jobs in museums and galleries will ask you to complete an application form, it is essential that you also have an effective CV. In a competitive job market the content and style of your CV may be what secures some more work experience or a job interview, so it is well worth spending time on it. The following tips should get you started. A good CV will both inform an employer of your skills and experience and persuade them that you are worth interviewing. Your CV belongs to you and should be unique. There isn’t a perfect CV and you may need to develop 2 or 3 different versions. Always show your CV to someone else, asking them to check through it and give you some feedback. Why send a CV? a) an employer has specified this in a job advertisement; or b) you are approaching employers speculatively about jobs. In either case it is your chance to sell yourself and therefore you need to know what your selling points are, i.e. the relevant skills, qualifications, interests and experience that the employer is interested in. Looking at job descriptions and person specifications will help. What should a CV include? Obviously you have discretion over what to include and what to leave out, but in general a CV should contain the following information:

Personal Details name, address, ‘phone number, date of birth; Education fuller details of your most recent education and list this first; Work Experience again, putting your most recent first; Interests try and specify your level of involvement in these, particularly where you held a position of responsibility; Relevant Skills for example, computing, administrative, practical skills - ideally the


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide ones that are required in the post/s for which you are applying;

Referees normally two: an academic tutor and someone who can comment on your performance in a work environment. Don’t forget to ask your referees’ permission first.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide How should a CV be laid out? The order of the sections you use will vary according to the aspects of your life that you want to stress. If you have plenty of relevant work experience you might place this information above your education in order to highlight it. If your museum qualification is what you want to sell, then focus on this first. Try to get inside the mind of the reader to imagine what they are going to be interested in; this will help you to decide which details to emphasise. There are two broad styles of CV although many variations exist within these: CHRONOLOGICAL The information is arranged under general headings (Education, Employment etc.) and set out chronologically thereafter with the most recent events first; SKILLS BASED All information is analysed for evidence of the most relevant skills for the job and then arranged under skills headings. This is known as targeting your CV and is increasingly common. A skills based CV is particularly useful if you are applying for a specific post or you are writing speculatively to a certain type of organisation, e.g. a museum. Here are a few general points to bear in mind about the layout of CVs: • no more than 2 sides of A4 word processed text; • be consistent in how you present information; • do not mix too many typefaces and font sizes; • leave plenty of space around the information so that it is clear; • use relevant information, bullet points and avoid lengthy descriptions;

try to use the first person and the active voice wherever possible; for example, “I organised...”, “I developed..”, “I co-ordinated..”.

“Should I adopt an unusual approach?” This can work, but it very much depends on who you are contacting. Think about who will read the CV and how they might react to an off-beat style. Employers are fairly conventional in general and want to see evidence of your skills and abilities above all else, but if you can encourage them to read more about you by taking a slightly different approach then it might be worth the risk.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

The Covering Letter
The covering letter is an equally important part of any application and should always be used to accompany a CV and sometimes to accompany an application form. Why send a covering letter? To: a) encourage an employer to read the accompanying CV or application form; b) draw together relevant facts from your CV or application form and shape them to the needs of the employer; c) explain why you are sending a speculative CV. What should a covering letter include? It should provide a logical sequence of information designed to capture the reader’s attention. You can also use it to explain special circumstances or draw attention to a particular aspect of your experience. The following guidelines will help you to construct your letter. Tell the employer: • what you are applying for and where you saw it advertised; • who you are; • why you want the job and why you would like to work for the organisation; • how you feel that your qualifications and experience make you a suitable candidate; • what you want them to do for you, e.g. ask about the possibility of arranging an interview or a visit; • what you hope will happen next, e.g. a polite, positive closing statement, saying you will telephone to follow up your letter or that you look forward to hearing from them. How should a covering letter be laid out? From top to bottom, your letter should usually adhere to the following layout: • Your address in the top right hand corner; • The employer’s name and address underneath on the left hand side; • The date; • Dear Mr or Ms Employer (or if you don’t know their name, Dear Sir or Madam); • A reference number for the job (if you know it) or your own heading; • The main body of the letter, flush to the left hand margin, with a line between paragraphs; • Yours sincerely, if you know their name or Yours faithfully if you don’t. (To remember this, never put two Ss together - i.e. Sir and Sincerely.); • A space for you to sign; • Your own name.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide What are the main points to remember? • Try to keep your letter to one side of A4 word processed text, printed on good quality plain paper and ensure that the layout looks balanced; • Use positive and active words where possible; • Sell yourself and emphasise your enthusiasm and commitment for the profession!

