Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Discuss any aspect of applying for posts or courses (apart from the clinical psychology doctorate which has its own forum section), CVs, application forms, etc
Tinker
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Tinker » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:07 pm

Brilliant post ! :D

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Rapid
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Rapid » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:44 pm

Its just so difficult to get yourself across in these applications - I just pray recruiters look at my actual employment history, qualifications and skills rather than how much 'i LoVe PsYcHoLoGy'. Because anyone can say that in an application.

I understand looking through 100s of applicants can be a long and tedious process. But its pretty disheartening to find you think you've submitted a really good and unique application for a post, only to ponder whether the recruiter couldn't be arsed to look at it because they've read so many. A major part of getting a job in psychology is getting the rub of the green - hope that someone actually reads your application and takes it into consideration. As an applicant, that's all you ask for.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Ruthie » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:25 pm

I thought of this post today when I keenly volunteered to help shortlist for a clinical support worker post. One of our ward managers wants a CSW who will focus on psychosocial interventions and work with me to do stuff like relaxation exercises, problem solving groups, behavioural activation etc., on the wards. In the manager's own words, "I want a young, fresh CSW with heaps of ambition and enthusiasm and I don't care if they are only here for a year or less, I want someone who is going to throw themselves into the job and ideally a psychology graduate as we've always had good experiences of them in the past."

"Excellent, gimme those forms and I will separate the wheat from the chaff" I said and later regretted...

Now psychology graduates... here you are wanting your first step on the ladder and you apply for a support worker job and wonder why you don't get shortlisted... do any of the following apply to you...

-You make no effort to tailor your job application to the actual job - I read lots of applications today that didn't refer to people with mental health problems or to working in an inpatient wards but boy oh boy do you want to make a great contribution to the field of clinical psychology
-You spend multiple pages listing conferences you have been to and papers you have contributed to - so what if you've travelled the world giving presentations as a research assistant, I want a support worker
-You talk about your passion for research and enthuasiam for stats when the role requires no research and no stats
-You go on and on and on about various theories and models you have learned from your degree. I have no idea what you're on about half the time
-You take the person spec and copy it into the supporting statement saying you can do all those things but giving no examples of actually doing them
-You've been a support worker before and go on for a whole paragraph about urinanalysis - I know it's important and I know it's part of your role but really, a whole paragraph about wee?! I'm reading your form whilst eating lunch - that's just off putting!

If you want to get that first job, stop trying to impress me. I'm not impressed. All I want and all my team want is an enthusiastic, genuine and sensible person to fit in with the team, get on well with the patients and balance more traditional CSW work with a focus on more psychosocial interventions. That's all - I don't want someone to reform the entire field of mental health or who can understand multiple models of therapeutic intervention or analyse wee.

So what do I want ... do you like our patient group? Are you interested in them? Will you get on with the team? Will you fit in? Will you do what you're asked to do? Will you take feedback? Will you let a senior staff member know quickly if there are problems? Will you manage challenging behaviour appropriately? Show me you are human, nice and want to do a good job? Show me you are someone I might even want to go for lunch with. Then you will stand a chance.

Anyway... for the lucky few who get to face me on an interview panel very soon... brace yourselves... I get to help write the questions and I LOVE role play! :lol:

Ruthie
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by BlueCat » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:26 pm

Glad you unearthed this....I couldn't remember the thread!

I am currently involved in recruiting for an AP, outside of the NHS so application by CV and covering letter rather than through NHS jobs standard format. I can echo all the above and would like to add:

DO state on a CV how long you worked certain places, how many days, and whether paid or voluntary. Simply telling me the job title and duties doesn't give me enough information to shortlist from as I can't tell whether you were half a day a week voluntary for six weeks over the summer holidays whilst at Uni or whether you were full time paid for six years! I will therefore assume the former.

