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Location: Birmingham
Date: September 15, 2021
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Meet Nikola who accessed our virtual service of a dressing session and telephone interview coaching during lockdown in spring 2021. At the time Nikola was a final year student at Aston University, which is one of our referral partners. She was applying for graduate jobs and was in need of support for her forthcoming interviews.

In her words she was “afraid” to have an interview and had already a number of interviews that hadn’t gone well. These experiences had dented her confidence and so she was referred to Smart Works to help her.

Nikola was invited for interviews with two companies and got through to the next stage for both. After accessing our service she was then offered a graduate role for a pharmaceutical company and started her new job in June.

She remembers making an instant connection with her coach because of the professional knowledge and expertise she had in the sector that Nikola was looking to work in. Nikola and her coach worked through the Smart Works Interview Guide and focused on practising some of the more common questions she was worried about that she thought were likely to come up. She was given advice to carefully study the content in her CV and aim to remember it off by heart. Knowing her CV would enable her to pinpoint specific examples of her successes and achievements that she could use in her interview. She was given feedback by her coach on how she came across, how clear her answers were and what she might say to make her answers even better. Nikola took notes to ensure she captured the advice as she went along. She remembers her confidence building after each practice question. “During the session with my coach I realised how unprepared I had been before and how important it was to rehearse. There’s something about saying it out loud and getting instant feedback that helps you get better at interviews.”

Nikola had a separate styling session with Smart Works to provide her with an outfit suitable for her job interview. Again the session was conducted remotely due to the pandemic, so she had a telephone call with a stylist to establish the type of outfit she was looking for, talking through style preferences, size, colours, shapes, fit etc. As a student Nikola didn’t have anything suitable to wear to an interview. “When you’re a student you’re always in casual clothes so it’s difficult to know what to wear for an interview.”

Looking back at her experience with Smart Works Nikola says, “There’s absolutely no doubt that Smart Works helped me get this job. I felt the part and looked the part. Because of the coaching I realised where I’d gone wrong with my interviews before and I was determined I wouldn’t be caught off guard again. When you’re a student at university it’s such a big leap to get into the world of work. It’s all new to us so we need all the help and advice we can get. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me at Smart Works. They were all lovely and I know that without that support I would have struggled.”

Nikola is pictured here at her graduation ceremony with our centre manager Ann, who also works at the university when she isn’t at Smart Works.

We wish Nikola all the best in her new role! If you’re unemployed and looking to access our service, please ask your job coach or organisation supporting you to find work to contact us.