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What counts as ‘conflicting priorities’ and how do I answer that question?

Often, in applications and at interview you get asked this question – ‘How have you dealt with conflicting priorities?’ or a variation of this question. But what does the employer want to hear?

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The question is designed to test your organisational and prioritising abilities – how do you problem solve or deal with demanding deadlines? The employer seeks for you to demonstrate strategic thinking and your ability to understand business objectives, in relation to your own, which should inform how you organise yourself.

Before you can answer this question – think of an example. An easy one is you’re working part time whilst studying. Your manager asks you to come in and do extra work but you also have an important upcoming assessment deadline. You want to facilitate a positive relationships with your manager but simultaneously your degree is extremely  important too.How do you deal with such conflicting priorities?

The answer will of course be your own. You could walk the employer through your thinking and logic when making decisions. It could be that you explain that education is important but your work ethic means a lot to you so you come in to do the extra hours but you then time manage effectively and spend time in the library to complete your assessment to a high standard. I sadly can’t answer the question for you – you’d have to think of an example for yourself.

The key in answering this question is explaining effectively your thinking process behind your actions. For example, some people refer to The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, as below

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Overall, there is no right or wrong answer. All the employer wants to hear from you is a clear explanation of how you deal with pressure/a deadline. As a student, there will be countless examples of conflicting deadlines you’ve faced. Always make sure you walk them through your rationale and thinking of dealing with such situations. The end result for them is to be satisfied that you will be able to withstand pressure and it’s something you’ve dealt with before. The employer wants to be confident that you can work independently and self-manage – so simply assure them of it, using excellent communication skills (whether in an interview or an application) and an appropriate example.

Finally, always talk about the result. So if we come back to my work vs university example – a good way to finish that answer is ‘I achieved a good grade for that assignment, whilst submitting it on time. I also did 6 hours extra work that weekend and my manager was very pleased with the service I delivered’. You therefore demonstrate that your excellent strategic logical thinking lead to a positive outcome. How can an employer resist such a high calibre candidate?

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Kristina Tamane is the Careers Adviser for the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the Joint Honours Programme. You’re welcome to follow her on Twitter or Pinterest for varied job posts and general advice and updates.

8 Steps to Starting up a Social Enterprise

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Starting any business can be more than a little daunting and adding a social element to the start-up process might make you feel like you have a huge mountain to climb, but broken down into smaller parts you may well find that it’s not quite the uphill struggle you thought it would be.

1. What’s the idea?

It’s likely that your social enterprise idea is driven by a want to help others, a wish to contribute to the community around you or perhaps a strong environmental focus. Whatever the idea, it’s likely your passion, drive and determination will get you a long way.

2. Where to start?

As with any business start-up you should go about your competitor research and exploration of the market in the same way. Consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, understand who your competitors are. Have a clear idea in your head as to why your product or service is unique and how it meets the needs of your potential customers.

3. Problem solving

You don’t need to be attempting to solve the world’s problems, just the one will suffice. Whatever the problem, whether it’s a social, environmental or community related issue be clear that you can tackle it in a way that’s relatively unique to your organisation.

4. What’s out there already?

If you find a social enterprise that mirrors your own, then have a good think about what you will be achieving by throwing your organisation into the mix.

5. Support close to home

Who can support you on your journey and what does their support look like? Find the right people to help drive your social enterprise forward. Contacting your favourite celebrity via social media isn’t necessarily going to bear fruit, but looking to those around you, close friends, family, colleagues is a good place to start. If you can inspire them to get behind your organisation you may feel more empowered to keep moving forward.

6. Accessing funds

Now to the tricky part; seeking funding can be a scary prospect but don’t despair there are a whole host of finance options available to you. All funding options have their pros and cons so make sure you do your research! Social Enterprise UK have a long list of organisations that may be of use to you.

7. Legal structures

Of course you will need to consider what legal structure your organisation is going to take, so go to GOV.UK to find out more.

8. Now what?

And when you’re ready, you can start to formulate that all important business plan. Templates are available from the Careers, Employment and Enterprise team and if you get stuck then book in an appointment with one of our Enterprise Advisors or look out for our next Business Planning workshop on campus, both bookable on CareerHub.

Our Blog in Review – 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Happy Holidays to all our Readers!

I just wanted to take a moment (before bolting out of the office) to say thank you to all our readers over the past year. This blog has really taken off, with record numbers of views and followers, and hopefully that means we’re doing things right for you!

Happy Holidays to you all and we look forward to bringing you more interesting content and engaging articles, from Employers, the Careers and Placements Team, and our Student Writers, in 2014.

Best Wishes,

Jerome

 

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The Careers and Placements Service is closed over the holiday period and will reopen again on 2nd January 2014. You are welcome to continue to use our digital resources such as CareerHub, StudyNet, and this blog, however we will only respond to communications (questions/emails) when we re-open in the new year.

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Are you 2010 University of Hertfordshire Graduate?

Are you having trouble finding a job?

Graduate Futures is here to help!

We will be holding a week of activities to help support recent graduates into finding employment.

You can access support with your CV, Applications, Interview Skills and find out about sources of vacancies.

Monday 20th – Friday 24th September

The Maclaurin Building (Opposite De Havilland)

http://www.herts.ac.uk/more/graduate-futures/contact-us.cfm

You can drop in for support at any time from the following hours

Monday 2-4pm

Tuesday 10-12pm

Wednesday 10-12pm

Thursday 11-12pm

Friday 1-3pm

No need to book for a drop in session – just turn up! Come along and have your career questions answered – you can bring along your CV and gain feedback from a Careers Consultant. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the session is due to end and be aware that the session is on a first come, first served basis. 

If you find that you cannot access any of these sessions please contact us using the details below as we may be able to support you through telephone appointments or through support at another time.

Tel: 01707 284791

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