Securing The Interview
Applying for a position is about quality, not quantity - Sending 100 copies of your CV to 100 nameless people, in 100 different companies, is not going to command very much attention. If you are unsure who the best person to address your letter to is, the best thing you can do is contact the company you are applying to and ask someone, this will ensure that your CV reaches the correct person and doesn't simply get lost in the system.
Gather as much information as you can on the role and ensure you tailor your CV to each position that you apply for, this will allow you to highlight all of your strengths and experience that are most relevant. Include a cover letter that highlights exactly why these strengths make you the perfect person for the job.
Your CV is a sales tool - Pick out only the most relevant skills and achievements and describe what you did in your previous jobs, together with examples of targets and results. Hold some details back for the interview stage, it will allow you to keep the conversation fluid, you don't want to seem as though you are simply reciting your CV.
When laying out your CV there are several things you can do to ensure it has the right impact.
Personal Details: Give as much information as you can with at least two different forms of contact information, ensure this information is right at the top of your CV. If you speak an additional language, put that information here.
Employment History: This is what a potential employer really wants to know, put it at the top of the CV so that it is the first thing they read.
Training and Education: Give information on your highest level of qualification plus any additional training you have undertaken that is relevant to the role.
The Layout: This is key, keep everything clear and simple. Do not use boxes, lots of colours, flashing lights or pictures, remember a clear and logically laid out CV suggests an organised, structured individual as well as making it easier to read.
Finally: Proof read and spell check the document thoroughly.
What Employers Expect You To Know
Employers expect every prospective candidate to do their duty or at least show due diligence. But what do they expect you to know exactly? Every employer expects a job applicant to have done some research into their company before a job interview, it shows you have a real interest in their business. The areas that this research should fall into are:
- What products and services does it sell?
- Who are its primary competitors?
- What current industry issues or events are of interest to the firm?
- What are the company's mission, vision and values?
It is vital to be on time for an interview. We suggest that you arrive at least 15 minutes early, allowing you time to relax and fill out any necessary paperwork, this will also allow for possible delays should you encounter them.
Plan a route to the company prior to setting off on your journey, if whilst you are travelling to the interview you encounter delays that may make you late, telephone the interviewer prior to your arrival, explaining your delay and expected arrival time.
REMEMBER: The first impression is a lasting one.
Follow these rules to ensure you leave the best possible impression, body language speaks volumes.
- Dress in a manner appropriate to the job role.
- Greet and close the employer with a handshake.
- Make frequent eye contact.
- Smile, be polite, and try to relax.
- Listen carefully to the questions asked. Ask the interviewer to restate a question if you are confused.
- Answer questions as directly as possible, try to highlight your research in the answers.
- Be upbeat and make positive statements.
- Use examples of how your skills and abilities would fit the job.
- Thank the interviewers for their time.
It is important you prepare for your interview by anticipating what questions the employer might ask. The following questions are examples of the types of questions that you may be asked to answer.
- Tell me about yourself. (This is often an ice-breaker question. Keep the answer job or skill related.)
- What do you know about the type of work we do? (This is your chance to tell what you know from the research you completed ahead of time.)
- What is your weakness? (Always make this a positive answer. For example, "My spelling is not always perfect, so I always use a spell checker.")
- What are your strengths? (Describe your skills in a way that will show you as a desirable employee for the company.)
- Why did you leave your last job? (Answer with a positive statement. "It was time to take on a new challenge.")
- Why have you been unemployed for such a long time? (Tell the truth. Emphasize that you were looking for a good company where you can settle and make a contribution.)
- Why should we hire you? (Make a positive statement, such as "I would like the opportunity to work with you and believe I would be a valuable asset.")
- Do you have references? (It is most important that you contact your references ahead of time and have their name, current address, and telephone numbers.)
At the end of the formal interview you will probably have the opportunity to ask any questions. The following are examples of acceptable questions to ask, others may arise from the research you conducted before the interview, or from the interview itself.
- Who would supervise me?
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
- What kind of training is provided or available?
- Is there a dress code?
- When are you going to make a hiring decision?
With time at a premium and fierce competition for jobs, more and more employers are using the telephone to screen candidates before a face-to-face interview. As well as reducing our carbon footprints, telephone interviews are a great way for you to find out more about the role and convince the employer that you're worth meeting in person.
So when the phone rings, will you be ready? Here are a few telephone tips:
- Get the basics right have a glass of water ready and ensure you have been to the restroom. Make sure you're somewhere quiet and you're not going to be interrupted. If you're on a mobile phone, choose a location with strong reception and low background noise ensuring you have enough battery life.
- Think about your tone of voice and make sure you sound enthusiastic and energetic. Be formal, polite and try not to waffle, you need to keep your interviewer interested.
- Have a copy of your CV handy, as well as the job description and your research notes. Write down thoughts as the interviewer speaks and keep track of any questions you might want to ask at the end of the call.