Be a SWOT – research your prospective employer

Obviously it’s important to know something about a company before you apply for a job there, let alone go for an interview. Two representatives from FDM, an international IT consultancy, came to deliver a Skills for Success session on using SWOT analysis, a form of analysis commonly used in the business world to look at companies and see where they might be going.

SWOT stands for Strengths (what the company does well), Weaknesses (what it does badly), Opportunities (chances for market expansion), and Threats (business competition for example). If you manage to cover all these, you should have a fairly good knowledge of a company, as well as its competition, and recent advances in the field. All this should give you plenty to talk about in an interview. To give us some experience of this, they presenters put us into groups and gave us half an hour to research a company. We then took turns to give 5 minute presentations covering all the SWOT bases, and whether or not we would buy or sell shares in the company at the moment. This was good practice for similar tasks that could be set at the assessment centres for a variety of companies.

Some tips were given for presenting too. Before you make your presentation, think about your objectives, the audience you’re presenting to, and the format of your presentation (powerpoint, flip chart or just verbal). After you’ve designed and prepared your presentation, always remember to rehearse it. Not only will this help you iron out any kinks, it’ll really help you with nerves if you know what you’re doing. This doesn’t just apply to assessment centres, but many different situations; being able to come up with a comprehensive presentation under pressure is an impressive skill to have, and SWOT gives a good framework for this.

Ed (Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Science)

For further help with applications and preparing for interviews, see the 'CVs, Applications and Interviews' section of the Careers Service website.
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