DO get yourself a professional sounding e-mail address. Whilst I might still shortlist "barbiegirl38DD@saucygirl.com" if said applicant has awesome experience, it doesn't give the best impression. Web-based e-mail is free and easy to set up.

DO give a working phone number. I probably don't have time to enter into postal correspondence, even if I really like you.

DO NOT simply copy and paste your NHSjobs supporting statement, without any changes, as your covering letter. At least TRY to make it sound like a letter.
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:01 am

I'm amazed how many times we end up stating the obvious on here, but it seems we can't say it enough: every application needs to be specific to showing why you are the perfect fit for that particular job. And be clear about your experience - when was it, how many hours, for how long, and what did you do? You should show you know the boundaries of your own competence rather than trying to dress up what you have done as more than it is. I'm also a fan of plain speaking and find overly complex language off-putting compared to clearly expressing the same thing in plain English.
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by astra » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:58 pm

I'm shortlisting for a course tomorrow - I might have some further thoughts to share on here after that. but having shared those thoughts several years running I do wonder if people really read them and take them on board. Why are we even having this conversation again now, surely it's been said so many times people aren't still making the same mistakes are they?? I guess I'll find out tomorrow.
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by blue86 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:11 pm

astra wrote:I'm shortlisting for a course tomorrow - I might have some further thoughts to share on here after that. but having shared those thoughts several years running I do wonder if people really read them and take them on board. Why are we even having this conversation again now, surely it's been said so many times people aren't still making the same mistakes are they?? I guess I'll find out tomorrow.
Astra please do! I know I always look forward to your insights. And your funny posts are also very enjoyable.
Regarding mistakes - not all applicants have access to such a wealth of information as we do on the forum; or they might take a while to realize how to put together a proper application. I know I had my fair share of mistakes. It took me a while to realize how important it was to make everything clear - as in stating voluntary/paid and how many hours.
(Edit: I forgot to mention; the Clearinghouse form really helps with this, because it makes applicants clearly spell out voluntary or paid; how many hours; and gives just enough space to be concise on what you did; I think that borrowing that format might help)

I tried to tailor my application but it took a while to get it right to start getting interviews and I still feel like I have a lot to work on. Maybe because I was from a different system but applications for psychology posts in the UK were assessed in a very different way that I was used to. It was all more shameful since I used to work in career counseling :(

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that your input is always appreciated. Even if repeated across threads, the posts remain online and future applicants can always go back and read and learn from it. I go back to past threads quite often and read more when I feel I need the information. So thank you for your continued patience and I'll be looking forward to reading the updates on this shortlisting season :)

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by enid » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:04 pm

My supervisor mentiomed some howlers earlier in terms of shortlisting for band 5 AP. People seem to have to do forms in such a rush, as they only stay on NHS jobs for a short period of time.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by philly » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:11 pm

I agree with Blue, I definitely think you should Astra - I'm very much looking forward to your next post on this topic!

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BlueCat
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by BlueCat » Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:37 pm

Having now interviewed an appointed for the AP post, a couple of do's don't for interview:

DO ensure you know what you are interviewing for!! A couple of people (who hadn't bothered to call or e-mail to ask anything about the role/population) answered my questions as if they were talking about a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT POPULATION!!!

DO have some questions for the end, it shows you've thought about the role and how you could fit into/work with it (see above)

DO have an actual reason for wanting the job you are interviewing for, aside from "I hate my current job" (that's a reason you want to leave your current post, not have this one), or "I want to be a clinical psychologist" (that's a career goal, not a reason why you want this particular job)

DO think things through. If you say you want do do research with this population, and I follow up by saying "What sort of things had you thought about?", it doesn't look too good to go "er............actually I hadn't really thought that much about it".
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

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blue86
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by blue86 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:22 pm

BlueCat wrote:Having now interviewed an appointed for the AP post, a couple of do's don't for interview:

DO ensure you know what you are interviewing for!! A couple of people (who hadn't bothered to call or e-mail to ask anything about the role/population) answered my questions as if they were talking about a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT POPULATION!!!

