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HE Knowledge Hub Podcast: Series 3 – Episode 1- Interviews, Portfolios and Auditions


Welcome to the third series of the HE Knowledge Hub Podcast

In this first episode we’re going to be delving deeper into the HE interview process. As we’ll find out some applications don’t even involve interviews anymore, but rest solely on your portfolio; some will include auditions and certainly there’s no one in the course of their studying or career who’ll escape an interview so we have some priceless advice for how to approach those too, whether their HE interviews or otherwise. We’ll being joining our colleagues at Humber Outreach Programme (HOP) to have some chats that offer expert insight into a process that can be daunting for us all. Read on for notes on the content and further links.

Julia Ward – Oracy Workshops:

Julia worked as Articulacy with NSSW for many years delivering some outstanding sessions to support student’s confidence to speak and present in public, pupils flourished under her tutorage, realising potential they’d never previously dreamed of. Julia is co founder of Oracy Workshops where she is currently supporting students.

Preparation for any interview is key – you need a basic understanding of what you’re applying for – do you’re research. Expectations of the interviewer are different. You don’t have to be perfect, just suitable.

Regardless of being online or face to face – get in the zone, whether someone can see your feet or not feel prepared. Advice – cover yourself up, look at the camera not yourself.

Fake it till you make – having an interview can be intimidating for anyone. Walk tall, smile and make eye contact all gives the impression of confidence and you can trick your body into believing you are confident. Julia quotes Social psychologist Amy Cuddy who says:

“The mind shapes the body, and the body shapes the mind”. Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success. You can listen to Amy Cuddy’s TedTalks for more on this.

The interviewer is on your side. If you feel nerves getting the better of you, be honest, ask to answer the question again. This shows how you’d be as an employee or a student – honest and displaying initiative.

They want to know about your values – they’re called behavioural questions. Eg if you witnessed someone being bullied at school or faced conflict in a team. Competency questions, you can’t do everything, it’s unlikely that anyone is 100% perfect.

Julia’s mantra is “I can do it”.

If you’re practicing do it out loud, not just in your head. However, if you practice questions to the point of learning lines, you can sound over practiced and not very authentic, and if you forget what you practiced you can feel like you’ve forgotten your lines. Ask people to ask you random questions so you can practice thinking on your feet. The question that catches people out is: “tell me about yourself” so think of what you might say in answer to that question. You will also be given time, usually at the end of an interview to ask questions, best to have some prepared, based on your research of the university/college or organisation.

What kind of questions could you ask:

  • Where could they see you in 5 year’s time – what progression would be in the course/job etc, it shows them you’re committed.
  • What would they expect you to contribute to the organisation outside of the job role – do research eg green policy.
  • Maybe take notes – evidences reflective listening and shows you have a genuine interest.

Jamie Halton – Arts University Plymouth:

Jamie Halton works in student recruitment and events at Arts University Plymouth, and is a photography graduate himself so has first-hand experience of portfolios. As Jamie says AUP don’t do interviews but base course offers solely on application and portfolio so it really is a big deal, and what better way to evidence yourself as an artist.

The portfolio can include mixed media, writing and as long as you’re clear about it, the work of artists who’ve inspired you. It should demonstrate who you are as an artist, and what your personal creative process is.

Jamie’s advice is to include things you’ve done in your spare time to show that your passion goes beyond what you’re doing at school/college. Also that if you can be objective about it, it can make choosing what visual stuff makes the cut that much easier. He states in his own photography based portfolio he included no more than 20-30 actual photos.

The deadline for submitting a portfolio for AUP is the end of February, so very soon after the UCAS application deadline. But the great news is that by submitting a portfolio digitally, it makes it easier to manage your applications. And no more slogging cumbersome A2 portfolio cases about with you to interview. Although Jamie says there are still occasions when admissions staff may want to discuss your portfolio, and you can submit it physically should you wish to.

Sophie Clare – Actor living in Hull:

Sophie speaks to Rachel at HOP about acting auditions with some tips to assuage any nerves you may have if an audition is part of your HE interview process.

Here are some more tips about preparing for an audition:

There are many things you can do to prepare for your audition, so you feel confident and relaxed  on the day.

  • If you are a performer, practice the set piece or chosen pieces until you can perform them with confidence and authority.
  • Take advantage of any opportunities to perform in public or in front of other performers, to gain confidence and experience in performing under pressure.
  • For music applicants, practice with an accompanist as often as possible.
  • Have a practice audition, or stage one with friends, family, or your teacher.
  • Research the pieces you’ll be performing so you can talk about them in an informed way and answer any questions.
  • Be prepared to talk about your interests and any live performances you have seen.
  • Think about the questions you are likely to be asked, and make sure you are able to present your ideas confidently and coherently, and can show your initiative and commitment to what you do.
  • Consider what you want to know about the university/collegeand make a list of questions to ask.
  • Practice relaxation and breathing techniques to help manage nerves.

Download the UCAS – Making the Most of Your Audition guide.

Sound credits – https://www.bensound.com/


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