Employment

The Ingredients of a Successful Interview

What makes for a successful interview? A tough question. I recently had an interview experience that somehow opened my eyes as to when an interview goes well. During the interview and my conversation with the prospective employers, and through the feedback I received, I managed to pinpoint the factors that determine the outcome of an interview. I did not get the job, but at least now I know why, and will try to improve my interview technique in the future.

CV

You might think that the CV has nothing to do with the interview. In reality, your CV is crucial in determining whether you reach the interview stage in the first place. So make sure your CV really highlights your achievements and skills, in a way that is easy for employers to spot. Use sections dividers, bold the information that you’d like employers not to miss. Put the most important facts in strategic places. Spend some time in optimising the layout of your CV and it will pay off.

A crucial tip, especially for those that have inconsistencies between their education and work experience, would be to highlight the information that relates most to your career goal, and give the most details about it. If you have a degree in, say, History, but would like to work in Business, list any relevant work experience you have first, and place your education qualifications after. This will show the employer that Business is your priority, and it will be easier for you to explain why you have done a degree that does not relate to your career aspirations.

Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter needs to be concise and well organised. Do not bore the reader with too much detail. State the facts, explain what you’ve done and achieved, and explain your career aspirations. This is a simple formula that will ensure you stay on track avoiding any irrelevant information.

Always write a cover letter! Even if the job does not specifically require one, briefly mention your reasons for applying for that particular job to that particular company. Recruiters will appreciate the effort.

Interview

The interview is usually the last hurdle before being given a job, or receiving a rejection. Your interview performance needs to complement your CV and Cover Letter and prove to the company that they have made the right choice not only in inviting you for an interview, but also for filling their job opening. Be confident, assertive, and focused: do not hesitate in your answers. In order for this to happen, you need to be well prepared. Do your homework and research the company well!

My Word For You

Be approachable, polite and likeable by smiling. Even if you receive questions that surprise you or catch you unprepared, be positive and do not let the tone of the interview be affected by the fact you received such a question. If you keep your positive attitude, your interviewers will probably remember that too, rather than your response to the question.

Prepare the common questions about why you have chosen this job, at this company, this industry; how it relates to your experience; where you see yourself in 5 years’ time, etc. Show determination and passion for the job. If you’re convinced that this is a job you can do well, and benefit them, the interviewers will see that too.

At the end of the interview, thank your interviewers and express your hope to hear from them further. You could send an email and thank them once again – not many people will do that. It shows your appreciation for the efforts and time that your interviewers have put into interviewing you, and it will also help establish a positive rapport, that will show you’re dedicated to getting the job.

Last but not least, if rejected, ask for feedback, take it, and embrace it with both hands. Feedback is crucial in helping you develop your interview technique and progress. If you still doubt the value of feedback, this post is a result of many interview mistakes made, and various job rejections received, so trust me on that one.

Work on your CV, Cover Letters and Interviews and it won’t be long before you notice an improvement in the feedback you receive, and hopefully the outcomes of your job applications. Build a consistent image of yourself that highlights your strengths and achievements in your CV and Cover Letter, and during the Interview, complete that image by showing you’re the person with the right skills and abilities, but also with the right personality for the company and the job.

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