How to nail the SEP Interview!
So, you’ve been working hard on your Student Enterprise Programme business, coming up with a great idea, forming your team, running your business, managing your marketing, sales and doing your accounts – you’ve even worked on submitting a great business report within the deadline, and now you have an interview at either School, County or National Final to prepare for!
Here at studententerprise.ie we want to give you some advice from our years of experience in running the programme about how to ensure you present yourselves and your business in the best possible way!
So, let’s start with the basics:
- Know your business report inside out!
You recently completed your Business Report. Think of it as your textbook on a subject for an exam – except it’s even better than that, because you wrote it! So, you’re going to be answering some questions on a piece of work that you’ve written – that’s certainly not how exams work and makes a pleasant change, right? It is vital that all team members know the report material very well. Obviously, certain team members are in charge of certain tasks in the business, and may have written ‘their’ section of the report, but generally, it is important that all team members have a good knowledge of the whole report.
- Know your numbers
You’ll know generally how your business developed from an idea, to the production side of the business and how sales were made, but it’s important to have certain numbers at your fingertips for the interview. For instance, if you’re producing a product, it’s very likely the judges will ask you:
- How many units (products) did you sell?’
- What was your cost of production?
- What was your sales price?
- What was your total turnover? (the amount of money earned from sales)
- If, and how much, you invested in the business?
- If, and how much LEO or school funding you received?
- What was your net profit?
Remember, the judges aren’t trying to ‘catch you out’ with these questions – they will have read your report, but want to see if you’re up to speed on how the business is performing!
- Have an up-to-the-minute update ready
Remember, the judges love to see that you’re continually working on the business, and a good tip here is if you have made progress since you submitted the business report (maybe you’ve really increased sales, or got some new orders), summarise this progress in bullet point form on an A4 sheet and present same to them-they’ll be impressed that you perhaps see potential for the business beyond the end of the current SEP cycle!
- Make it a team event
All members of the team need to be involved in the interview. Teamwork is vital for business success, and judges like to see all members contributing to the interview, as it shows that the success of the business is a genuine team effort! It would be good practice for the Managing Director (MD) to introduce himself/herself to the judges and introduce the other team members and their respective positions within the business. When a question is asked on marketing, it should be answered by the Marketing Manager, a finance question should be asked by the Financial Manager, etc. In this way, everybody gets to contribute and that creates a positive impression on the judges.
- Presentation is paramount
How you present your business is also very important. You’ll have received advice on how to prepare your display stand, but some basic presentation skills are key – for instance, do you have a business uniform, like branded workwear, fleeces, etc.? If so, make sure all team members are wearing it. If you’re in you school uniform, ensure all team members have name badges to make it easier for the judges to know who is who.
- Practice makes perfect!
Finally, remember the old saying…’practice makes perfect’! Try to develop a list of questions the judges may ask, and write them down. For instance, they may ask how you came up with your idea, what you did next, how did you decide on the sales price of your product service, financial questions like we outlined earlier, and maybe conclude with what you learned about business by taking part in the SEP. Write down answers to these potential questions and conduct short ‘practice interviews’ with your team – don’t worry about trying to learn off the answers, rather try to ensure you have an understanding of what’s being asked and how your team actually performed in that area, and what you learned.
Finally, remember to relax – you’re being interviewed by judges who’ve read your business report and are genuinely interested to see how participating in the Student Enterprise Programme has helped you to learn about business. Be honest, enthusiastic and share your passion for enterprise and you can’t go wrong!