So Alex, is there anything you would like to ask us?”, me: “Err, no that all sounds good to me”.  That was the moment where things could have gone horribly wrong for my prospects of landing the Communications Intern job at Thomas Pocklington Trust.

OK, let me start at the beginning – my name is Alex Henderson, I was born with an eye condition called Cone Dystrophy, and as a result, I am partially sighted, and a white cane user.

In the summer of 2019 I applied for an internship role within the Communications team at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT). I was at a point in my life where I honestly wasn’t sure where I was heading in terms of my career. It felt like I had been drifting for some time.

The Wave

Then one day, out of the blue, a message from the employment team entitled ‘New Vacancy - Communications Internship Thomas Pocklington Trust’ arrived in my email inbox. It outlined an exciting job opportunity offered by TPT. I remember this moment so well, because I had such a positive feeling about it, like a surfer who had been waiting for the right wave to come along. This was my wave!

I checked over the job description a few times, just to make sure I knew what I was letting myself in for. The more I read it, the more I knew I had to go for it. I was confident that I had the skills to be good at the job, but was worried that I had no prior experience of working in Communications. On deadline day I submitted my application.

A few days later I received confirmation that my application had been successful and was invited for an interview. I think it was at that point that it started to feel very real, and the nerves kicked-in…

 

The Interview

Before the date of the interview I had committed to a week’s volunteering at an event by VICTA where I had the great fortune to meet VICTA’s CEO, Nick Schofield. When I told him about my upcoming interview, he spent a couple of hours giving me some brilliant advice about CV writing, job searching, and most importantly of all - interviews! This definitely felt like another wave that had arrived in timely fashion to help me on my way.

The two big things that I learnt from my talk with Nick were: 1) Preparing for the interview is essential, and 2) the answers you give to the interview questions don’t necessarily have to relate to work, they can come from your experiences outside of employment.

Armed with my new job interview insights I researched competency questions, and thought about both work and personal experiences I could draw upon to give the best answers possible.

Well, when the big day arrived, I felt nervous, but also confident. One of the things I’ve learnt over the past couple of years is that feeling nervous is life’s way of telling you that something really cool is around the corner, and that you just have to keep pushing forward to reach it.

The interview process began with a 45 minute written assessment. For this I used a PC setup with ZoomText magnification software. I found this really challenging. I was so used to working with the setup and conditions I had at home, plus the pressure of working towards a short deadline, with the minutes ticking away, added a bit of extra pressure.

Following the assessment the interview began. It was at this point I was massively thankful to have done my prep work. My main focus was to ensure I stayed present and listened properly to the questions, then took my time to give succinct answers that demonstrated my abilities and told a story. The interview came to a close but the final question was the only one that I had not prepared for…

“So Alex, is there anything you would like to ask us?”, my mind went blank, for once I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, except for “Err, no that all sounds good to me”.

OK, I know at this point you’re probably thinking I’m the biggest idiot in the known universe. But in my defence, I was just glad to have made it through the interview plus I was genuinely happy about the job role and excited about working at TPT. So I really didn’t have any questions. But I still should have asked them something!

I replayed the interview in my head on my way home feeling I had done well, but not sure if I had done enough to get the job.

The Call

A few days later, on a warm Monday afternoon I received the call. When my phone announced the name of the person calling, a sudden wave of nerves mingled with excitement hit me. I answered the call…I got the job!

Now I am now into my fourth month as Communications Intern at Thomas Pocklington Trust. It’s hard to believe how much has happened in that time, how much I have learnt, how much I have grown, and how much fun I’ve had. I even spent an entire day at the office with soaking wet socks on, but that’s a story for another day. There have been plenty of times I questioned whether I was up to the task, while other times I felt proud of how well I was doing.

Who knows where this wave will take me!

Always ask a question

So, here we are at the end of the story, but we’re also back at the beginning. I found out a few weeks into my internship that I came very close to not getting the job at all.

 

Why? Because I didn’t ask a question at the end of the interview. 

So, my parting advice to you would be: Always, always, always, always ask at least one question at the end of a job interview. It could make all the difference!