12 Professional Review Interview Top Tips

If you are working towards Chartership the Professional Review Interview (PRI) is the final step in your application journey.

Read our top tips from Clare Rodgers, Fellow of CIWEM, a Chartered Water and Environment Manager (C.WEM), Chartered Scientist (CSci) and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv). She is a Professional Reviewer with CIWEM and a member of the CIWEM Tyne and Humber Branch.

Approaching the interview

1. Be aware that a CIWEM interview is not like a normal interview. You are not assessed against other people to see who is the best for the role. You are assessed against CIWEM’s standards (the mandatory competencies) and everybody who meets the bar for all relevant competencies gets the qualification.

2. Don’t panic. You got as far as the interview, and that’s a great achievement. It is normal to be nervous and interviewers are used to that. For online interviews, don’t worry if technical hiccups or interruptions crop up – it is rare but it happens, and we can deal with it. It won’t affect your application.

3. Practice talking about yourself. The interview panel do not care what your company or team did. They are there to assess you. Practice talking about things you worked on using ‘I’ and not ‘we’! This won’t come naturally to most people and practice really does make a big difference.

Career overview

4. Prepare a succinct career overview that tells the story of how you got from the start of your career to here, in five minutes or less. Focus on why you moved between roles over time and what you learned along the way.

5. You are the expert on your own life, and it can be tempting to go into a lot of detail here, but less is usually more. The panel can always ask to you expand on anything if they need you to.

Project presentation

6. Your project presentation should focus on you, not on the project. This takes a bit of getting your head around, because it is so different from a normal work presentation. Be clear about your specific role, how you fit in with the wider team, what you did and how the outcomes of the work were different because of your input. Again, remember that the interview panel are there to assess you, not your company or your team.

7. Focus on one project. It is much harder to tell a coherent story in enough detail in 10 minutes with two or three projects. Pick a project that you enjoyed, and start by explaining why you chose it and what competencies it demonstrates for you.

8. Follow good practice for slideshow presentations. Just because you’re allowed Powerpoint, don’t be tempted to dump everything you are going to say on there. Short bullet points and/or good quality images are better than lots of slides filled with detailed text. Keep it simple, clear and to the point – which is demonstrating how you meet the competencies for Chartership.

General Q&A

9. Be prepared to answer questions on any part of your written application. It’s all fair game, so re-read what you submitted and be ready to expand on the examples you gave, even if they were some time ago.

10. Know your weaknesses. You have to pass all of the mandatory competencies, so give some time to thinking about your weaker areas in advance, and what examples you can now give in support of those. Remember that if you are applying for additional registrations then that goes for the competencies for them as well.

11. Brush up on wider environmental issues outside of your field. Read the newspaper (read the CIWEM magazine!) and be prepared to have a considered opinion on a range of topics. This is not about being an expert in everything or saying the right thing that interviewers “want to hear” – it’s about showing that you are a competent professional who has thought about water/ environment topics beyond just those needed for your job.

And finally…

12. Once you’ve passed your interview, please don’t stop there. Consider helping others who are looking to go through the CIWEM application process – your recent experience will really help. You can do this through your own organisation, your local CIWEM branch and/or the CIWEM Mentoring Platform. In due course you might also like to consider becoming an interviewer yourself – it’s fun and rewarding, and we’re always looking for volunteers!

Want to learn more? Join us for our free webinar on 28th September to learn more about the Chartership assessment process, what to expect and how to prepare. Register now: Ask a Professional Review Interviewer

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