An interviewer has just one objective: to decide whether or not to make you a job offer. While the interviewer will examine your work history and educational background, your strengths and accomplishments are very important. He or she is also interested in evaluating your level of motivation, values, attitude and personality. In other words, to find out if you’re the right person for the job, what your potential is for promotion and whether or not you will fit into the company environment.
While it’s true that an interview is an important screening tool for companies, it also allows you to learn the things you need to know about the position and the company so that you can make an intelligent decision about the job. Always approach an interview focused on your objective: getting a job offer.
Preparing for the Interview
As with many situations, preparation is the key to success. The job market is very competitive and you probably will not be the only qualified candidate going for the position. The deciding factor may simply be the way you present your relevant skills and qualifications and how you conduct yourself during the interview.
Can you visualize resigning from your current position?
What are your goals?
Research the Company
Use a library to review annual reports, trade magazines and newspaper articles.
The Internet offers a wealth of company information and industry statistics.
Know the company’s products and services.
Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their company is attractive to you.
Items to take to the Interview
Use three former supervisors who are familiar with your work.
Include their name and company as well as home and work phone numbers.
Always consult with your references for their approval and to ensure that their remarks will be positive.
Review your CV thoroughly and be prepared to discuss all points.
Always bring a CV copy identical to the one supplied to the interviewer.
Bring along samples of your work if possible. Never discuss or show proprietary information.
A folder and pen to jot down notes.
Directions to the interview location as well as the interviewer’s phone number in case you’re running late.
Your recruiter or agency’s phone number to give immediate feedback after the interview.
Skills, experience and attitude will land you a job, but your interview attire is more important than you think. It’s an opportunity to make a good first impression with a potential employer.
Dress appropriately. The safest option is to wear a clean, smart, neutral coloured suit. Let your talent and personality get you noticed, not your clothes. Save the bright colors, wild prints and trendy fashions for another occasion.
Check your appearance before heading into an interview. Ensure your tie is straight, your teeth are clean and your hair is groomed.
Arrival at the Interview
Arrive no later than 10 minutes prior to the interview. This will allow you time to compose yourself.
Allow adequate time for traffic, parking, and a last minute appearance check. If possible, scout out the location the day before the interview to avoid last minute problems.
Review your notes and go in with confidence.
If asked to fill in an application form complete it in full and leave no blanks. Do not write “See C.V.” as a response to any question. Respond to “expected salary” questions as “open” and “current salary” questions truthfully. List references if requested. Your recruiter’s name should be your response to any “referred by” questions.
Shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact with the interviewer
Maintain a high energy level. Sit up with back straight. No coffee (to spill) and no smoking.
Conduct yourself with confidence and determination to get the job. You have other options, of course, and your interviewer knows this, but wants to think that you want a job with this company
Don’t play coy. Sell yourself. This is your first meeting and the position, as well as future promotions, may depend on your presentation. Are you going to sell them on the idea of hiring you, or will they sell you on the idea that this job is not for you?
You MUST present a positive attitude to the prospective employer.
You MUST NOT seem disinterested or appear to be job shopping.
The interview should be a two-way conversation.
Personnel will usually provide company information and available benefits. Questions concerning benefits should be addressed after the interview. Remember that the interview is to see how you can contribute to the company.
Give brief, relaxed answers to questions. When possible use the questions as a basis for giving information that you want to make sure is presented, but don’t deviate too much.
Describe jobs in terms of duties and give indicators of good performance such as raises, sales volume and promotions.
Include incidents involving problems or challenges and how you were able to solve or overcome them. Describe the results you achieved.
Your CV is an important selling tool. The most important attribute of a successful CV is that it clearly explains to the reader what it is that you can do for them. Its purpose is not to get you the job. Its purpose is to get you an interview, and then to remind the person you met with about you. Most recruiters will spend only about 30 seconds looking at a CV. The points below explain how to make your CV have IMPACT.
Principles and Guidelines:
Recruiting is a buying decision on the part of an employer. In order to sell yourself your CV must:
To decide what to include in your CV, follow these guidelines:
Presenting your CV
When you submit a CV to a recruiter or a potential employer, it is likely to be the first thing they get to see or read of yours. Therefore, you need to present your CV well. In order to single you out as the most appropriate applicant it needs to tell a clear story. It should accurately detail your abilities and your potentials. Your CV and covering letter will show that you handle information well by the way they really “speak” to a reader from the word go.
Good CVs tell it quickly, they tell it clearly and they arouse curiosity and admiration.
Your Contact Details
Start with your current or most recent job first so that the strongest and most recent aspects get far more attention than the early stages.
Training and Development
The events you list under this heading should add value to your CV. Management development, computer skills courses or specialised training in your field could be listed.
Don’t list events like ‘Half-day course on the Fire Drill Procedures of XYZ House’.
Lay it out in reverse chronological order.
Education and Qualifications
This section should include all professional memberships as well as your general academic attainments. Employers like to see a good standard of general education. If you’re currently studying for an additional qualification, this should also be included (at the top of the list). Lay it out in reverse chronological order
You rarely need to explain trivial details of your early education or training except in passing.
It is quite sufficient to say “Passes in 3 subjects at ‘A’ level and 9 at ‘GCSE’ (or ‘O’) level.
This is often the most contentious part of the CV. How much should you reveal? In the end, it’s down to you. If you have been honest about the dates of your education and employment, most intelligent people will be able to work out your age to within about 2 years. So you might as well show your date of birth (not age). Other things that candidates sometimes add include:
Whatever you include, keep it short and keep it relevant. For example, if the position required you to be mobile, then it would be helpful to tell the employer you have a full driver’s license.
Only include hobbies if they enhance your image.
You must contact potential referees to obtain their agreement to act as referees before starting your job search. However it is not necessary to reveal their identities on the CV. Some employers will request such information prior to an interview, in which case you provide the names and contact details in your covering letter. Other employers will wait until they have met you.
What to remember when writing your CV
Always send a covering letter with your CV. This is the place to express your vision and will show that you have thought about and are interested in the position. Your letter needs to sing, summaries, promise, capture the spirit of what’s best about you. Safe, boring, lengthy letters that repeat all the information in your CV or try to match every single minor point in the job definition will not interest the reader.
Use the sales formula of AIDA in your letter writing:
A – Attention: Read my letter.
I – Interest: I have skills / experience that you can use.
D – Desire: It would be good to meet me to discuss my skills.
A – Action: There is a route to access me – I will phone you, or you can contact me.
Tips for Covering Letters