Active words for job applications
Consider the following words to use when completing your application forms and writing your CV and covering letters. They will help you to make a positive and favourable impression. Achieved Administered Analysed Built Capable Competent Communicated Consistent Controlled Co-ordinated Created Designed Developed Directed Economical Efficient Engineered Established Expanded Experienced Guided Implemented Improved Initiated Led Managed Monitored Organised Participated Positive Processed Productive Proficient Profitable Qualified Repaired Resourceful Sold Specialised Stable Successful Supervised Trained Versatile Wide background

Expanding Your List of Personal Skills Advising individuals Arranging social events Calculating numerical data Checking for accuracy Classifying records Coaching individuals Compiling figures Constructing buildings Co-ordinating events Corresponding with customers Counselling people Delegating responsibility Dispensing information Drafting reports Editing documents Handling customers’ complaints Inspecting Interpreting data Interviewing people Maintaining records managing staff Mediating between people Motivating others Operating equipment Organising people and work Persuading others Planning agendas Preparing charts or diagrams Programming microcomputers Promoting events Protecting property Raising funds Recording data Repairing equipment Reviewing Running meetings Selling products Serving the public Setting up demonstrations Speaking in public Supervising staff Teaching


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

The Interview
Preparing for interviews Job offers are won or lost on the thoroughness of the preparations you make before an interview. Many organisations have gone to a great deal of trouble drawing up job descriptions and person specifications as well as thinking through starting salaries, reviews and induction procedures. Most appreciate how costly it is to make the wrong appointment and therefore put considerable effort into their selection procedures. You must match this preparation. Just as you would not run a marathon without a great deal of preparation, so the wise applicant will not approach the interview without getting “interview fit”.

Pre-conditioning the interviewer It is well established that if interviewers have formed an opinion about a candidate before the interview then they will expect this to be fulfilled during the interview and will treat this candidate differently. Consequently, anything you can do to create the right impression will be valuable. Begin by submitting in the first place: • a professional-looking CV that focuses on your achievements; • a well-written application form which emphasises your strengths; • a positive covering letter that touches on your main ‘selling points’ and conveys your enthusiasm for the job. If the interviewer expects you to be good you will sense their favourable attitude and be encouraged to try even harder to present your strengths. Think Positively It is surprising how many people prepare themselves to fail the interview. They create barriers before they start by saying things such as ‘I’m too old/young’, ‘I’m too experienced/inexperienced’, ‘I’m male/female and they’ll want a woman/man for the job’ etc. You should remember that you have obtained the interview on the strength of your CV/application. The interviewer is already aware of your details, so don’t be too concerned on these issues. Background Information Before attending an interview it is important that you find out as much as possible about the job concerned; you may be able to obtain more details from the Personnel Department. You also need to find out as much as possible about the company - its background, the range of services it provides, its policies on staffing, promotion and so on. You should be able to get brochures and leaflets about most museums and galleries.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide It is very valuable to show the interviewer that you have taken the trouble to find out about the place where you hope to work and it suggests that you are organised and have initiative. It also puts you in a much better position to decide whether or not the job is for you. Prepare possible questions/answers and practise them. The better you prepare and practise your answers, the better you will perform on the day. We use different parts of our brain for thinking and talking, and that is why it is important to practise your answers out loud. This could be with a friend or relative, or even in the bath or in a quiet room by yourself. You will find that you will give a much better impression at interview, and will clearly show the interviewer that you have really thought about the job and what you have to offer. Keep asking yourself those open-ended questions that intervi ewers use: ‘How...?’, ‘Why...?’, ‘What..?’ etc. Prepare your own questions for the interviewer It is important that you do not ‘freeze’ when the interviewer says “and have you any questions for me?” Try to think of a list of questions before the interview. Some of them may well be answered during the interview - and if this is the case don’t ask them just because they are on your list! Asking questions shows that you have thought about the job and demonstrates an intelligent and enquiring mind. The more you prepare beforehand the better your chances of success. This could be your future at stake - so do take that little extra time and trouble that will enable you to perform with confidence and do well on the day.

