For the past 4 years David Peake (1971-1976) has been the School’s volunteer Enterprise Adviser. Below he shares his job interview tips and updates us on his current role and how this helps CCS students. Here are his thoughts.
Tips for preparing for an interview, what do you suggest?
The art of a successful interview is being prepared and anticipating the interview environment. This includes your research on the company or organisation you wish to join, understanding the job and how you fit in with the organisation and the role. The more you know about the organisation and the job role, the easier it will be to answer the interview questions and the questions you ask the interviewer will be more relevant.
To make a good first impression dress appropriately and look clean and tidy in your appearance. Shake the interviewer’s hand in a firm and positive way (I appreciate that due to Covid 19 people are now wary about doing this so check with the interviewer if they are happy to do so). Maintain good eye contact with them throughout the interview and where appropriate smile naturally. Psychologists say that human beings decide during the first two minutes of meeting someone for the first time if they take to them or not, so those 120 seconds and the first impressions that you make do count and can make or break an important and possibly life changing interview.
During the interview always be yourself, try to relax, be honest and never lie on your application form, or during an interview and be polite and courteous. If you do not know the answer to a question during the interview do not try to wing it by making up an answer – you will be found out and that will not look very good. Always provide appropriate examples when answering questions.
When preparing for the interview read over the job/person specification and think of examples to use to demonstrate how you possess the necessary skills and use these examples to show how you have used them. For example, the job specification outlines that you will be working in a team you would give examples from your time at school/college/university where you have had to work in a team and how you went about this. Often at the end of interviews, interviewers say “Do you have any questions for us?” It is easy to feel anxious, so it is a good idea to prepare some suitable questions in advance.
Always leave a good impression at the end of the interview. If you are unsuccessful do not be too disheartened and do not take it personally. Many positions have a lot of applicants so there will always be competition. It is important to learn from each interview experience.
Can alumni connect with you via this platform to receive more advice?
Yes, I am very happy to connect with former students at whatever stage they are in their careers. Due to my wide-ranging portfolio careers I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.
Tell us about how you help current CCS students
Since 2004 I have worked on a voluntary basis with the ‘Gloucestershire Education Business Partnership’ and now with GFirst LEP (Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership), focussing on students in senior schools, including Chipping Campden School, by conducting practice interviews, facilitating at Young Enterprise and ‘Dragon’s Den’ days.
4 years ago I had the honour of being appointed as the school’s volunteer GFirst LEP Enterprise Adviser. This is a particularly special role for me because I am an old boy of the school. In this role I work closely with CCS senior leadership team, Deputy Head Jo King as Careers Leader and James Slattery as Business Co-ordinator and I offer my professional advice and help support the development of a whole school strategy for careers, enterprise and employer engagement.
I have wide-ranging business and portfolio careers experience and through my former role as Head of Commissioning Skills and Employment with Gloucestershire County Council. I have developed strong links with local business networks. I enjoy motivating students to achieve their full potential. I also provide the school with career talks, interview and CV writing skills advice.
During my time at CCS I enjoyed appearing in annual school play productions. I was Billy in ‘Billy Liar’ based on a novel by Keith Waterhouse, Prince Florizel in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and as Mr Hardcastle in Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’. Appearing on the school stage over the years as a young and rather shy teenager helped to improve my confidence and my public speaking skills and I recommend it to the students I mentor as a great extra curricula activity. It is also a very good example of participating in a team and employers are keen to see evidence of that when they interview candidates.
The annual Campden Business Awards evening is a highlight for me. I am always very impressed by the very high standard of entries from CCS students for the coveted prize of the ‘Business student of the year award’. Long may this continue and I must acknowledge the hard work and humour that James Slattery adds to the this event.
Any final thoughts?
I have such fond memories of attending CCS in the 1970s. My headmaster was Alan Jones, affectionately known as ALJ, and he was my mentor and careers adviser when I was head boy at the school. When I was in the VI Form I had 3 career aspirations – to become a BBC newsreader, to train to be a teacher, or to join the Police Service. I wanted a job where I could help people and make a real difference to society. Alan advised me that it was very competitive to become a BBC Newsreader and there were few opportunities. He said that he thought I would make a good teacher. However, his advice was that he knew that I had all the qualities required to become a first-class Police Officer and he said that society needed first class Police Officers. Alan also told me that his father had been a Police Officer and Alan had thought about joining the Police after university but he went into teaching instead. I followed Alan’s advice and I joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary and I have no regrets.
During my time in the Police Service I was awarded three university scholarships and I also obtained a teaching certificate and for 5 years I taught Police Officers Criminal Law, Criminology, Psychology, and Sociology. I have been a visiting lecturer at Police Academies throughout Europe, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India and I presented lectures on the British Criminal Justice and our unique Policing system. I am very grateful to Alan for his careers advice and guidance. He was instrumental in me choosing my first career as a police officer and it was a very interesting and rewarding career and it led onto my wide-ranging portfolio careers, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
During my 30 year police career I was a Detective in Child Protection, an Operational Police Commander in Gloucester City, Head of Traffic and Road Safety Management at Police HQ, and my final post was as Head of Community and Race Relations for 7 years at Police HQ. I was responsible for a £2 million budget, 55 staff and the strategy and policy of various high profile portfolios including Diversity/Race and Equality, Schools Liaison/ Police Talks Service, Crime Reduction, Media, PR and Marketing, Restorative Justice training, Family Liaison Officer training, Youth Offending Service (YOS) liaison, Domestic Violence, Special Constabulary Recruitment and Training. As Head of Media and Public Relations for the service I was the official police spokesperson and regularly appeared on local, national and international TV, radio and in the press and I handled a large number of high-profile media cases for the Constabulary. For 20 years I was one of 7 highly trained volunteer Hostage Negotiators in the Service and I dealt with a number of serious cases, all of which were resolved successfully and without anyone being harmed.
Interestingly as a result of joining the Police Service I fulfilled all 3 of my original career ambitions – I regularly appeared on TV and the radio when I was interviewed as a police spokesperson, I taught Police students for 5 years and in a senior school for 6 years when I taught on the GCSE Crime and Punishment and A Level Psychology courses, and I had a fascinating and very interesting police career. I hope that I have made and continue to make a real and positive difference to society and to people’s lives.
I wish all current and future CCS students all the very best for their futures, whatever they decide to do with their lives. I studied Latin at Chipping Campden school under the formidable Miss David and I always advise my mentees and students to follow the advice of the Latin phrase ‘carpe diem’ – ‘seize the day’ and make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.