By Lauren Beattie, Professional Services Manager
In this ever more time-precious world, two pages remains the optimum length for a CV, however, if in order to sell yourself properly this needs to be more then so be it! Just ensure that all the information is relevant to you and to the role, include a mix of responsibilities but also achievements, after all, a future employer wants to know how you as an individual will add value to their organisation.
If your education is relevant to the role you are applying for then insert it before your career history, if not, then pop it in at the end. It is however worth noting that potential employers are still looking at education and the level to which you are educated, even if your degree is not relevant to the job.
Any gaps on your CV should be explained, not covered up. It makes recruiters and therefore potential employers think you have something to hide. Be honest!
Finally, a photo of you on your CV is completely unnecessary and may have the opposite effect. The employer is interested in what you can do, NOT how you look!
When does your interview start… When you sit down opposite the interviewer? When you are asked the first role related question? No, the interview begins the moment you enter the building and never forget this. So ensure you are polite to the receptionist and anyone else you encounter on your arrival (no one knows how much influence that person may have within the business).
Unless otherwise advised, formal business attire is still rated as important, along with, unsurprisingly, good hygiene. Ensure you have a firm handshake – it is well worth practicing this as many employers still see this as important when assessing candidates.
When in the interview itself, body language is hugely important. Do not cross your arms, slouch in your chair or chew gum. Laugh, smile, lean forwards when the interviewer is talking to you, look engaged and enthusiastic. Avoid sarcasm at all costs! And maybe most relevant this day in age, TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE!!
The Interview Style
Different interviewers will have different styles, this is something you just have to accept. You should have been given prior warning on what to expect and if you haven’t it is worth asking your recruitment consultant, HR Manager or whoever you are dealing with to set up the interview. However, even if you are told it will be an “informal interview” style, always prepare for it to be formal and then there are no nasty surprises. One person’s take on informal could be very different from another.
On the whole though, employers are looking for candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of the company and give answers relevant to the job they are interviewing for. Competency based interviewing is becoming more and more common as employers seek to draw out the areas in which a candidate excels.
Company culture and fit remain an important part of the process, so be prepared to talk about your interests outside of work, what motivates you and perhaps even what other people think of you.
The Interview Questions
Asking sensible questions when given the opportunity has more weighting than you might think. Be original, avoid the “where do you see the company in the next 5 years?” and lets have more of the “so mr/mrs employer, you joined Joe Bloggs 4 years ago after 10 years at John Smiths, what were your biggest challenges in the first 12 months in relation to the role itself but also the culture of the company?” This shows you have done your research on the interviewer and are already trying to imagine how you could fit into the business.
Unless asked, I would suggest avoiding the topic of salary and benefits in the first interview. This is something to be discussed at 2nd/final stage interview when we know the client has a genuine interest in us as a candidate. If you have been given a proper brief on the role then you should already have this piece of information anyway.
If the interviewer asks a probing or difficult question, don’t be afraid to take a minute or two to think through your answer. A response such as “oh that is a good question, can I have a minute to think of the best example?” should be met positively. Starting to answer a question without thinking it through can result in you losing the point and impact of your answer.
There is so much information readily available about organisations this day in age, use it! Research the company via their website: what they do, who its competitors are, its history. Have there been any news articles on them recently? A passing reference on something you found out could make all the difference to the interviewers impression of your enthusiasm for the job.
Prepare some examples on competency based questions you think may be asked. You are entitled to ask what competencies will be being assessed at interview and this can help in your preparation.
Plan your route to the interview, do a practice run if needs be. Just always allow time for traffic and time on arrival to compose yourself. And as mentioned before, turn off your mobile phone on arrival, employers are very unimpressed by pinging mobiles during an interview!
Have some small talk ready to break the ice while walking from reception to the interview room, friendly chit chat can really put you at ease.
During the Interview
Open with a firm handshake and wait to be asked to take a seat. Address your interviewer formally until invited to do otherwise.
Positive body language leaves a good impression, do not lean on the desk, slouch in your chair and try to avoid nervous actions like playing with your hair.
The three E’s are very important to remember; Eye contact, Energy and Enthusiasm. An employer is more likely to favour a candidate who has bags of energy and enthusiasm than a candidate who has all the accomplishments but who portrays zero enthusiasm for the role or organisation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, a question like “Do you have any concerns over my ability to do this job successfully?” can give a good indication of the interviewers thoughts and if you need to provide any further information to overcome any concerns.
Be positive and confident without exuding arrogance. Show a willingness to learn and accept new challenges and changes.
Inject humour where appropriate but never lapse into sarcasm. If you are unsure where the line is, stay away from any jokes.
Finally do not waffle and avoid the temptation to go on too long. The interviewer will become disengaged and you will lose the impact of what you are trying to say. Don’t be afraid of silence!
The Do’s and Do Not’s
Do take the opportunity to ask any questions / concerns you may have about the role or organisation. The interviewer should be selling the organisation to you!
Don’t criticise past employers, not matter how badly it ended!
Do admit where something went wrong and put emphasis on how you have learned from it for future.
Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question, take a deep breath and ask for a minute to prepare an answer. If you are still unsure if you have answered it correctly, ask the interviewer if that was what they were looking for. If it wasn’t they may give you a point in the right direction.
Finally, try to enjoy the interview, it doesn’t have to be as bad as people perceive it to be!
- Posted by: AD Group
- 28 June 2018
By Lauren Beattie, Professional Services Manager