Impressing at interviews How to create a favourable first impression The interviewer has already formed some impression of you from your application form or curriculum vitae. This is probably a favourable impression as you have been invited for an interview. However, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact which can either confirm or contradict the impression already created. You have a short time in which to make a positive impression on someone. You can increase your chances of doing this by following a few basic rules. Be on time Allow plenty of time for your journey and aim to arrive a few minutes before your appointment time. This will give you the chance to compose yourself and find out where the reception and cloakroom are. It is important to check times and routes of trains or buses beforehand. If at all possible do a dummy run the day before. Don’t work to such a tight travelling schedule that you put yourself under undue pressure. It is far better to arrive in plenty of time and be relaxed, than to be dead on time or later and anxious. You need to save all of your energy for the interview.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide Be well presented Many people will argue that you should not be assessed on ‘how you look’ but on ‘who you are’ and what you can contribute. However, in practice appearance does matter. Many employers are fairly conservative and it is in your interest to look smart. If you take trouble over your appearance, it gives the impression to employers that you are serious about the job and that it is important to you. It may also help the employer to “see” you in the job. Here are some basic rules for dress: • • • • • • • Dress to suit yourself - style and colour - rather than high fashion Be traditional rather than avant-garde Theories suggest dark colours are more powerful than lighter ones Get a good haircut Wear good shoes and keep them clean If you buy a new outfit, practise wearing it before the interview Dress to the accepted style of the profession or job

Be friendly Try to be as relaxed as possible in the circumstances! Greet the interviewer with a friendly smile and a firm, not vice-like handshake. Don’t smoke unless invited to. Remember that some interviewers may be nervous too, and will welcome talking to a relaxed, friendly person. Remember also that many trained interviewers will try to help you to relax as they realise what a nerve-racking process interviews can be. Body language Ensure that you try to display positive signals. Do look at the interviewer directly. Avoiding eye contact can give the impression that you are not being entirely honest. Sit comfortably but do not slouch. Don’t fiddle with things such as your hair, money in your pockets or your earrings. Listen to what the interviewer is saying - don’t try and jump in. What we say with our bodies is very powerful, and you may increase your likelihood of success by ensuring that you give out positive non-verbal clues. The major ones are: • smiling often • nodding the head when the interviewer is speaking • leaning forward while listening and when replying • maintaining a high level of eye contact all of which deliver a positive message to the interviewer that you are interested in what is being said, without being either too anxious or too relaxed. Be positive - about yourself and your achievements. Even jobs or situations in which you feel you were not highly successful can, with a bit of thought, be put in a positive light. It shows a certain amount of strength in being able to admit that you made a mistake and learned from it.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide Remember that the interview is a two-way process. Although you are selling yourself, you are not the only one under scrutiny. The interviewer is looking at you to see if you have the relevant qualifications, experience and personality, to fit with that particular environment. You are looking at the interviewer and the surroundings to decide whether or not you like what is on offer. Ask yourself: “Is this really what I want?”. Dealing with nerves Interviews are inherently stressful but there are measures you can take to avoid your anxiety overwhelming you. If you can, expect and cope with a moderate degree of nervousness as it will help keep you alert and focused. The best way to avoid high levels of anxiety is to get some idea about what to expect and ways you can deal with it. Eat lightly before an interview. Research has shown that proteins are better in this respect and that a heavy meal reduces your alertness. Avoid too much caffeine which could raise your level of nervousness. Deep breathing can be very calming before you enter the intervi ew room. Remember that when you are nervous your breaths will shallow and be fairly rapid.

Interview Questions All interview questions will be based around the criteria listed in the Job Specification as these are the criteria which the panel need to assess in order to come to a decision. It is, therefore, a good idea to think of examples of times when you have shown these skills or abilities in preparation for the interview.

Types of Interview Questions Open Questions These questions are the usual questions you will face and are phrased in such a way that a yes or no response cannot be given. They are usually designed elicit full explanations and to assess your technical/professional knowledge. Behavioural Questions These questions also require a full explanation and not a yes or no answer and are based on the premise that an individual’s future behaviour in response to a given situation can be predicted, based on how they have reacted to similar situations in the past. (Research has shown that no matter how people try to change their behaviour for a work situation, they would probably revert to their natural behaviour in a crisis.)


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide Scenario Questions These questions are very common and basically present you with a theoretical scenario, and you will be asked to indicate how you would deal with the situation, or what advice you would give. E.g. a member of the public approached you in the museum and they’re not happy because an exhibit donated by their grandmother, in her opinion, has not been looked after by the museum. Supplementary Questions County Councils will usually produce a standard set of questions for each set of interviews, and these will be asked of each and every candidate to ensure fair treatment. However, if the panel feels that your response does not give them all the information they need, they may well ask supplementary questions designed to elicit the information they want.

