2. Speed Interviews

This second blog in the Saltire series will be talking about my experiences during the application process and what to look out for if you are an applicant. If you’re not a Saltire applicant, most of this won’t be for you, but you may find some of the tips helpful for future interviews.

If you’ve already completed your competency questions, you may be wondering how long it takes for you to find out your fate. With my application, they gave a date in which they would email all applicants their result, and they used the full time to do so. Three to four weeks was the timeframe given and the email was finally sent to everyone on the very last day.

I remember vividly that this was over the Christmas break, and I was beginning to worry about internship applications, as usually the deadline is early the next year. I had already applied to many one-click applications through LinkedIn, written a few cover letters, and even took an online aptitude test - which I failed. Thanks, BAE Systems

I was continuously refreshing my emails leading up to the deadline, despite knowing full well I get notified for all emails, and finally discovered I made it through to the Speed Interviews stage. I have to say I was obviously happy, but this was just a written stage where I had all the time in the world to perfect answers to the questions. The next stage is two fifteen-minute, quick-fire interviews. Luckily, the interviews are scheduled around one month later, so there’s time to prepare.

How to prepare for Speed Interviews?

The interviews are carried out by a previous Saltire Scholar, now Alumni, and an someone within the Saltire company. Both interviews are of the same format: competency questions. So if you aren’t 100% on this format yet, you’d better get learning.

You may have heard of the STARR method to approaching competency interviews, and I’d say there is no better alternative for giving a thorough, complete answer to any question. STARR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Reflection. I’ll let the link expand on the details of this interview approach. I’d advise you stick with it.

Secondly, and this is probably the most important piece of advice, make sure you have many examples which can be applied to many questions. This means in order to be ready for any question you must think of your hobbies, team activities, work experiences, volunteering, individual and group university work, or anything else relatable. The reason this is so important is not because they want you to have done everything in the world, but because they may ask you a question which you have perfected an answer for, then their next question brings you to want to use your previous answer. Generally, one interviewer won’t ask similar questions, but the next may ask questions similar to the previous interviewer. This was something I found at my interviews, and I wasn’t sure whether to give different answers or not.

Third, when your interviews roll around, and you are really struggling to think of a situation that’s relevant, just make something up! You might think this is unethical advice but in reality the interviewers are not solely interested in your story. They’re looking to see how you analyse and reflect on situations. If you can think on your feet, say you believe a team sporting challenge might work as an answer, it’s perfectly acceptable to pretend you play that sport. If it’s believable, utilise the STARR method as usual and go for it.

Finally, the interviewer who works at Saltire is going to be looking for your interest in Saltire and your devotion to Scotland. They will begin their interview with expected questions such as why you applied, what you hope to gain from Saltire, and what you will give back to Saltire and Scotland. The last question there is pretty open-ended. They’re looking for to you understand that this internship isn’t a gift. It’s a way of allowing you to network with industry leaders, gain new understanding in business, and ultimately put that entrepreneurial mindset to use in Scotland, for Scotland, and to promote the Saltire Foundation further by being a great ambassador in the future.

Look out for my third blog where I’ll discuss what’s next when you make it into the Candidate Pool. Good luck in your interviews! It’ll be over before you know it.


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Written on June 3, 2018