The summer holidays give us time to think about where we are in our careers and where we’d like to be. September can find us scouring newspaper job sections, enrolling with recruitment agencies or trawling through on-line vacancies. That’s just the start of the process! In addition to working on CVs, we provide job hunting advice and improving interview skills, areas that need thought, information and practice. We ask our clients to tackle job hunting and interviews as they would a serious work project – prepare well, write down objectives, research the companies thoroughly, tick off tasks methodically, plan questions carefully and, above all, keep motivated.
If you want to change direction, don’t be shy about gathering background information from someone in that market sector. Use your contacts and, if you don’t have appropriate ones, then network and ask! The more you know about an industry, a company and its operations, the more interactive your job interview will be to give you the competitive edge you need. Getting an interview is an achievement in itself; only about 10% of applicants are selected, so make the most of every opportunity.
In structured interviews, recruiters pose questions designed to evoke candidates’ personal qualities, for example asking you to describe a situation in which you had to make a difficult decision, demonstrate leadership or work as a member of a team. Common questions include those about your weaknesses or what circumstances frustrate you. The traditional interview technique is more like a conversation based largely around your application form, and interviewers will challenge your replies to check out the depth and breadth of your knowledge. Or you might be tested practically on IT or HR knowledge or given an “in-tray” of actions and asked to prioritise them and justify your decisions. Some larger organisations may even employ actors to provide a role play, something many candidates dread.
Don’t be put off by the tasks ahead. Have practice sessions with a coach – and remember that 50% of the interview is for you to find out if the job is right for you, so your questions are as valid as those you answer.
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