DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONICS INTERVIEW ADVICE Media Technology applicants please take by carlmartin


									                              DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONICS

                                   INTERVIEW ADVICE

(Media Technology applicants please take particular note of the requirement to bring a
portfolio as detailed overleaf)

Here in the Department of Electronics at York we interview all promising undergraduate
applicants who are based in the UK. We will ask you general questions regarding your
application to us, some technical questions, and for Media Technology programmes we also
ask students to bring along a portfolio of their work to discuss.

The main reason we interview while many others don't is the market. Fewer students are
applying for Engineering and the Physical Sciences even though these skills are in high
demand with employers. Some of our competitors have adapted to this by being more
generous with offers. We have taken a contrarian approach, though we do ensure we take
every applicant’s individual circumstances into account.

We ask our applicants to demonstrate their quality in interviews, make offers to those we
believe will add to the quality and ethos of our Department, then trust that the impression we
make on them on the ‘UCAS day’ is as good as the impression they have made on us. This
strategy has worked, but it does mean that for you, coming to an interview at York can be
more intimidating than just attending an Open Day elsewhere. This information is intended to
given some perspective from the other side of the table. Although focused on what we do
here, much of the advice should be applicable to other places that interview candidates.

Warm-up questions
As in most interviews, we start by asking gentle questions, but there's no reason to be
unprepared. You should be able to say why you've applied for University, for this particular
University, and for this particular course. Have you thought about a gap year or industry
sponsorship? The point of these questions is to see how carefully you have thought out the
options for the next few years of your life. We aren't looking for introspective soul-searching,
just the signs that you value your time and abilities and want to make something of them. We
also ask how things have been going at school and if there have been any disruptions to your
studies. We want to make sure we have that data if your exams don't turn out the way they
should. We ask you what grades you expect to get and, if your estimation is different from
that of the report that's on the UCAS form, we quiz you about that.

Technical questions (non Foundation Year applicants)
We normally ask one or two technical questions, to check out your mathematical skills in
particular. Typically, we might ask what you've been doing in maths, physics, or another
science subject recently, and then try to frame a question about that. The important thing to
remember is that we are not very interested in testing your memory, so the questions are much
more to do with how you think and explain. Here is a tip that probably applies to any
interview for any engineering programme: Almost every technical question is really a GCSE
algebra question in disguise. For example, if you tell me you have recently been studying
capacitors in physics, I might draw the diagram below, where the capacitors all have value C,
and ask what the total capacitance between A and B is:

                                    Of course, because you've just done the subject, I expect
                                    you to know the rules for series and parallel capacitors.
                                    But that's not why I'm asking the question. I want to
                                    make sure that you can give me an equation with the total
                                    capacitance as the subject, and that's just algebra. The
                                    point is, it should be algebra at your fingertips.
I also try to include a "pure" maths question. My favorite is to ask how you might go about
proving that sin2x + cos2x = 1. Some interviewees are able to do this without help, but usually
we need to talk about it. Try not to:

•   freeze
•   fill the air with words that have nothing to do with the problem
•   say "We have never done that so I don't know"
•   get intimidated by the lengthening silence
•   start showing it is true for particular values of x.


•   Focus your mind by thinking about the first or most elementary things you learned about
    the things in the question.
•   Think aloud about what you might do.
•   Draw a diagram

If you can show you're thinking, then we'll help you get to an answer.

Foundation Year candidates
For Foundation Year applicants the questions will very much depend on your background. In
most cases we will assume that you have little or no background in mathematics and science.
The “technical” questions in consequence will assume no such background. We will want to
establish whether you possess basic numeracy and have the right kind of mind-set to attempt a
science based course.

Media Technology/Electronic Engineering with Media Technology applicants only -
We would like you to bring with you a portfolio of your artistic or performance work. This is
for two reasons. We're interested to find out about your talents beyond science and
engineering. I have seen and heard some beautiful pieces of work. Other portfolios are less
arresting and more a record of craft and graft. Many of our applicants have done lighting or
sound in school plays, for example. That's fine - we have a lot of respect for craft and graft -
and the portfolio still tells us about your ability to organise thoughtfully and present clearly.
The second, and perhaps more important, reason for the portfolio is to hear your opinion of it.
We ask applicants to show off and talk about something they have achieved because we are
looking for people who are proud of their work but aware of how they can improve, eager to
talk about their enthusiasms, and willing to learn more.

Your Questions
Interviews always end with the opportunity for the interviewee to ask questions. You don't
have to ask anything -- there are no points for clever questions. But this is your best chance to
get a direct answer on anything about the University, the course, the place, so why not take it?

Don't forget
Be honest. Be yourself. Relax.

Professor John Robinson, Head of Department
Dr Stuart Porter, Undergraduate Admissions Tutor

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