I am a graduate of Nottingham Trent University and I studied BSc (Hons) Zoo Biology. Now, I am a full-time primate keeper and would like to pass on some advice to you all.
I was talking to my manager about the process of hiring a new employee including the job advertisement, shortlisting and interviewing. It was interesting to learn about some of the things that he looks out for as an employer.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be nervous.
Most employers will expect interviewees to be nervous and so this isn’t something to worry about and it certainly isn’t worth trying to cover up either. Employers will understand that your behaviour in an interview isn’t a true reflection of yourself and they often won’t let this affect their opinion of you. In fact, it is better to show that you’re a little nervous rather than coming across as overconfident.
Spend time learning about the company/organisation
Managers will be quite impressed to see that you’ve done your research and have a basic knowledge of the history of the company in which you hope to work for. This shows that you’re interested and willing to put in the effort to make a good impression. Things to read up on are obviously specific to each job role but zoo keeper’s will often like you to know what sort of animals they have, how long the place has been established for and mission statements- what are the goals and aims of the organisation?
Be prepared with examples of your experience and your strengths and weaknesses
A popular question employers ask is for examples of situations the candidate has been in where they have shown initiative or reasons why they feel they have some weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to talk about any weaknesses you may have, as recognising this is all employers need. The interviewer may create a scenario and ask you how you would react in that situation. A zookeeper- specific example of this (the very question I was asked in my interview) is; How would you respond to a member of public reporting an escaped animal.
Having a few different scenarios ready can help you feel prepared as they can be shaped and moulded to suit several questions.
Remember to ask questions in the interview
It is worth preparing some things to ask at the end of the interview when you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Anything between 1-3 questions usually does the job. These can be regarding the start date when you’ll find out whether you were successful or not, whether you’ll be required to have a trial day or not. These types of questions show that you are keen and excited about the role. Not having anything prepared to ask can look a little unprepared and uninterested.
Keep it short
Try to keep your covering letters and C.Vs short and concise. Some job roles will get 300+ people applying for them and managers who are already extremely busy with their current roles do not have the time to read these word for word. In all honesty, your C.V is often sorted into a pile of “potential candidates” before it even reaches the manager. Make sure you put your best selling points on the front and be careful with your wording. Utilise the employability services at Nottingham Trent, there are extremely helpful people who can sit down with you and ensure you have a short, punchy C.V.
By Katie Loveland (BSc Hons Zoo Biology 2017)- Primate Keeper at Howletts Wild Animal Park & Port Lympne Reserve
You can find out more about Katie by finding her on LinkedIn
Katie is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here.