Typical interview questions To be able to talk fluently and confidently at interview is regarded positively by most selectors but this is not something that comes easily to everyone. Preparation for an interview can help you to be more fluent and appear more confident. When preparing answers to the questions below note that they are only a guide to what you might be asked at an interview; additional questions are also likely to be based on the information you have given in your application form or CV (for example about your work experience). Education & Leisure 1. What interests you most about your course? 2. Describe how you typically approach a project? 3. If you could change your course in any way, what would you change? 4. How would your tutor describe your work? 5. What are your leisure time activities? Skills, Attributes and Potential 1. If we asked for a reference what would it say about you? 2. How would a friend describe you? 3. What is your major achievement? 4. How do you manage your day? 5. How do you get things done? 6. What do you consider yourself good at doing? 7. What are your strengths? 8. What are your weaknesses? 9. Describe a difficult situation and what you did about it? 10. How well do you work in a team? 11. This position has a large amount of stress/negotiation/teamwork/isolation/travel. How will you cope with this? 12. How do you respond to stress? 13. What would you look for in a manager? 14. What would you look for in a subordinate? 15. How do you/would you get the best out of people?


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide 16. What makes you think you can be successful with us? 17. What do you think you can bring to this position/company? Occupational Awareness 1. What do you see as the pros and cons of this career? 2. What will you look forward to most in this job? 3. What do you know about our organisation? 4. In your view, what are the major problems/opportunities facing this company/industry/sector? Miscellaneous Questions 1. What sort of support/training/induction would you like for this job? 2. Do you have any questions for us? 3. What will you do if you don’t get this job? 4. What else have you applied for? 5. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Some possible museum/gallery interview questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. What museum/gallery exhibitions have you been to recently and liked or disliked and why? What approaches might you use to make our exhibitions more accessible to young children? What kind of information might you use to help you compile an exhibitions programme for next year? What do you think are the main challenges facing museums today? What issues would you consider when deciding whether or not to tour an exhibition? How would you approach the marketing of an exhibition aimed at teenagers? In what circumstances do you think interactive exhibits are most appropriate? Describe the activity that you enjoyed most during your recent museum work placement. What do you think are the two most important skills or attributes that we are looking for in the person who is offered this post?

10. How has your postgraduate course made you a more suitable candidate for a job at this museum? 11. Describe your experience of working with the public and say how this might be important. 12. Why have you chosen this profession and how do you see yourself progressing in the future?


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

Hot tips from Leicestershire Museums Service
On a visit to the Department of Museum Studies in 1998, Heather Broughton from Leicestershire Museums Service shared her knowledge and experience of interviewing for museum posts in local authorities. Accompanied by an experienced colleague from the County Council’s Personnel Department, she provided the following information which is packed full of information and advice for job applicants!

The application and interview system
Relationship between questions and Job Specification The application form is extremely important, because you will be assessed on this information during the course of the interview. The questions you are asked will also relate to aspects of the Job Specification which describes the qualities the panel wish to find in their ideal candidate. It is necessary to review the job criteria and try to identify some examples of when you have demonstrated these skills and abilities. For example, when you’ve undertaken a task or project that has involved liaising with a variety of organisations or using interpersonal skills. This may not necessarily be in a work based environment. Write it all down, practice it and remember it, but don’t learn it rigidly. It is highly unlikely that a question that you are asked at interview will be one that you have rehearsed - it will be a variation on that question. Written tests and presentations Quite often the interview process will involve a written test or presentation. Normally you are told about written tests on the day, but these are usually job related. Presentation titles are normally given in advance so that you can prepare. Most organisations will advise you as to the availability of OHPs etc., but if they don’t, ring and ask. If you are given a subject with which you are not entirely familiar then ring up and ask about it. Sometimes this is an initiative test to see if you will phone the organisation. Recently, candidates from all over the country were asked to give a presentation on the developments at Snibston Discovery Park. Part of the test was for them to ring the museum and get the information they needed for the presentation. Assessment systems These vary. Some systems mark candidates out of 10 against a set of criteria, but Leicestershire County Council uses a graded system. The Job Specification is broken down into categories such as Experience and Skills, Communication Skills, Personal Attributes etc. Candidates are assigned a grade reflecting whether they: a) b) c) d) e) Exceed the essential and desirable requirements of the Specification Meet all essential criteria and many of the desirable criteria Meet the essential criteria only Fail to meet all of the essential criteria Fail to meet many of the essential criteria


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide At the end of the interview, each panel member will individually award marks to the candidates and on the basis of these grades the interview panel will then decide who is the best candidate. It is usually very easy to make a decision, but if this is impossible, further interviews or psychometric tests may be arranged. It is often said that an individual can decide on a good candidate in the first 30 seconds of an interview, so it is important that at that point you stay focused.

