The IStructE Professional Review Interviews (PRI) are coming up in November and December for most applicants in the UK, so if you're one of those preparing for an upcoming interview, here are some thoughts to help you get ready. (More tips here).
The interviewers for your PRI will read your final report forms, and they will be experienced and will probably have carried out many interviews before yours. So they will be very good at finding the areas of experience that you might be lacking – and their job is to ask you about these things, so that you can demonstrate to them that you have the level of experience required.
That means you should try your best to identify your weakest areas too, so that you can prepare a good answer if anyone picks you up on it. It can be quite tricky to realise where your weaknesses lie, because we're good at fooling ourselves, and just hoping the interviewers won't notice.
One thing you could do is find someone else who is also preparing for the interview – if you don't know anyone then post on our forum to hook up. You can then read each other's final report forms, and tell them where you think their weakest areas might be. This will give you some valuable feedback from an impartial person, and will also give you some good perspective on what other people have written in their final report forms.
If you're worried that your experience might be lacking in a certain area, then try reading up on the subject to become more knowledgeable. Then if you're asked about that subject, you can say; “yes, I haven't gained as much experience in that area from my day job, but instead I have been researching this subject in my spare time, in particular ‘xxxx' “. The ‘xxxx' could be as simple as some interesting information you have learnt from reading an article in The Structural Engineer. But by giving a specific example, you're demonstrating you've got some knowledge, and not just blagging it with general statements.
Finally, don't try to deceive the interviewers by pretending that you have experience where you don't, or by getting defensive! It's much better to acknowledge where your weaknesses lie, and tell them how you have addressed this, because integrity and professionalism are important components of being a Chartered Engineer.
And once you've sat the IStructE PRI, come and tell us how it went. We'd love to hear about it, and you can pass on your knowledge and experience to the next set of candidates. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.