Best Advice

Apologies for the late post about how my mentor and I (Baroness Patience Wheatcroft) are getting on, but I can assure you that things are going swimmingly. I couldn’t have hoped for a savvier mentor and her recent advice has helped enormously in developing a strategy for job-hunting success.

I hope to make both this and future blog posts as informative to you (the reader) as possible. I imagine you have no desire to read solely about how amazing my time with my mentor is and so I will try to impart some of the pearls of wisdom passed onto me by Patience by way of a thank you for reading about my exploits.

But first, a little bit about my career goals.

I have wanted a job in advertising for quite some time now and have managed to find experiences and opportunities whilst at University that have helped give me greater insight into this fantastic industry. Being selected onto the mentoring scheme was another such experience that I felt would help enormously in landing my ideal job. Patience has been a fantastic help so far in a number of ways.

Our first face-to-face meeting was at the House of Lords. “Not bad for an office,” she said as we made our way to the ‘Peers and Guests’ tearoom for our first lengthy discussion, not just about me, but also about how her career had developed. I explained that I was pretty set on a career in advertising and so we began to discuss this in greater detail.

I had brought along a whole host of graduate application responses in order to gain some feedback about how best to approach answering these. ‘Tell us something nobody knows,’ ‘Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?’ that kind of thing. Patience’s advise was incredibly useful and has helped me to refine the way I approach questions that require a bit more lateral thinking. Never simply pluck for the first idea that comes into your head (or at least not after considering other alternatives first). The difference between thinking of a predictably good answer and a great answer is enormous and could be the clincher in landing the interview. This kind of discussion was incredibly useful and has shaped the way I have tackled future application questions.

We then went on to discuss some common interview questions, which could be potential sticking points. One major subject was, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ This is the type of question that would probably fill most graduates with dread. We agreed that striking the balance between modesty and arrogance is a difficult thing and that the best solution to this type of question is to be consistent in your approach to it. What Patience thought was also important was that you show a willingness to learn and develop this weakness.

For example:

  • I’m a perfectionist – Indicates that spending huge amounts of time and expelling large amounts of energy on making something that is already very good perfect is not always necessary.
  • I can’t speak any foreign languages – Shows a weakness that many employers might find attractive in their employees, but indicates a desire to learn and improve oneself.

Patience recommended that I spend some time thinking quite carefully about this question in order to prepare a response that was not only consistently relevant to the jobs I was applying for, but also showed that willingness for improvement that many employers look for in their candidates.

Recent response has been through E-mail, but another meeting will hopefully occur next month (February). It’s an interesting topic and Patience has helped massively in my preparation for tricky interview questions like this.


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