Equal Opportunities
What is Equal Opportunities? Legislation such as the Race Discrimination and Sex Discrimination Acts formally outlawed issues such as race and gender being a consideration in terms of recruitment, promotion, access to training, employment conditions and general treatment. As a result, many employers took the decision to formalise this legislation in the workplace by incorporating it into their policies. Within Leicestershire County Council the E.O. policy now also covers other factors including working towards a workforce which reflects the ethnic mix of the local community. Role within the interview process Such policy statements mean that any individual has the right to be assessed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability to do the job and these are the only factors that can be taken into account when you are being considered for a position within the organisation. Gender, race and disability are not factors. In practical terms this means that there are certain questions which you should never ever be asked, and if you are asked, are under no obligation to answer. For example, if female candidates are asked about their future family plans - this is not relevant as to their ability to do the job. These things can fase you and cause you difficulty at the time, particularly if you are nervous and unsure. Don’t answer anything personal that you don’t feel is relevant to the job. Impact of the Disability Discrimination Act The DDA became law in 1995 and its implications are that employers have to be prepared to make reasonable adjustments in order to make employing a disabled candidate possible, provided that they meet the essential requirements for the position in the first instance.

The Interview
How the interview will proceed The interview format very much depends on the organisation, but will normally follow a set procedure. The County Council’s procedure is as follows: • • Collection from Reception Written test (if appropriate)


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide • Introduction of panel During this, make yourself comfortable; your chair doesn’t have to stay where it is - move it if you are straining to see all the panel; take off your jacket if you get too hot; ask for the curtains to be shut if the sun is shining in your eyes. • Outline of interview format The panel will go through the interview procedure and may ask if you have any questions about it. The interview usually lasts about an hour. • • Brief outline of the work of the department and section where the job is based Interview questions - standard questions asked to all candidates In local authorities there are rules and procedures that need to be followed, so personnel officers make an important contribution to the recruitment process. Interviewers on some panels, therefore, may not know much about museum work, so it is important to communicate well. You need to make a very positive impression on your panel. • • Brief outline of some of the more salient conditions of service Questions from the candidate Take this opportunity to ask questions!! If you don’t you will appear disinterested. If the questions that you had planned have already been answered during the interview, tell them what they were. At least then they know that you did have some interest. At this point some candidates bring out a long list of ‘killer questions’, which relate to money, whether they get a mobile phone, where their desk will be, etc., giving completely the wrong impression about why they want the job. Relate your questions to the professional elements of the job. Try not to ask questions that are already answered in the information pack or where the answers are easily sought elsewhere. • Details of expected response time

Some interviews will incorporate a short tour of the work areas and a brief introduction to some of the staff members. A lot of people see the interview as a one-way process, but it isn’t. As well as the panel deciding who it is they want to appoint, this is your chance to find out if this is a job that you actually want. What an organisation looks like on paper can be very different from the way it operates in reality. It is a two-way process where you can talk to the interviewers, ask them questions and clarify issues which are unclear. Candidate presentation The way you present yourself at interview is very important and as soon as you walk into an interview you are being matched up to the panel’s 18

University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide expectations. Think about what the job is, what sort of work you will be doing, how they might expect you to present yourself and dress accordingly. Always dress smartly and look as though you’ve made the effort. During the interview try to remain calm and, although difficult, try not to fidget, as it can be very distracting for the interviewers. Don’t rush your answers. If you don’t understand a question ask the interviewer to either repeat or rephrase it.

