When did you last really look at your CV? When did you last ask for some feedback on it? Imagine seeing it for the first time. Your CV is probably the only chance you will get to quickly attract a potential employer to you. You should view it as your own personal sales document, and treat it with the importance that it deserves. There are many ways of writing a CV, and no one correct way that fits all. If you follow the tips below, you will give yourself the best possible chance of being called for interview:
- Include the kind of information that matches the type and level of job that you plan to apply for in such a way that recruiters find you interesting as a candidate.
- Tailor your CV to the job for which you are applying – a generic CV will not relate to every job, can appear lazy and be easily passed over.
- Choose where to place your emphasis: it could be knowledge and education (recent graduate, for example) or it could be results you have achieved in previous roles – this depends on what stage you are at in life and for what type of role you are applying.
- Attract attention by prioritizing key information early on in your CV. This will ensure you do not look naïve enough to focus on trivia and leave the detail for recruiters to ask at your interview.
- Include enough evidence of what you have to offer to appear convincing and professional, without boring people to death or sounding like a job definition.
- Choose an attractive style, which means simplicity: avoid boxes, graphics or photos and get your fonts right (Tahoma and Verdana are the best).
- Proof-read it, then get at least one other person to proof read it and ask for their honest comments.
Top tips for your interviews
When you really want the job, the interviews process can be a trying experience. You may think you know it all and maybe you do – but there is always room for improvement. Here are some simple and effective tips to ensure you go into any interview feeling calm and confident. Following these tips could give you the edge over your competitors and save you a lot of time and stress.
You probably know the saying – ‘failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’. It’s always best to know what you are going into.
Therefore before the interview find out the key facts:
- Where will it be held?
- How long will it last?
- What format will it take?
- Will there be any tests or group exercises?
- Do I need to bring or prepare anything specific?
Make sure you confirm the date and time of your interview with your consultant. Work out how you will get to the venue and how long the journey takes, especially if you are using public transport. Check for any planned disruptions to road or public transport services and aim to arrive early, rather than rushing in late. This is especially important for assessment centers, where the day runs to a tight schedule.
Demonstrate your knowledge
Know everything you can about the job on offer including the job and person specification. Search the web for profiles of employees who hold the same or similar roles and be sure to grill your iSkills People consultant for as much information as they have.
Research your prospective employer organisation. Employers will expect that you will have at least researched their website. It will also help to show evidence that you know their industry and any issues currently facing it – searching for recent media articles to find out what is going on will impress your interviewers.
Making the right impression
First impressions really do count. If you get an interview you can assume that your potential employers already like what they have seen. The interview is an opportunity for you to build on that impression to secure the job. Here are some tips for making a good initial impression:
- arrive on time – ideally at least ten minutes early which will give you time to relax and collect your thoughts. If you are unexpectedly delayed, contact your prospective employer as soon as possible to explain the situation;
- when you arrive you will meet a receptionist or someone appointed to receive you. State, in a clear and friendly manner, your name, the time of your appointment and the name of the person you expect to meet;
- have all the relevant documentation ready to present if needed: your interview invitation and a copy of your CV and cover letter or application form;
- switch your mobile phone off before you enter the interview room.
- Once the interview commences you will continue to make a positive impression if you:
- listen carefully to each question and give concise answers supported with relevant examples; avoid saying just yes or no;
- ask for clarification if a question is not clear;
- speak clearly and loudly enough for the interviewer to hear and try to keep to a moderate pace;
The interviewer’s questions
Imagine that you are the interviewer. Think of every question you would ask to find out if a candidate was the best person for the job. Try to cover all aspects of the job and/or person specification that has been provided.
Most interviews will contain questions about your competencies, skills and achievements as well as your personality, interests and values. Interviewers will expect you to support your answers with evidence from your life to date. A useful strategy for providing that evidence and for answering competency-based questions concisely is to use the tried and tested STAR technique:
- Situation – briefly describe the where/when/who;
- Task – outline the task or objective (what you hoped to achieve).
- Action – describe what you did – focus on your role and your input.
- Result – what the outcome was and what skills you developed.
Develop a range of examples of numerous competencies, using the above format. Draw from all aspects of your life. Store them safely and update your examples as you go through your career.
Have a list of questions in mind to ask. You may feel that all your questions have been answered at some point during the interview but try to ask some, if only to show enthusiasm and interest.
These might include questions concerning progression opportunities, support for further study or any plans that the company has to expand. Avoid asking questions for the sake of it or asking very basic questions that you should already know the answer to.
After interviews and assessment centers it’s important for you to conduct your own critical review on how things went. You can really learn from the experience and build on it for the next occasion. Make notes on how you think you performed, asking yourself questions such as:
- Was I as prepared as I could have been?
- Did I demonstrate my interest, enthusiasm and a positive demeanor?
- Did I articulate my personal skills, strengths and abilities clearly?
- Was I able to relate my previous experience to the position for which I was being interviewed or assessed?
- Did I provide concrete examples of my skills and experience and did I avoid generalising?
- Was I able to show the interviewers how much I wanted the job?
- Did I demonstrate a good knowledge of the organisation and the position?
- Was I as well presented as I could have been?
- Did my body language or nervousness detract from my performance?
- Would more coaching and more work on practice tests improve my performance in the future?
To find out more about our specialist training and skills recruitment services contact one of our team on: 0207 220 3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org