Stage 4: Helping your trainee with planning implementation
The focus of your support at this stage should be on encouraging the trainee to give adequate attention to completing their application forms or CVs and also preparing for the interview process.
How much help is it permissible to give?
Whether or not you are involved in shortlisting or interviewing, it is certainly permissible for you to help your trainee plan Stage 4 appropriately. The sorts of issue that you might want to discuss with your trainee include the following.
- The practicalities of the application process. These include: how many applications they can submit; deadlines, and when they need to start drafting answers/their CV in order to meet them; and the importance of reading through forms extremely carefully before they start writing a single word.
- Looking at the process from the recruiter’s point of view. This involves tailoring application form answers or one’s CV to the person specification. But it doesn’t involve simply re-iterating the person specification, which is irritating in the extreme for the reader.
- Checking and double checking. Spelling or grammatical mistakes give a sloppy impression, and even if they don’t involve the loss of marks, they convey the message that the candidate does not always pay adequate attention to detail.
- Plagiarism. The trainee needs to look at the advice that has been given as part of the application process and then adhere to it. If they have to sign to confirm that a given answer is their own work and it later transpires that it was written by somebody else, then their application would be in jeopardy.
Beyond this initial support, you can look at CVs or draft application forms and make general comments. For example, ‘I don’t think that you have adequately answered the second part of the question’ or ‘You could give a bit more detail about the practical implications of your audit project’. But you should avoid suggesting specific wording for an application form or CV.
If you are going to be involved in shortlisting or interviewing then it is probably advisable to suggest that your trainee has a more detailed conversation about their application or the interview process with another colleague.
The resource section contains a list of resources that the trainee can consult to help them with written applications, and also when preparing for interviews.
Encourage your trainee to think through the sorts of question they are likely to be asked at interview and prepare strong answers to them. They can also prepare a small number of examples (taken from their learning portfolio) that clearly demonstrate their key skills and abilities. In addition, they should have thought through some examples of areas in which they are weaker, or of mistakes they have made in the past and what they learnt from them.
If you are not involved in the interview process, then you might want to provide a ‘mock’ interview with a trainee, or group of trainees.
How to support a trainee who consistently underperforms at interview
The first task is to identify the roots of the problem. Did they prepare adequately for previous interviews? Have they done sufficient background reading on how best to prepare for an interview (see References section for useful resources).
If it seems that the trainee understands the interview process and has prepared adequately, then it can be very helpful to offer them a mock interview with detailed feedback. Somebody with additional career support experience, such as a member of the foundation faculty or the deanery careers team may be able to do this (see ‘Tiers of career support’). But if this support is not available locally, or if the interview difficulties are particularly severe, you might want to suggest that your trainee invests in specialist interview help (see the Resources section).