DO have some questions for the end, it shows you've thought about the role and how you could fit into/work with it (see above)

DO have an actual reason for wanting the job you are interviewing for, aside from "I hate my current job" (that's a reason you want to leave your current post, not have this one), or "I want to be a clinical psychologist" (that's a career goal, not a reason why you want this particular job)

DO think things through. If you say you want do do research with this population, and I follow up by saying "What sort of things had you thought about?", it doesn't look too good to go "er............actually I hadn't really thought that much about it".
Thank you for your input BlueCat. I have some questions if you would be so kind to take the time to answer them.
Would you be ok with shortlisted applicants emailing to learn more about the service and/or the population? I am usually very interested in learning more, but I do most of my research without contacting the service directly because it feels a little awkward - since I was already selected for the interview, I should have a good sense what I am getting myself into, I guess. But the thing is, I apply to multiple things at the same time, and then only a few come through. So yeah, is it usually ok to contact the service to ask more specific questions or is that seen as a no-no?

Also, I always have question prepared for the end, but it seems that often times they expect something else. I would ask things like -" I've heard your service offers this program, would a new employee be allowed to contribute?"
This has been met with blank stares several times. I like to be involved in the programs at my work, but maybe that was too soon and seemed a little eager? What kind of interviewee questions do you get that seem acceptable for a first time meet?

The part of thinking things through before interview is very helpful! I usually get very good feedback on that part because I take the time to think more in depth about what I would want to research, have a few literature references/theory, etc.
Great advice, thank you!

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BlueCat
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by BlueCat » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:17 pm

Hey blue86

Absolutely it is fine to contact the named contact with additional questions, but I would say do make them specific questions - not a general "can you tell me a bit more". It sounds like, having done your research, you would have some really pertinent things to ask. It is probably a skill, but try to ask things that will help you with interview, and save something to ask at the actual interview!

I don't really want to suggest questions to ask at the end, because that would be against forum guidance! However, yours seems good, and a general rule of thumb would be to ask questions that show you have thought about yourself in the role (yours sounds good, unless it was a programme that requires significant training, such as DBT, where that question might indicate a lack of knowledge about what si required in that programme/role).
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by blue86 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:19 am

BlueCat wrote:Hey blue86

Absolutely it is fine to contact the named contact with additional questions, but I would say do make them specific questions - not a general "can you tell me a bit more". It sounds like, having done your research, you would have some really pertinent things to ask. It is probably a skill, but try to ask things that will help you with interview, and save something to ask at the actual interview!

I don't really want to suggest questions to ask at the end, because that would be against forum guidance! However, yours seems good, and a general rule of thumb would be to ask questions that show you have thought about yourself in the role (yours sounds good, unless it was a programme that requires significant training, such as DBT, where that question might indicate a lack of knowledge about what si required in that programme/role).
Hi BlueCat,

Thank you for your answer. I do think I should be more confident and once I do my research and have specific questions I should email them and ask before interview. It is difficult to really know what can cross the line and what is ok.

I didn't mean to ask for specific questions, I guess I was just wondering what topics are more ok - such as involvement in the workplace, and what topics might seem too much or too eager.
But your advice is very good. One good thing about so much competition for psychology posts is that I personally don't get too many interviews at once, so it is easier to focus on one position at a time and do my due diligence. I'm sure this would be quite helpful for other applicants. Thanks again!

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:29 pm

With my qualified interviews I've always got a lot out of calling the named contact to ask more about the set up. I ask things like who is in the team, who receives the service (inclusion and exclusion criteria really vary), what the geographic catchment is, why the post is vacant, whether my interests fit with what the post involves, whether there is anything I can read. It's been invaluable.
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Will
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Will » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:45 pm

Gives you a chance to ask about some practicalities for the interview day too, parking/directions etc, which can make the day itself a bit less stressful.
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