If you don’t feel like a natural at interviewing or if you have been working for the same company for years and your interview skills are a little rusty, then the following article may be helpful. Below are several tips that our consultants share with jobseekers in order to help them secure their next great role.
One of the key chances to sell yourself and make a strong first impression is within your achievements section on your CV. We see many individuals missing a trick by only including a single sentence to describe their previous role. Make sure you highlight your key improvements, projects, deals or initiatives you have achieved. If you can include specific figures – it’s even better. Once they are on your CV, make sure you are prepared to share them at interview in greater detail.
We see individuals miss out on opportunities because they were not flexible when trying to secure a time for an interview. Usually an employer will be aiming to recruit within a specific timeframe. If an employer is willing to come into work early or meet in the evening, it is best to try and meet them half way and be as flexible as you can.
CV on hand
Recruitment timescales can often move quite quickly, even more so in smaller companies. So make sure you have an up-to-date CV to hand, ready to send to your recruitment consultant. Before you send the cv over, ensure that the layout is clear, your roles and achievements are included and you have asked someone else to check for any spelling or grammatical errors.
Date of birth
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age. If you are applying for a role in the UK, then there is no need to include your date of birth on your CV. However, if you live outside the UK, in the Middle East for example, then including your date of birth would be expected. Ask your recruiter what is expected in the country you are targeting if you are unsure.
When it comes to interviewing, you should convey your enthusiasm about both the company and the role. Remember that communication is more than just words. Despite any feelings of anxiety you may have, remember to smile and think about your vocal variety.
The reality is that you may not immediately be offered a role after your first interview. After every interview you attend, ask for honest feedback. It may be uncomfortable to hear but this is the only way you can improve your next interview performance. It is also helpful to give your feedback of your interview experience to your consultant, ideally within the first few hours after your interview, so your memories are fresh!
Have a goal in mind of what you want the interviewer to think and feel about you by the end of your interview. This will give your answers a lot more focus and will remind you to consider how you deliver your answers.
At Cobalt Recruitment, we believe in honesty. If you are going to find an employer that truly is a good match for you, then you need to be clear about what is important to you in your next role. Consultancy or client side? Standalone role or working within a team? What kind of environment would allow you to flourish? The end result will be far more rewarding.
If you have experience of using computer programs, such as Excel, Circle Investor, BIM, Candy or Cato, then make sure you include this within your CV. Sometimes this can stand you ahead of the competition.
Job boards are not the only answer
Although job boards are an excellent source to view potential roles, they are not a complete representation of all roles available on the market. Due to budget restraints, it may well be the case that you are not accessing all potential roles available via an agency on a job board, so it is worthwhile registering your details with an agency even if you don’t see a role advertised that is the perfect fit for you.
Keep it realistic
Be realistic about your qualifications and experience. You may think you can do a role but it is not wise to claim experience as one of your core skills. Being a member of a project team does not necessarily make you a Project Manager, for example. Work out your core strengths and focus on them.
Look the part
Those first few moments at the start of an interview matter more than you may think. Make sure that you make an effort to look smart and professional. Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and avoid giving your potential employer the wrong impression. Dirty shoes, chipped nail varnish, a poorly ironed shirt can all be avoided.
Job hunting takes perseverance and you may encounter some knock backs along the way. A lack of response from a job application doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad news. In reality, some roles receive over 100 applications so it takes time for a recruiter to shortlist and respond to these applications. Try to stay positive and keep motivated with your job search.
Name your CV
Distinguish your cv from the 100+ other applications the hiring manager receives each day. Use your name and the role title you are applying for. John_Smith_Property_Manager.doc).
If you prepare for your interviews, you will feel more relaxed and you will give a stronger performance. Make sure you have researched the company website beforehand so you are aware of any recent news stories and projects. Be ready with examples to demonstrate key competencies that are within the job specification and consider your answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Make sure you are armed with some key questions to ask at the end of your interview. It is good to prepare 5-6 questions, as you may well find that some have already been answered throughout the course of the interview. If you can include a few specific questions tailored to that company to demonstrate that you have done your research – that is a plus.
Reason for your move
One of the most commonly asked questions at interview will be ‘Why are you looking for a new role’? Make sure you have prepared a positive answer to this question. You may have disliked your boss in the past – but during an interview is not the time to share this. You may want to earn more money or work less hours but employers won’t be excited by this response!
It is sensible to be realistic about your salary expectations. If you are told from the outset what the salary for the role will be, don’t assume that you will be able to negotiate a higher salary should you be made an offer. This will only serve to antagonise the employer and there are plenty of people looking for new roles, so clients will often have eager backup candidates who would happily accept the role in your place.
Timing is everything
It may sound obvious but don’t be late! Plan your route in advance and you leave early enough to allow for any delays. Arriving late will never leave a good impression. Make sure you have made a note of your recruitment consultant’s number before you set off in case you do face any severe problems on route to your interview.
Make a chronological list of all the roles you have applied for. Include the name of the agency, contact information for the recruiter, a description of the job, the client (if the job is not confidential), the location of the role, the salary agreed to, the date you were submitted, and the date you were told you’d hear back. Make sure it is easily accessible, that way you will be able to stay on top of your job-hunting process and sound fully prepared whenever you receive a call from a recruitment consultant.
If you are successful enough to get to interview stage, you may find that an interviewer has done their research and has looked at your LinkedIn profile before they meet with you. Make sure your LinkedIn, Xing or other social media profiles are consistent with your CV and that they represent you well in a professional manner.
These days, employers will often use multiple agencies to try and find a new employee. If you are approached by several agencies about the same position, it is worth weighing up which is the better agency to represent you. Does one agency typically handle roles in your field or does it seem to be a “one-off” for the agency? Which agency spends longer talking to you and gives you more detail about the role? Consider which agency has given you a more positive experience.
X-marks the spot
Make sure you know the exact location of your role and whether there will be regular travel within the role. Explore the likely commute and assess whether it is going to be realistic for you and then you need to weigh up if any extra travel time is worth the career development opportunity.
Your last chance
Towards the end of the interview, you have the perfect opportunity to ask if they have any reservations. This will then allow you to overcome any concerns they may have and for you to show that you are keen and interested in progressing to the next stage. If the reservation is surrounding a particular skills gap, and you are not concerned, explain that you will quickly get up to speed and that you don’t foresee there being an issue.
The night before your interview, aim to get a solid night’s sleep so you are more equipped to be able to think on your feet if required.