Other useful tips
• If, in your letter inviting you for interview, you are offered the chance to do something else as part of the process, e.g. a tour or site visit, you must take it. Even if you’ve already worked there, it is still important that you present yourself in the same way as all the other candidates. If you go for an interview and you already have inside knowledge of the museum and they already know you, you still have to sell yourself. Within museum services there is often an open style of recruiting. You will probably know, or get to know, who the other candidates are. Some local authorities will request references from your current employer before they interview you. You must specify clearly if you don’t want them to contact any of your referees unless/until you are offered a position. The size or reputation of the organisation doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of the recruitment process and how informed you will be about the job and the organisation. Recruitment may vary between local authority, national and independent museums. Group discussions can be challenging. You don’t have to say much, but what you do say needs to be relevant. You are probably also being watched if you are having lunch with other candidates and this can be hard if you are trying to get your bearings, eat, make polite conversation and impress at the same time. What really counts is the one to one interview and this is your opportunity to impress and put your case forward. As long as you go for the interview having assessed the organisation, having got your head round where you think they are going, having decided that you want to be part of them, looking the part and feeling confident with yourself for that job, then that’s as much as you can do. The more you prepare, the higher your level of self confidence will be and preparing yourself well is all that you can hope to do. The County Council has been striving to create a workforce that reflects the ethnic make-up of the local community. It has a positive discrimination policy where they won’t appoint anyone if they haven’t had enough applications from ethnic minority groups. It tries to ensure that the jobs are as ‘open’ as possible, that there is no discrimination (direct or indirect) in the recruitment process and that interviewers are trained to avoid this. The ultimate aim for the interview panel is to find the best person for the job. 19

• •

University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide •

If you will be unavailable for interview on certain dates there will usually be a space to indicate this on the application form. Where possible, interviews are scheduled around dates of unavailability. If the date is already set and you can’t make it, there is no harm in asking if you could be seen the day before or the day after, but you must have a good reason, e.g. you will be abroad or taking an exam. It is worthwhile asking for feedback from the interview panel if you are unsuccessful at an interview (even if they don’t invite you to do this) so that you can identify how you might improve your performance at future interviews.

And finally ...
• Employers are essentially looking for commitment, keenness and enthusiasm. People who apply in a routine or off-hand way will be noticed for their lack of motivation. Some candidates may need to have a sensible approach to working with the public and have thought out how they would tackle visitors and enquiries. This often requires a specific type of personality, which should come across in the interview. Some posts do require a level of experience in some areas. But even if your experience is limited, your commitment can still come across at interview. You must, however, demonstrate something special in what you have done. Postgraduate students should at least have done voluntary work in their vacations if they haven’t done any paid work. To compensate for a lack of experience in a certain area, you must be well versed in the related theory and issues.


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide

Further Sources of Information
Careers Service Resources
The following resources are available for reference in the Careers Service Information Room, situated on the ground floor of College House on the main campus. ‘Making Applications’ (AGCAS booklet) ‘How to write a Curriculum Vitae’ (London University Careers Service) ‘Looking Good on Paper’ (AGCAS video - 21 minutes) ‘Why ask me that?’ (AGCAS video - 22 minutes) ‘Going for Interviews’ (AGCAS booklet) ‘Great Answers To Tough Interview Questions’ (M.Yate) ‘Being Interviewed’ (J. Perrett) ‘Interviews Made Easy’ (M. Parkinson)

Careers advisers are available every weekday to give help and advice on CVs, application forms and other issues. Ask at the Information Desk for more details or see our website: www.le.ac.uk/careers E-mail: careers@le.ac.uk Tel: 0116 252 2004 (Information Desk)

Professional Organisations
Museums Association 42 Clerkenwell Close London EC1R 0PA 0207 250 1836 Tel: 0207 608 2933 www.museumsassociation.org.uk E-Mail: katie@museumsassociation.org MLA 16 Queen Anne’s Gate London SW1H 9AA Tel: 0207 273 1444 www.resource.gov.uk


University of Leicester, Department of Museum Studies A Job Hunter’s Guide Gill Grigg Careers Adviser, University of Leicester Careers Service Revised January 2001


Department of Museum Studies University of Leicesater 103/105 Princess Rd East Leicester LE1 7LG Tel: +44(0) 116 252 3963 Email: museumstudies@le.ac.uk Web: le.ac.uk/museumstudies

The course material is and remains the property of the University (and must be immediately returned to the University upon request at any time) and is either the copyright of the University or of third parties who have licensed the University to make use of it. The course material is for the private study of the student to whom it is sent and any unauthorised use, copying or resale is not permitted. Unauthorised use may result in the course being terminated. The course material was created in the academic year 2002/2003.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->