CV and Interview Tips

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CV Tips

You must not underestimate the importance of your CV (Curriculum Vitae). It is very often the only thing that a prospective employer will see before deciding whether you can be of benefit to the company and whether he/she is interested enough in you to conduct an interview.  No matter how well suited you are, you are not going to get a job if you cannot get an interview.

You need to bear in mind that you are a documentation specialist and what you produce will be seen as an example of your work. Also, a prospective employer may be sifting through numerous CVs and only looking to interview a couple of candidates so time spent here is well worth the effort.

Writing an effective CV:

  • Firstly, take the time to tailor your CV to the role for which you are applying.
  • Try to keep to a three page maximum. To help with this, only detail relevant experience and just use headlines to show the date continuity on other roles.
  • If you have achievements and awards make sure to mention them.
  • Make sure that it is easy to read when printed in black and white. Fancy fonts and coloured designs may not help.
  • Keep to the truth.
  • No grammar or spelling mistakes allowed.

A suggested structure:

Name and contact details
Don’t waste space writing Curriculum Vitae at the top of the page or use a lot of space giving extensive contact details.  Employers know it is a CV and a recruitment agency will only remove that detail anyway.

Personal Profile
Give a summary that will grab the attention of the employer aiming yourself at their specific requirement.

Skills
Have a skills section listing all your areas of expertise (personal and technical). From a technical perspective, a matrix with an assessment rating or listing the number of years active use is a great idea. Bear in mind that recruitment agencies will pull shortlists via “buzz words” and if you don’t have them listed you will not be contacted.

Work History
Present your work history in reverse chronological order, with your current employer first, highlighting your main achievements in each role.

Education
Your most significant and relevant ones are the most important. Only mention grades if they are good ones.

Hobbies and Interests
Some may think that this is not important but if you have the same hobbies as your prospective manager it could grab their attention. Also, any related achievements should be listed as they can help demonstrate your winning mentality or dedication to the pursuit of excellence in all walks of life.

References
"References Available Upon Request" or include contact details of 2 referees who can be approached.

Interview Tips

In the same way that it is important to prepare your CV correctly, it is also important to prepare yourself for interview, particularly if you have not been to one recently. The interview is obviously an opportunity for the company to assess your skills and experience in line with their requirements but is also an opportunity for you to investigate whether this is the right opportunity for you.

Preparation:

  • Try and find out as much about the company as possible. Try and understand the company’s business, market, products and unique selling points. Attempt to find out about the organisation's products, locations, clients, philosophy, goals, previous growth record and growth plans and how they value employees and customers, etc.
  • Make sure you fully understand the role.
  • Consider the types of questions you are going to be asked and practice the answers that are going to present you in the best possible way. Some examples of typical questions are:
    • What are your short-range and long range goals and objectives?
    • What are your strengths, weaknesses and interests?
    • Why did you choose or why do you want to be a JOB TITLE?
    • How do you think a friend/colleague would describe you?
    • Describe a situation in which you had to work with a difficult person (another student, co-worker, customer, supervisor, etc.). How did you handle the situation? Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?
    • Was there an occasion when you disagreed with a supervisor's decision or company policy? Describe how you handled the situation.
    • What motivates you?
    • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organisation?
    • Describe your greatest career/personal achievements.
    • How do you work under pressure?
    • How would you handle conflict? Give an example.
  • Take a copy of your CV with you and make sure that you are familiar with its content as a lot of questions may revolve around it.
  • Take relevant samples with you.
  • Take a note pad and pen with any prepared questions that you want to ask. During the interview note down salient points or questions that you can return to later. However, don’t spend large amounts of time writing.
  • Wear smart business attire.
  • Make sure you know where you are going and arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
  • Be pleasant and polite to everyone you meet and ask for the person who is to interview you by their name.

During the interview:

  • Make eye contact, shake hands firmly and smile.
  • Try to relax and be positive; the interviewer is only trying to find out about you not catch you out.
  • Make sure that you can talk easily about your career history to date, highlight achievements and try to link them to how they will help you in the position for which you are applying. If you have taken work samples with you,, let them know that they are available but do not force them upon the interviewer.
  • Listen to the questions and try to answer them. Do not interrupt and, if you don’t know the answer, be honest. If you need time to think just say “can we come back to that one later whilst I think about it”.
  • Don’t lie or be critical of your current or last employer.
  • Don’t use jargon that may not be understood.
  • Before you get up to leave the interview:
    • Let them know that you want the job.
    • Ask if they have any reservations about your abilities and, if they do, try to cover them by focusing on your strengths.
    • Also, ask what the next stage is, if they have other candidates to see, whether they are able to offer the job now or whether there will be a second interview.
    • Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration.

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